Everyone has an inner narrative, a story they tell themselves – whether that’s thoughts that pop into our heads or our internal dialogue.
However, when that “voice in our head” is persistently negative, it can take on a chronic character and become a dominant force in one’s life, leading to serious physical and mental health problems.
Negativity leads to the release of an excess of cortisol into our bloodstream, which can bring about chronic fatigue, digestive problems, and, crucially, reduced efficacy of our immune system’s ability to fight inflammation. This not only increases our exposure to the likes of the common cold but also to much more serious illnesses such as cancer.
Several studies have been conducted on the impact of a negative outlook and one found that of people from families with a history of heart disease, those who had a negative outlook were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more positive outlook.
Consistently negative thought patterns can also severely impact our demeanor and behavioural patterns, making us less enterprising and productive, and unable to fully fulfill our potential.
Positive thinking, on the other hand, is associated with greater resilience, reduced anxiety, more harmonious relationships, reduced depression, increased productivity, an enhanced overall sense of well-being, and, of course, better health.
This is why it’s vital that you have the tools to break free of incessant negative thinking.
Here are some techniques which can help you to be more positive.
1) Work out when you’re most negative
First and foremost, you need to identify the situations in which you are mostly negative. This could be a certain time of day, week, or month, related to particular daily routines, events, people, or a host of other factors.
If you can identify and isolate the factors that are the most triggering for your negative thoughts, you have taken the first step towards a better life.
2) Spend more time in the company of positive people
Both negativity and positivity are contagious. So it’s important to think about the people you spend most of your time with.
Surrounding yourself with positive people can help to improve your self-esteem as well as your chances of reaching your goals.
Positive people help you to see the bright side of things.
3) Practice more positive self-talk
Many of us are our own worst critics. And if such negative thoughts go unchecked, they can run rampant.
Nurture an awareness of your internal monologue and speak to yourself with kindness and compassion, just like you would to someone you love.
For example, instead of saying: “I really messed that up”, you could say something like: “Next time I’ll do better.”
4) Start each day on a positive note
It’s always important to start your day well. Therefore you should establish some sort of ritual for when you wake up to provide something uplifting.
It could be something as simple as saying out loud that you’re going to have a great day, listening to your favourite song, or sharing positivity with someone by giving them a compliment or doing something nice for them.
5) Focus on the good that comes out of bad
Every day poses new challenges and obstacles. So when one arises, try to focus on the positive or the silver lining – even if it’s very small.
For example, if something you were looking forward to gets canceled, think about the nice ways you can now spend that free time. Or if your laptop breaks down, think about how exciting it will be when you get a new one.
6) Find the humour in a situation
Several studies show that laughter can lower stress levels and help with anxiety and depression.
As they say, “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” And there’s something to that.
If you’re open to humour, it can help you to cope with difficult situations. So allow yourself to laugh – even if it’s not genuine. It can quickly lighten the mood.
Getting out of a spiral of negativity
If having tried the above techniques, you still feel that you’re overcome by constant, negative thoughts, seeking professional help might be beneficial to you.
Finding yourself in a spiral of negative thoughts could be a result of an underlying psychiatric condition. Therefore, seeing a psychologist or therapist for treatment might be a good idea.
Undoing years of pessimism and negativity can take time but with the help of our dedicated and experienced team at White River Manor, we believe that we have the tools and the expertise that can help you to learn how to develop a more positive outlook.
Our ultimate recovery destination, in the heart of South Africa, combines the highest standards of psychotherapeutic treatment with total relaxation to provide you with the perfect opportunity to achieve the life of fulfillment and freedom that you deserve.
Get in touch now for more information.