Uncover the thought behind the negative mindset
Behind your negative mindset are thoughts you keep thinking.
Thoughts are the sentences in our head that we tell ourselves about our lives.
We think thoughts are true.
But in reality, they are completely optional.
When you really understand this concept, it’s truly mind blowing.
For example, you might have a thought like “I hate my job.”
To you, this thought might be 100% true – you think it’s a fact.
And since you think it’s fact, your brain searches for all the reasons why it’s true.
Perhaps it’s your “mean boss” or your “small salary.”
But here’s the secret – “I hate my job” is actually a thought and it’s completely optional.
(In fact, the sentences “My boss is mean” and “I have a small salary” are also completely optional thoughts.)
If the thought isn’t serving, you don’t have to keep thinking it.
You can come up with new thoughts that serve you.
Here’s how to uncover the thoughts behind your negative mindset:
Write for 10 to 20 minutes about your feelings.
No thinking – just write what comes to mind.
Then, re-read what you just wrote.
Examine what sentences are 100% true facts and what sentences are your thoughts.
It’s likely the vast majority of what you wrote are thoughts.
And all of these are optional.
Now, it’s time to come up with thoughts that will serve you.
If you currently have the thought “I hate my job,” it will be hard to shift all the way to the thought “I love my job.”
But there are still other thoughts that will serve you more than “I hate my job.” Here are some examples:
- I appreciate that I have a job that pays my bills
- I like the apartment I can rent because of this job
- I like the trips I can take because of this job
- There are parts of my job that I do like
- I hate my job, and that’s okay because this isn’t my forever-job
Brainstorm thoughts about your circumstance that are less negative.
And practice your new thoughts each morning and evening.
Overtime, these thoughts will become second nature and replace the old thoughts.
Release your expectations
If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of expectations floating around in your mind.
Expectations are “should” statements.
And you probably don’t even quite realize there are so many expectations you’re placing on yourself, your job, your relationships, or your life!
As you do your thought download exercise, pay careful attention to whether there are underlying “should” statements.
You might have thoughts like…
- You should have more money by now
- You should be married by now
- You should have a better job
- Your boss should be nicer
All these “should” statements are expectations that you are holding onto.
And all expectations are thoughts.
They are completely optional.
I recommend examining these expectations and asking yourself “is this expectation really serving me?”
Perhaps that best plan forward is to release the expectation altogether.
Recognize life is 50 / 50
It’s important to recognize that life is 50 / 50.
50% positive emotions and 50% negative emotions.
It’s not supposed to be 100% positive emotions all the time.
We all wish it was though!
And since we always wish life was filled with more happiness, we get mad and frustrated during the times we are experiencing the negative 50% emotions.
That extra frustration and anger leads to us spending 80% of our time in negative emotion.
During graduate school, I was constantly stuck in a negative mindset.
I wanted to graduate.
I wanted so despeartely to move on to the next stage of my life.
I thought the next stage would be so much better than life during grad school.
(Turns out – life isn’t better “over there” even though we think it will be.)
All my negativity toward graduate school led to me spending 80% of time in negative emotions.
I was miserable and I made the people around me miserable.
As I reflect back on that situation, it’s easy to see that all that extra negativity was not useful and it made everything much worse.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know then what I know now.
Life is supposed to have negative emotion, and the best way to respond is to feel the emotion and treat yourself with compassion.
And from there, I could have moved back to the part of life that is 50% positive emotion.