How To Overcome Negative Thinking? Keep Breathing

Facing Challenges

This year doesn’t want to act right! I don’t know about you but I have been faced with numerous challenges in 2017. Some things might have been unexpected for you as well. The year isn’t over yet so there is still hope.

These challenges feel like monsters looming over our head. They arise when you least expect it or when you don’t want them. Challenges spur negative thoughts and emotions. Negative thoughts are quiet voices whispering lies and doubt in your ear trying to discourage you.

For example, my challenges are finances, finding a steady flow of income, balancing motherhood as a single parent, co-parenting, and friendships growing apart or changing. I thought it would go a little smoother but it’s not as smooth as I had anticipated.

Has this year been more difficult for you? Are you facing challenges that seem relentless in their attack on your life or on your mind?

How do we stay positive and overcome negative thoughts and emotions?

Keep Breathing!

Let’s go a little deeper and discover how to overcome these negative thoughts and feelings.

It’s Going to Happen

The mind is very powerful! Thoughts can enter through fear or frustration from our circumstances. These circumstances can ignite those doubts and add fuel to the flame of our fears.

Bad thoughts are going to taunt us and they will happen every day.

The good news is that we have a choice to believe in what we think. Your thoughts are either going to control you or you are going to control them.

The thoughts we decide to entertain on a daily basis will either chain us down or liberate us.

Your behavior [my behavior] and actions are a reflection of what our minds are thinking.

For example, if I believe that I am going to have a bad day then I am going to be looking for things to complain about and confirm that I’m truly having a bad day.

Yes, bad things can happen and the world isn’t perfect but our attitude can decide whether our day is going to flow in a negative or a positive direction.

Have you ever wondered how certain people can stay positive through dire circumstances? Are you envious or jealous of their optimistic outlook on life?

Guess what….it began with a choice!

They decided not to let their circumstance dictate how they were going to live their life. It seems that we underestimate our abilities to control the power of our own thoughts.

We need to examine what we are thinking. How much time are you spending on positive or negative thoughts? What kind of thoughts are we feeding ourselves?

The Tale of Two Wolves sends a powerful message and provides an example of the responsibility we have for our choices.

The Tale of Two Wolves

With the case of folklore, the true beginnings of this parable are uncertain. Some believe the origin comes from an old Cherokee teaching but wherever it came from, it’s meaning holds significant weight to the human condition and doesn’t diminish the power of its wise meaning.

The story is about two wolves representing the good and the evil battling within each of us.

Under the night sky, a grandfather shares a story with his grandson while sitting around the fire and staring into the flames.

The grandfather says, “my son, there are two wolves inside each of us which are always at war.

The white wolf is pure and good. This wolf represents kindness, bravery, love, truth, patience, peace, joy, gentleness, and self-control.

The other is a black wolf which is dark and evil. This wolf represents hatred, fear, lies, jealousy, pride, greed, envy, and chaos.”

The grandson stops and thinks quietly about his grandfather’s words. Then he looks up and says, “Grandfather, which one will win?”

The grandfather softly replies, “The one you feed.”~ Photo Credit: Imgur Blog

Don’t underestimate the power of your thoughts because you decide if you are going to feed the white (good) wolf or the black (evil) wolf. Spend time feeding your mind with positive thoughts and don’t entertain the negative ones.

When you recognize a negative thought brewing in your mind then quickly make the decision to dismiss it and focus your energy on two positives things about your day.

How to Feed the Good Wolf?

You need to determine what you are feeding your own mind. Are you feeding your thoughts with good things or with toxic things?

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What am I reading? The stuff you read on social media, in the news, in your emails, in books, articles, etc. All of these sources are avenues of influence on your thoughts. What your reading can influence what you are thinking with the information you feed it.

Photo Credit: 10 Million Miler

Fill your library of ebooks (or hardcover books) mainly with information or stories that are positive and inspirational.

I’m not saying to completely ignore the evil or the bad events that take place in the world but we can control how much we are going to consume and how often. Take in only what is necessary to be informed and not become ignorant.

I recommend reading these Top 10 Motivational Books to help you jumpstart your journey towards positivity:

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins
  • As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
  • The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
  • Drive by Daniel Pink
  • The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
  • Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer

After reading at least one of these books, your thoughts will begin to grow in a positive direction as it has done for me.

The best quote I found by Stephen Covey says, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

My destiny and hopefully yours is to have a happier life with more positive thinking and develop an optimistic attitude.

2. What am I watching on T.V.? The current T.V. programs and their commercials are now unfiltered and mostly uncensored. Be careful what you and your children are watching. What is acceptable to hear and see today wasn’t acceptable over 20 years ago or even 10 years ago.

Photo Credit: Spoon Fed Hawsker

The moral compass is steering farther and farther away from good values and the boundaries are dissolving away. According to Psych Central in 10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries, “Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn, according to psychologist and coach Dana Gionta, Ph.D.”

It’s up to the viewers to decide what is appropriate to watch and what is not. If the T.V. ratings start to decline then our voices, inadvertently, are being heard. Data doesn’t lie.

On T.V., I’ve witnessed that self-control is no longer an admirable trait. People lack this discipline of self-control. It’s common to lash back after someone has said some hurtful things. Now, we freely fire back without restraint.

For example, certain programs allow foul language, bad behavior, hostile debates spewing animosity, and inappropriate adult conversations are being broadcasted. Harmful words flow off the tongue and are out of control in the news in my opinion.

Certain words are harmful and they strike back quicker than a viper’s bite.

Be aware of the negative media you invite into your home or into your life. Their negative broadcasting can influence negative thoughts which are not good for your mind. That negative attitude is energy that is then transferred to the people around you in your life.

3. Who are my friends or my circle of influence? Your circle of influence involves people who you choose. They align with your thinking and beliefs.

Photo Credit: Vineyard Church, Portland

Be careful who you choose to have in your life because they can mold, change, and influence your values. These people feed your thoughts and therefore it is important to discern who you should spend your time with.

I agree with Stephanie Barnes Taylor who is the CEO of The Fruition Group, LLC. A former corporate attorney and executive. She wrote “Who’s at Your Table? The Importance of Choosing Your Circle of Influence“

In her article, she states, “We have people in our lives that bear great influence on us. We listen to them. We spend time with them. We work with them. We live with them. We go to church with them. One thing that we forget, however, is that we invite them.”

Her simple explanation of the people we need to have at our table (our circle of influence) aligns with my views.

Here are the people you need in your circle of influence:

1. A Coach! This person promotes you to be greater and encourages you to set higher goals. The coach will share knowledge, wisdom, and expertise that enables you to grow. They help you advance when you want to or feel like quitting.

2. A Cheerleader! This person inspires you and makes you feel good about yourself. They remind you how great you are and all your positive attributes. They bring you joy, make you laugh, and reignite that spark of desire to achieve more for yourself!

3. An Iron Sharpener! When iron blades are rubbed together, each becomes sharper and thus more effective in their function. Having this person in your life to challenge you to sharpen your skills, your character, and your mindset. A person such as that is a huge asset. You will fall and sometimes fail but this person will hold you accountable for your actions and for the things you say you want to achieve. They provide you the truth when it may hurt to hear it.

So when this happens, this person will lift you up because it’s easier to quit if you stand alone with no one to hold you accountable. *Note: “Iron Sharpens Iron” is a parable found in the Bible [Proverbs: 27:17].

4. A North Star! — This person has achieved something you aspire and they serve as a great example that can guide, shape, stretch, and sharpen you. This is a mentor and someone you look up to.

Remove these folks from your life or limit contact with them:

1. An Antagonist/Sappy — This person is unhappy and drags you down. Their mindset and moods are negative and sappy. They limited your expectations with envy and express jealousy. They make sly remarks and gossip about other’s failures to make them feel better.

They secretly want to achieve but their words are empty dreams with no actions. They lack the confidence in themselves to attempt their own dreams with excuses because they are afraid to fail. So they attempt to make you believe that you can’t either.

2. A Limitator/Dream Crusher — This person gives words of doubt and provides excuses to limit your goals in life. They express and pour their fears onto you. Their negative views try to box you into their narrow-focused worldview. They can’t see past their limited vision and inadvertently cut down your success level to match their own.

Run from these people because sharing any goals with them are immediately followed by a sarcastic remark with unenthusiastic comments that lack encouragement. These are dream crushers!

3. A Faultfinder/Naysayer — This person only sees’s what is wrong with the world and everyone in it. Circumstances dictate their mood and always find someone to blame for their misgivings. They depreciate and condemn any actions you might take or believe that every situation is going to end up falling apart, so “why bother trying” is their reasoning.

Hurting people hurt others so they take out their frustration and pain on people around them. They don’t provide any encouragement yet they are quick to criticize and find all the faults in other people. They don’t have anything nice to say except when they boast about themselves. This is a very toxic person. Throw them out of your circle of influence or avoid contact. If you can’t avoid these people then limit your conversations with them.

4. A Spectator — This person is just taking up space. They are just happy to be there. They do not take away from you, but they don’t add value to your life either.

While engaging in conversation with a spectator, they are on the fence with their opinions and provide vague or general answers. They don’t express how they truly feel and they don’t render solid advice when you need it.

Now that we know what kind of people we should surround ourselves with and how much time to spend with certain negative people. Let’s start right now in this moment with a promise to our happiness and to positive thinking.

The Positivity Pledge

Now that we have a clearer understanding that we hold the power to our thoughts. It’s time to take the positivity pledge:

Photo Credit by Lena Wilson

We attract what we are thinking. Remember, everyone is going to face unique challenges in their life. No one is going to live a perfect life without challenges. If so, then take me to that world right now!

However, even as we face challenges on a daily basis the good news is….we have a choice to believe in what we think. Your thoughts are either going to control you or you are going to control them.

Overcome those negative thoughts with positive ones. Feed your mind with positive and inspiration books, audiobooks, podcasts, seminars, etc. Surround yourself with people who are charismatic and lift you up and stay away from people who are going to tear you down.

Be careful who you choose to have in your life because they can mold, change, and influence your values. Make the choice and decide to spend more time entertaining positive thoughts.

The negative thoughts will come but they won’t hold any power over your mind because you make the decision to adopt a new attitude. Start converting those negative thoughts to positive ones and see your life change for the better.

Maria Roark ~ Writer, B.S. Health Science, Blogger at Mommapreneur