We all wish we can feel less and think more positive at times. I know I’ve had this experience and I’ve heard people say it or tweet it. Whilst emotions are a good thing; they tell us what we need. Sometimes a downturn in mood or experiences of depression can make it that much hard to acknowledge the positives. Put simply, when the clouds are out the sun is that much harder to see. So, when everything looks bleak and negative thoughts plague, how can we see the positives?
For A Guide to Gaining a Positive Perspective read here.
I know when a negative thought hits, another one is usually biting at it’s heels. For me, a single rare thought is a rarity. This is unfortunate, as one negative thought is far easier to manage. In comparison say to a hoard of them. My experience is more of a domino effect. One negative following the one. And thus, my mood spirals along with it. When my mood is laready low, or I’m frustrated or angry. A mistake I may usually be able to brush off or forgive myself for and can lead to ‘I’m so stupid’. In less than five minutes flat I can have convinced my self I cannot do anything and therefore shouldn’t try. When this happens, taking notice is the first thing for me to do. This may seem obvious or even silly because of course I know it’s happening. But knowing it’s happening and really noticing the impact is different.
Ideally at this stage we would try and combat these thoughts. I like the idea of taking your thoughts to court. But I’m not there yet. Not at this stage. My thoughts come swiftly and the situation only magnifies. I don’t have the coherence of thought or logic to challenge the negativity. Instead I press pause. This is the simple act of trying to clear one’s mind. Or to refuse to engage with any further thoughts. It’s not a time for arguing with them or colluding them. We may not even be able to silence them. But see if you can notice, and either press pause or put to one side. Some of us may be able to do this effectively. Others of us may need to literally distract or hold the thoughts. We can try and do this with any activity that gets us out our head. These could include music, doing a puzzle, writing them down or talking about them. For some of us it may be letting the thoughts wash over us.
For A Guide to Pressing Pause for your Mental Health read here.
See the Positive
Once we’ve given ourselves a break and hopefully found some bandwidth. We may feel ready to meet the thoughts head on. If we’ve managed the stage above, we may be feeling a bit better already. But that stage is not about solving or positivity. It’s about holding and containing our thoughts. Rather than any specific action on our part. Then is a time for passivity. Now is a time for action. Many of us may have found success with take your thoughts to court. It’s all about looking for evidence for your thoughts. You could ask yourself certain relevant questions. For example, “am I really good at nothing?”, “do I have proof no one likes or cares for me?”. Or whatever is relevant to your specific set of negatives. Try and build up an evidence base. You may wish to write these down for future reference. Search your memories. Speak to others to get reassurance. Perhaps look at emails, birthday cards, messages. Anything which will demonstrate people’s care and concern or a job well done.
For Thought Distortions: What Are They? read here.
Shift the Mood
We know that our moods and thoughts are inextricably linked. If we are able to challenge our thoughts, we may have shifted our mood too. But we won’t all feel incredibly positive all of a sudden. We may be able to shift our thoughts into a less negative or neutral space. And we need to give ourselves to do this. Each stage may take a while, so don’t expect your mood to shift immediately. However, after a while we may feel a certain lightness creeping in. We can help this along by investing time in things and people we enjoy. I know that when I’m low, or having negative thoughts, I find it that much harder to engage with activities or people. Even those I truly enjoy. By first acknowledging, giving myself time to pause and get some space and then challenging the thoughts. I am hopefully in a more balanced state of mind allowing me to move more gradually (and successfully!) to the positive. In this step it’s important to find what works for you. Different times may necessitated different activities. In the evening something more relaxing may help. During the day it could be music or exercise. Ideally an activity where you can find flow, a sense of timelessness is a good pick. You’ll be doing something you enjoy but you’ll also forget everything else. It can be very freeing.
It’s Positive Time!
An uplifted mood is far more conducive to being more positive. For some of us it may happen naturally anyway. We may also need a bit of a nudge. If shifting your mood hasn’t work, or the positives aren’t yet evident. Try capturing some of those warm fuzzies yourself. This could be looking through photos or memorabilia. A reminder of a happy time can boost mood and help positive feelings. Reminding yourself of a time you were in a positive frame of mind. Speaking to others, especially those who are our natural cheerleaders, can help too. We may wish to talk to them about what we’re experiencing. This allows them more directly to assure us of how wonderful we are. But again, not all of us will automatically believe it. The cynic in me rarely let’s that happen. But even spending time with others who love and encourage you can be helpful. Just being in their presence can remind you of how valued you are and help you think positively.
What are your thoughts on finding the positives particularly when our mood is low? How do they help you? As always, let us know below!