Story by Amazing Perspective @amazpersective
“Being present turns up the volume in your life. You’re tuned into awareness instead of the jumble of thoughts in your head. And you begin to understand that you’re not your thoughts. You’re much bigger, and deeper, and wider than the thoughts. I’ve learned that, that constant chatter in your head only holds the power you choose to give it.” ~Oprah
I cannot stand when I’m swimming around in negative thoughts – picking at all the wrong things, assuming the worst possible scenario for my life. So I came up with an exercise that changes a negative mood into a positive one.
Because sometimes we muddle around as Debbie Downers a bit longer than we should, when in fact, we really don’t have to. It’s a choice, you know? (To be negative or positive.) We can choose to turn negatives into positives, or we can choose only to focus on the negative, spawning more negativity and anxiety.
If you choose the former however, one thing I know for sure is, changing your mood is about self-awareness: delving into your thoughts to hear what’s going on. Because thoughts create feelings. And feelings, actions and behaviors. Joanna Engelman, LMSW, MA wrote a great piece titled “Being Aware of Your Thoughts Can Lift Depression.”
In it she describes the cycle of negative thinking. She describes how writing about our negative thoughts can help us understand why we feel the way we do, and how we react to our thoughts. So by practicing the exercise below, you actually learn how to master your mind and your thoughts.
In turn, you build self-confidence, and you’re likely to function from a positive, more productive state of being versus a negative way of being.
Changing your negative mood into a positive one
Step #1: Listen to hear what’s going on in your mind. Shut everything off. Get still and close your eyes. Listen to all the noise – positive and negative. Listen for clues, and listen in on how those thoughts make you feel. Next…
Step #2: Put your feelings into words. Describe everything you’re thinking and feeling, and explain why. Last week I started one of my journal entries with: “Lately I’ve been waking up (and going to bed) with these negative thoughts in my head. They are really getting out of hand. I’ve got to turn them around.”
Here’s what you do: Flip to a blank page in your journal. Draw a line down the center of the page to create two columns. Write “Negative” at the top of column one. In that same column, describe in detail each situation you hate right now. Don’t worry about how negative it sounds – just write, unfiltered.
Step #3: Respond to your negative thoughts. Usually when we’re going through a rough patch, we just want to hear that everything’s going to be okay. We want to be comforted, and we want to move on with our lives.
But in order to move on, you start by listening, embracing, and then responding to the negative scenarios playing in your mind. Negative thinking has its own special power because it points out our blindspots, shows us real versions we should be focusing on, and enables us to fuse together creative solutions in response to the negative.
Here’s what you do: Write “New Positive Thought” at the top of column two. In that same column, write out the positives and solutions to your negative thoughts. I read a book called: “Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict” written by renowned Buddhist leader Tsultrim Allione. In the book Tsultrim explains that the harder we fight our demons, the stronger they become. So instead of pushing those feelings aside, acknowledge them by feeding them with attention and solutions.
“Normally we empower our demons by believing they are real and strong in themselves and have the power to destroy us. As we fight against them, they get stronger. But when we acknowledge them by discovering what they really need, and nurture them, our demons release their hold, and we find that they actually do not have power over us. By nurturing the shadow elements of our being with infinite generosity, we can access the state of luminous awareness and undermine ego. By feeding the demons, we resolve conflict and duality, finding our way to unity.” ~Tsultrim Allione
Step #4: Implement the solutions. When you acknowledge what’s going on by listening, and you nurture the negative by responding in words, you flip the script. But responding goes beyond nurturing with just words. Responding is: putting those solutions to practice (in real life); being cognizant; replacing negative with positive when and where necessary; living with those positive beliefs; and believing in those positive thoughts and affirmations.
I’ve practiced this exercise many times in the past (consciously and subconsciously). It makes decisions easier and life clearer to forge ahead. You feel capable and prepared to whether the storms of life. Because whatever problem or situation you face, you believe you will come out okay.
Changing your negative mood into a positive one takes introspection, and the ability to look at your situation from a new perspective. It’s not impossible – it can be done. You just have to be willing to look beyond the surface to get inside yourself, understand and change the scenario.