Writing this blog in the context of an unprecedented start to 2020, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious and sad about what’s going on around us. In all honesty, it’s perfectly human and what you would expect in response to what we’ve witnessed so far this year.
Parking the current context to one side for now, there are other times when those emotions and feelings manifest in a personal battle when a cycle of negative thoughts and feelings take over.
It may be triggered from unexpected challenges, other negative people you have around you or battling with low self-esteem and self-worth issues. Whatever the cause, it’s draining and depressing.
If this sounds familiar, this blog is for you.
I’m hoping to spread a little hope because like the rest of our body, the brain (and our mind) can be trained. Like our physical fitness, it takes a little work to train your mind. This means we can exercise it to think more positively and in turn, hopefully feel better about ourselves.
I’m not a psychologist or therapist, but the tips I’m going to share are tried and tested. I can vouch for them because I’ve managed to shape and move past negative thinking patterns myself using these techniques.
So if you’re going through an internal struggle of your own, I hope this blog can help bring some clarity and positivity to lighten your mental load.
1. Let the thoughts float by
When a negative thought or feeling pops up, observe it, acknowledge it, then like a cloud in the sky, let it float away. Try not to grapple with it, analyse it or dwell on it – it doesn’t deserve that much energy and attention – because you are not your thoughts.
You may find it empowering to think ‘I have the choice to listen and feed the thoughts or take control and change the script’. By choosing to not fight it and accepting you’re not your thoughts, you’re taking control and changing the script.
So go and wave those negative clouds bye-bye!
2. The 2:1 Ratio
Stage two: if you’re struggling to let the negative thought float away and you begin to grapple with it, remember the 2:1 ratio. For every negative thought you can’t let go of, think of two positive thoughts to overcome it.
For example, let’s pretend you’re beating yourself up about not being ‘a good enough friend’ to someone you care about. If this were to happen, try thinking of two occasions when you were a great friend to that person. When you’re comfortable with that, you can even try dropping a message to get out of your ‘analysis paralysis’ and break the cycle, which brings me on to my next tip…
3. Random acts of kindness
As we get older, most will agree it feels better to give a gift than to receive, and evidence suggests it reduces stress and improves our emotional wellbeing.
With this in mind, take a moment to do a small favour for someone. It’s almost certain to make you feel better, put you in a better frame of mind and help give you a break from the negative thinking cycle.
Try to do one thing a day: phone an elderly relative to check in with them, offer to do their shopping, help a friend get active, send someone a hand-written note, pick up some litter or even bake a cake.
Kill your negative thoughts with kindness!
4. Journal 5 things
Another great method to train your mind to think more positively is to repeatedly and deliberately turn your attention to things that bring you joy.
With this in mind, set yourself the challenge of journaling 5 things every day that make you feel happy to be alive or thankful for.
It could be family, friends, your job, your pets, nature, wildlife, birdsong, sunrises, BBQs, films, experiences, fresh-bedding, comfy knickers, non-wired bras, buttery toast – all sorts! Cheer yourself up with the things that bring you joy.
5. Destroy the Biggies
If you’ve tried first two tips and something negative is really consuming you, it’s time to get it down on paper. Whether you write it or draw it, it will release the pent-up emotions and provide something physical that represents your problem,
Once it’s all down on paper, you’re going to destroy it. You can tear it, burn it, crush it or whatever you feel is most satisfying. In doing so, you’re symbolising your control over the thoughts or feelings and committing to moving on from it.
6. Give it a name
Naming your negative voice enables you to separate it from you. When I was younger, I lived with Anorexia. When negative thoughts crept in, my family and I would give it a name so it wasn’t ‘me’ anymore, and we’d say how she wasn’t welcome.
A great happiness campaigner and author Mo Gawdat also recommends this technique. He also states that the more positively you can think, the more the negative thoughts will diminish. So once you tell the negativity to go away, he also recommends to tell your brain ‘go get me a happier thought’ to help this process further.
7. Set boundaries with who you associate with
My final tip is to associate yourself with the people who radiate positivity, sparkle and who are infectious. You want to soak up their vibes and be with people who make you feel valued, empowered, worthy and who want to see you succeed.
In the fitness world (it’s obvious but still really important to state it) you should exercise with a trainer or group that achieves this.
A lot of this industry is focused on fitness for aesthetics, which is fine if that’s what you’re personally exercising for, but if you’re stuck with a negative thought cycle you may want to be cautious of the rhetoric that can go with it.
For example, you don’t want to feed off any trainer or peer group that talks negatively about body weight, food or who put themselves down as it’s easy to pick up on these habits. If you start do that frequently, it’s going to feed the negative loop.
At TFF, we use fitness as a way of life to be healthy and to build strength of mind + body. My mantra is to empower everyone to feel joyful and uplifted through movement. I also try to nurture my clients to believe in themselves.
Through my 1:1 and classes, we use fitness as a form of self-love and self-care to build a stronger mind + body, because then we free ourselves to live our best lives,
I hope you’ve found my tips useful and please share with anyone you think may benefit from reading this blog.
If you’re interested in booking with me for a bespoke training plan that measures your success not just by a waistline but by your confidence, then get in touch for a discovery call. I’d love to help you live your best life.
“It is all going to be fine in the end.
If it is not yet fine,
then it is not yet the end.”
- Mo Gawdat