In my last post, I wrote about the power of words. Mostly that negative yet powerful voice in my life that had lied to me. I received many wonderful reactions about the post which warmed my heart. I also received questions about how I manage to hush that voice. So I decided to write a post about this and write about how I combat these negative thoughts. I do feel it’s important to state that if you are battling depression, you should seek professional advice. Knowing when to ask for help is empowering and never shameful.
“Be careful how you think, because the quality of your thoughts will always determine the quality of your life.”
First things first this is an ongoing process. When I get disappointed, or when my dreams get crushed, when people hurt me or anger me when problems seem overwhelming, it’s easy to get caught up in the pile I call negative thoughts. And it’s no mystery that if we think negative thoughts we feel negative feelings, which leads to believing life is negative overall. Whenever we activate negative thoughts and words, we create a pigeonhole that keeps us trapped in that negative spiral.
They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So for 21 days, I would say out loud positive affirmations, every morning. It was important to me to realize that I am not my thoughts! However, you do your affirmations, do them as you see fit. For example when I started reading on this topic. Most articles would tell you to say your affirmation out loud while looking at yourself in a mirror. This did not work for me. As mentioned before it is important that I would realize that I am not my thoughts and looking at myself in the mirror did not make it extra real or something. To be honest I felt weirder and it felt unnatural. So it was a no for me.
“Research shows that feeling grateful has a big impact on your levels of positivity and happiness.”
I feel it’s also good to mention that when I felt a negative thought popping up I would say an affirmation and pray about it. For example, when I felt I am being too hard on myself I would say “Be gentle with yourself you are doing the best you can” – “I can. I will. End of story” “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
Saying these kinds of affirmations on a daily basis started to reshape my thinking. I could feel I became more positive and happier. And I finally understood what they said happiness is a choice. It was already inside me – but it’s up to me to find it.
“We’re always affirming something. Make sure it’s a healthy affirmation.”
Writing down my thoughts is a nice exercise to let go of any negative thought. Most of the time my negative thoughts are linked to a strong emotion like fear or anger. After writing everything down I would crush them into a ball and threw them into the sea or tear it up. Some people burn it or scribble over it. But I prefer to crush it into a ball or tearing it up.
Ultimately the point is to get some kind of physical representation of your negativity so that you can banish it in some satisfying symbolic way.
Another thing I did was to reason with myself. This comes more naturally to me because I always do this when I start to spiral into negativity. But I had a look into the technique to become better at this. So basically you find a sentence you can recite to yourself to acknowledge that YOU have power over your responses and to ultimately increase that power over time. Example: “Just because I am struggling with finding a good job doesn’t mean I will never find one in the future” or “Just because I had some bad relationships doesn’t mean I will always have bad relationships” or “Just because I had a bad experience with … does not mean that experience will continue” after that I say “And now stop the pity party and get going” or I would say “Now relax”. I am a strong believer that you should do and say whatever feels more natural to you.
Last but definitely not least experience I want to share is being grateful. Even during my challenges, I try to find something (even small like ‘being grateful for another day’) to be grateful for. Because from the moment I start noticing the things that are going well I feel even more grateful and I feel happy. I keep a journal since I was sixteen and I called it my dream book now I would call it the dream/gratitude journal where I write down all my dreams and everything I wish to meet (this already makes me excited and happy.) and I write down a couple of things I am grateful for.