I’m not sure if it’s like this for most people, but for me, it used to be so easy to form negative and undermining thoughts regarding my accomplishments and capabilities. I used to reflect on things that I’ve accomplished with thoughts like, “I’m so bad at [insert skill here] I don’t know how I got an A in that class,” or, “Brittany is already ten steps ahead of me in our career field, and we’re the same age!” Even for goals I’ve set for the future, I remember consistently having thoughts that put limits on my abilities.
Considering all of the positivity and support I have in my life through family, friends, and random acquaintences, I came to the conclusion that these thoughts were based on nothing more than my own cloud of negativity. I’ve acquired three main methods of dealing with negative thoughts that I use as needed. With enough repetition, I eventually started thinking more positive thoughts than negative ones, which is a much better use of my time.
- Write a Personal Résumé.
The purpose of a personal résumé is to list and reflect on things that you’ve done or said that made you feel happy or accomplished. For example, the last personal résumé I wrote was last month; I’d been endlessly searching and applying for jobs, anxious to change my current situation, and I could feel my brain preparing to drag me down that path of negativity. Instead of getting dragged, I drafted a quick [positive] personal résumé and once I was finished I felt SO much better. You know how people say, “Planes take off and land safely every day, but we only hear about the ones that don’t,” …the same goes for your life’s accomplishments if you let it happen. Make more room for the all of the positive things that you do, and toss the negative ones. Not only when you’re talking to yourself, but when you’re talking with others as well. You deserve to be happy.
2. Exchange Negative Thoughts for Positive Actions.
Exchanging negative thoughts for a positive action will instantly lift your mood and shift your focus to the happier situation. For example, with the thought I mentioned in the first paragraph, “Brittany is already ten steps ahead of me in our career field, and we’re the same age,” there are a lot of emotions like self-doubt and jealousy attached. Instead of me just sitting there, thinking about Brittany who is somewhere living her best life, I could turn that negative thought into a positive action by looking up a webinar to add a skill to my [real] résumé or sculpt a skill that I already have. Or I could start a conversation with Brittany somehow commending her on her work and making a new connection. The point is not to spend your time thinking negatively, but to take an action that will make you feel better about yourself.
3. Keep a Journal.
I’ve been writing in journals since I was in elementary school. Sure, when I was 8, all of the pages were drawings of flowers and games of M.A.S.H., but by high school I was really venting and went through two journals each school year. I credit journaling for keeping me sane and somewhat calm as a teenager. Today, journaling is a way to sort out my thoughts and how I really feel about my life’s situations. Some days I’ll experience something that bothers me and I’ll replay it in my head for the entire day. Then for some reason, once I dump all of my thoughts and feelings, good and bad, into my journal that I can just close and put away… I don’t feel the need to carry the thoughts with me anymore! If writing isn’t your thing, recording voice memos or something similar could be a better option for you, I’ve done this before when I felt like screaming [haha]. Whatever you do, just don’t carry that negative junk around with you.❤︎