A lot of thoughts run through our mind on any given day. In the first post of this series, we talked a bit about the importance of our thoughts. Today, I want to pick back up on that theme. Instead of paying attention to what we should think, I want to make you aware of some key words you need to watch out for in your thoughts when you want to reduce and stop negative thoughts.
What Are “Negative Words”?
Let’s start by going over some of the words that should give you pause and check if you’re slipping into negative thinking. They include words like no, don’t, won’t, can’t, shouldn’t, and the likes. This is a short list of the most important ones.
You probably have a few of your own words that you know you use when you start to slip into negative thoughts. As you start to pay attention to your thought processes, you’ll recognize the words that are particularly important to you. Make a note of them and add them to the short list above.
Of course context matters. Sometimes thinking and saying “no” can be a very positive thing. The idea is to treat them as stop words. When they come across your mind, stop and examine if you’re still on track or if you’re slipping into negative thought processes. This gives you the control you need to literally change your mind.
Start by becoming more aware of the thoughts running through your mind, particularly when you start to “hear” these negative words. Stop and figure out if you are using them in a positive, negative, or neutral context.
Turning Negative Words Into Positive Ones
When you do find yourself using those negative words and catch yourself with those negative thoughts, it’s time to take action and do everything you can to turn a negative into a positive. Let’s say you find yourself doubting your professional abilities; you hear about a fun new project at work and catch yourself thinking that you “can’t” do that.
It’s time to turn that around and change your thinking process from “I can’t do that” or “I don’t know everything there is to know about this project” to “I know how to do parts A, B, and C and I know I can learn part D”.
Here's another example that I use personally and with my kids. If they say I can't do _____, I acknowledge that that may be true right now but with practice and persistence you will be able to - all with one little word...YET. For instance, my 9 year old: I can't do algebra, yet. My 15 year old: I can't drive, yet. For me: I can't do peacock pose, yet. It's powerful and magical.
The same goes for any other negative thoughts you have, including self-image ones, self-worth ones, relationship thoughts, and the likes. Instead of beating yourself up that the house isn’t perfectly clean, focus on the fact that you spent a fun afternoon at the park with the kids or that you now have the perfect opportunity to work on practicing chores with the little ones, and get everyone involved in house cleaning tasks.