A negative mindset can affect every aspect of your life, taking a toll on your career, relationships, and even your physical health.
If you are caught in a cycle of negative thoughts, it can be extremely difficult to change your mindset and become a more positive person, but it is possible.
If you want to break the cycle of negativity and realize all the rewards of a more positive mindset read on to find out how do you change your mindset from negative to positive.
What Causes A Negative Mindset?
Psychologists have studied negative thinking for decades, trying to understand why so many of us repeatedly return to negative thoughts.
This kind of thinking is called “negative rumination,” and it’s an incredibly common experience. In fact, for most people, 80% of our thoughts are negative, and a huge 95% of our thoughts are repetitive.
Psychologists theorize that negative rumination is caused by painful, stressful, or traumatic events early in life, in which we did not receive a satisfactory explanation or get closure.
The mind repeatedly returns to this situation, trying to understand it, trying to re-script it, and trying to imagine alternate scenarios that make the experience less painful and traumatic.
At the root of this phenomenon is a desire to take control of the negative experience; we are trying to figure out what actions we can take to avoid such situations in the future.
However, when we don’t have a mature understanding of events, the brain may arrive at negative conclusions, with thoughts like “people are bad and can’t be trusted” or “I am bad and don’t deserve good things.”
Over time, these thoughts come to define how we understand ourselves and the world, and lead to these common effects:
• Negative Rumination
In negative rumination, the mind returns repeatedly to negative events, dwelling on and reliving them. While some amount of self-reflection is healthy, negative rumination can go on and on and on and never present positive actions or solutions.
Overanalyzing can take the form of a kind of option paralysis, where the mind is torn between different alternatives.
Overanalyzing is a form of negative rumination, focused on future possibilities rather than prior events; the mind is overcome by worry and anxiety about what the future may hold, and it becomes difficult or impossible to make decisions.
• Manifesting Anger
When our negative mindset is focused on how we have been mistreated by others in the past, it can show as anger or hostility toward others, even when it isn’t appropriate to the situation.
How To Change A Negative Mindset To A Positive Mindset
When these mental habits have been ingrained over the course of many years, it can be extremely difficult to change them. It is possible to achieve a more positive mindset and start to reach your goals, but it takes time and effort.
Here are some great steps.
• Learn To Recognize Your Negative Thoughts
If it helps, get a journal, and begin to write down some of your negative ruminations. Begin to identify your repetitive negative thoughts in the moment, as you experience them.
• Notice Your Thoughts Without Judging Them
Sometimes, the journey to change our mindset can become another source of stress and anxiety. Remember that this is incredibly common human behavior, and a normal response to stress and trauma. Instead of judging, try to take the perspective of an impartial observer.
Try to notice what triggered the thought and notice where the thoughts tend to lead.
Be curious about what your mind is trying to accomplish with these thoughts.
• Make The Time For Positive Thoughts
The easiest way to do this is to start a gratitude journal. Many books are sold for this purpose and have daily prompts to direct your focus.
If you don’t have a book with prompts, use a journal for daily writing exercises like “10 things I am grateful for,” “10 things I do well,” or “10 times I succeeded.”
In the beginning, these exercises may be difficult, so forcing yourself to list 10 things or write for 10 minutes twice a day will help you stay focused on the task.
You may be surprised at how hard it is to list these kinds of things day after day, but that’s because your mind has been trained to focus on the negative.
In time, it will become easier as your mind learns to become more positive.
• Distract Your Brain
If you find yourself stuck ruminating for a long time, divert your mind with a hobby. Look for activities that challenge your brain and force it to focus on something new, rather than a repetitive activity that lets your thoughts roam.
Learning an instrument, new language, dance, or martial art are all great activities that form new networks in the brain. Or keep it simple with activities like jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, or any activity that challenges and distracts the mind.
• Develop Positive Alternative Thoughts
In a previous article we did a review of the Ultra Manifestation program that can help you. Once you have identified some of your key negative thoughts, think of positive alternative responses to those thoughts. Think of it like a debate: If your mind says that you are slow to learn, answer that once you learn things, you do them well.
Develop a list of positive alternatives to all your repetitive negative thoughts, and then use these responses every time you experience the negative thought. This is an excellent daily writing exercise as well.
• Go For A Long Walk In Nature
Studies show that a 90 minute walk in a natural setting decreases ruminative thinking (unlike a 90 minute walk in an urban setting) and can help to loosen the hold of a negative mindset on your brain.
• Practice Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is an excellent practice to help you take control of your attention and your thoughts. It also helps to reduce stress and has a positive effect on your mental and physical health.
Mindfulness meditation is difficult in the beginning, as your thoughts want to race and pursue habitual patterns and distractions, but over time you will develop greater awareness and control.
• Get Help
For some people, negative rumination is simply a destructive mental habit. For others, it can easily spiral into depression.
When negative rumination is related to pain and trauma, it can be helpful to work with a professional who can help you work through these experiences and come to a healthier mindset.
Changing your mind from a habit of negative thinking toward a more positive mindset takes practice and patience. It took years for a negative mindset to take hold, and it can be hard to break old habits, but it’s possible for you to change your thoughts and become a more positive person.
The good news is that every little bit helps. Simply starting a gratitude journal, or mediating for 10 minutes a day, or redirecting some of your negative self-talk will work wonders for your attitude and mindset.
It’s not all-or-nothing; you can get there by small steps and feel healthier and happier every day.
A positive mindset can transform your whole life, so get started today.
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