It’s a New Year, so you know what the means, right? You have to set a bunch of goals, make resolutions, and make it the best year ever!
Ugh. That’s not only a tall order, it also freaks a lot of people out. What if, instead, you decided to change the way you think about things. That, in turn, could lead to more control of your mind, with the eventual goal of being in a better place. What about that?
Everyone experiences negativity and negative thoughts. It’s part of the natural evolution: remembering negative experiences helps us protect ourselves from them in the future. But continuous rumination is not only unnecessary, it’s harmful to our health and wellbeing.
This New York Times’ piece from early January suggests starting with acceptance of your negative thoughts. Pushing them away or telling yourself to stop thinking them will only make it worse. “Instead, notice that you are in a negative cycle and own it.”
For example, you might find yourself reliving a bad class. Tell yourself, “I am obsessing about my mistakes in class today.” Once you’ve accepted that, then try to challenge the reason why you’re obsessing. Two common concerns I hear about bad classes are “I’m a terrible dancer” and “My teacher probably thinks I’m not even trying anymore.”
But is that really true? Are you really a terrible dancer because you made a few mistakes? And just because you’ve had a bad class or haven’t been able to apply a correction means you’re suddenly lazy and don’t care? Unlikely.
It’s more likely that you just had a bad class. Everyone has bad days and even the professionals make mistakes regularly. End of story.
The Times article has more great suggestions like giving yourself the same advice you’d give to a friend and digging deep to understand what, if anything, you are accomplishing by thinking negatively. Read it for yourself and consider taking them up on their New Year’s challenge of quitting those thoughts.