There are so many things in life that can make you feel negative. Think about being stuck in traffic, or getting bad news at work, or missing a flight. None of that feels good. And yet, even when faced with tough times, getting rid of your negativity is the better way to go.
I mean, think about it. Negativity not only brings you down, but it often makes life way more difficult than it needs to be. As an example, if you find yourself in traffic and act like it's the end of the world, it's definitely going to feel that way.
Of course, how you react can't always be helped. Depending on what you're dealing with in life, sometimes you just gotta have yourself a good whine. But if you constantly give into your own negativity, or deal with it from other people on a 24/7 basis, your life really can start to go downhill.
As psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells me, "Living in this constant state can cause emotional, physical, and self-esteem issues. [It's] unhelpful as it often keeps [you] stuck, feeling hopeless, helpless, and [like] you do not have control over your life." Feel like it's time to make some changes, and get yourself out of that cycle? Then read on for simple things you can do to finally have less negativity in your life.
1. Challenge Your Self-Defeating Thoughts
Do you walk around all day with an annoying reel of negative self-talk playing in your head? If so, it can help to start challenging it. "When you have [a negative thought], stop, ask yourself if it is based in reality, or if it is about something else," Martinez says. "Work to change that inner message to a positive and realistic one." For this, positive mantras are a good place to start.
2. Make It A Point To Laugh
Try to laugh more throughout the day — even if you have to fake it. Forced laughter can feel kind of, well, forced. And yet it improves your mood in the same way real laughter does. "Laughter, even [on] purpose, releases serotonin and dopamine to boost your mood and give you pleasure," says hypnotherapist and life coach Dave Berman, in an email to Bustle. So the next time you feel a bout of negativity coming on, find yourself a funny video, ASAP.
3. Quit Assuming Everything's The End Of The World
OK, so maybe you missed your flight. Like I said above, it's perfectly fine to give into a moment of negativity. But then turn things around by asking yourself, "What's the worst that can happen?" As certified coach Lisa Barrington tells me, this question can put your emotional end-of-the-world reaction into perspective. Once you can see how you're being illogical — and overly negative — your emotions will come down a few notches. Guaranteed.
4. Taper Off Time Spent With Negative People
If your friends make it a habit of being negative, don't be afraid to taper off the time you spend with them. "I call this 'successive approximations' where you cut down frequency of exposure and responses to this person, until it has fizzled out on its own," Martinez says. "This works well for those who struggle with confrontation and hurting people's feelings."
5. Think About How You Handled Things In Past
If everything is going wrong in life, it can be difficult to be all cheerful and positive. But before you give into negative thinking, try reviewing how you handled lows in the past. "Realizing [you've] handled it before and 'survived' has a calming effect that builds confidence in the future," says Barrington. Hard times didn't ruin you before, and they likely won't now. So no need to be negative.
6. Get Out Of Bed On Time
If you hit snooze two or three (or four) times, it sets you on a course for a chaotic day. So give yourself plenty of time to wake up, get ready, and maybe even do something nice for yourself each morning. "This develops a great morning routine, and sets a good tone for the day," Martinez says. What could be more positive than that?
7. Pay Attention To Knee Jerk Reactions
Much the way your self-talk can make you feel negative, so can your knee jerk reactions. For some people, it's that whole "I hate Monday" thing. Do you really hate Mondays? Or is it just a bad habit you've picked up along the way? Whatever the case may be, start replacing it with a more positive thought. As Barrington says, "Constant reinforcement of the new message and intentional disregard for the old message is the key to success."
8. Surround Yourself With Cheery People
Are you constantly dumped upon by a negative, stressed out coworker? If so, try to creep on over to the cheerier people in your office. Then, follow suit in other areas of your life. Surround yourself with positive people, as well as ones who build you up, Martinez tells me. You'll notice such a difference in your negativity levels once all the whiners are gone.
9. Take Better Care Of Yourself
It's nearly impossible to stave off negativity if you don't take care of yourself. "If you're not taking good care of your body, you'll be more easily irritated and more susceptible to negative thoughts," says licensed marriage and family therapist Jill Whitney, LMFT, in an email to Bustle. So start going to bed on time, fitting more exercise into your life — whatever makes you feel good. And you'll feel more positive in no time.
10. Lower Your Expectations Ever So Slightly
You don't have to stroll through life with ridiculously low expectations of yourself and everyone around you. But keeping them realistic sure can make all the difference. "Often, we feel negative because someone or something has disappointed us," Whitney says. If you can remember that everyone is human, you'll feel far less negativity.
11. Notice The Good Things Around You
Yes, the world sucks in a lot of ways. And yet there are still plenty of things to be happy about. "They can be anything from clean water to drink, to a compliment you received, to knowing your friend is always there when you need her," Whitney says. "Once you start listing, you'll find more and more positive things that already exist in your life."
And that's the secret, isn't it? Replacing all your negativity with a little dose of positivity. It may not be easy, but for the sake of your mental health, it's totally worth it.
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