There you go again.
Criticizing yourself with negative thoughts and constantly worrying about what other people think.
You worry about what people think of your opinions and your decisions. You don’t feel good about yourself, so you hold back. But this only achieves one thing. It keeps you right where you are in life, missing opportunities and wondering what if…
What if I had applied for that job, or what if I had asked that person on a date?
Allowing your negative thoughts to chip away at your confidence bit by bit does more harm to your self-belief than anything said by other people.
And you know what? Those negative thoughts are just lies.
So it’s time to change the narrative, and you are the only one who can.
You should never let your worries stop you from achieving your hopes and plans. Worry, or negative thinking, is only driven by fear. A fear of the future or of failure. But with the right tactics, you can banish these thoughts from ever holding you back.
The following seven steps will radically change how such thinking affects you. Once you start using your mental powers differently, you’ll be bursting with newfound confidence.
1. Recognize the true impact of your thoughts
Gather evidence about how your thinking affects your daily experience. By knowing and observing your thoughts, you will come to recognize when and how they affect the events in your life.
Take a few minutes each day to reflect on how you felt at different times. Write in a journal to record how certain thoughts made you feel and when they occurred. Then ask yourself how those feelings affected your mood and outlook. Once you see patterns, you’ll be able to anticipate them more effectively.
2. Stop lying to yourself
Negative thoughts or worrying can be shown for what they truly are. False. Worrying is a form of lying to yourself.
For example, in the run-up to a recent vacation, I started to worry about flying. In my mind, I pictured all kinds of scary possibilities. So I said to myself, “Right, let’s see what happens,” and carried on regardless.
Well, the holiday turned out to be a nice, relaxing time. Travel went without a hitch, and my negative thoughts proved to be a million miles from reality. Just fiction. Try collecting a few of your own examples like this to see just how unfounded worry can be.
3. Trust in a friend
Don’t feel you have to face this challenge by yourself. Confide in people you can trust.
A friend might also have recurring negative thoughts thereby giving you both an opportunity to discuss and support each other.
Chatting over a coffee and being open about your thoughts with a friend will not only help you take a rational look at your thoughts, but friends also offer you the advantage of being on the outside looking in. They’ll see a version of you without the influence of your mental narrative, giving you another voice to listen to.
4. Plan your worry
In Dr. Wayne Dyer’s first book, Your Erroneous Zones, he teaches us that not one moment of worry will make things any better. It’s not just false but also a waste of time.
You must live life regardless of worry, seizing exciting opportunities and believing in yourself.
One way to help is to set specific times just for worrying. Try reserving 5–10 minutes a couple of times a week to have a good old worry about things. After this period of deliberate negative thinking, jump right back into life safe in the knowledge that you’re done with worrying for a while. This will help you box negative thinking into specific times, encouraging you to live negative-free the rest of the week.
5. Cultivate new thoughts
You probably know why you have negative thoughts. Maybe slow progress in your career has made you doubt your abilities? Perhaps you tried a new hobby and gave up? Negative events can pull you into a habit of negative thinking, and before you know it, confidence is lost.
Whatever the cause, you can encourage more positive thoughts by purposefully separating the past, even recent past, from the present and giving your mind something new to think about. You might consider the following:
- developing new friendships that can lead to new interests and experiences
- expressing gratitude for the people and life you know today because this shifts the focus from self-criticism to caring
- finding joy in the present moment because this values the only moment you truly have
By dwelling on new experiences and the good things you have in life, you are more able to replace negative thinking with more positive thoughts.
6. Cherish your strengths
Don’t let negative thinking about one area of your life cast a shadow over other areas. When you’re conscious of negative thinking, turn your attention to positive aspects of your life, and cherish and value them. Your home, friends, health, job, and just being alive are all tremendous things to be grateful for.
Give yourself a slap on the back when you’ve done something you’re happy with. Nothing’s wrong with a little self-love now and again, so don’t be modest; praise yourself.
7. Look the other way
Your greatest weapon is knowledge. The knowledge that your confidence does not depend on other people, things, or possessions. It depends only on your thoughts and how you entertain those thoughts.
When negative thoughts come, just relax and look the other way. You may never eliminate them, but you can learn to ignore them.
Read lots of good books or meditate to relax the mind. Get fit because a healthy body promotes a positive mind. And never, ever worry about what other people think. (If you’re like me, you’ll probably guess wrong anyway.)
Start Believing in Yourself Now
Confidence is delicate and needs lots of tender loving care. It’s always under attack, but you are its true champion.
Don’t wait for somebody to give you a magic cure for negative thinking. Because you don’t need one.
You’re the one that gives airtime to the lies, and only you can change the channel. You have a life within your grasp where negative thoughts no longer cripple you and where doubts and worries no longer stop you.
So what are you waiting for?
Go grasp it.
Alan Marsden presents thoughtful and effective insights on achieving confidence, health and happiness. Join Alan on the journey of discovery at mindbodyandtech.com