This is a guest post by Rachel of RachelWojo.com
The alarm sounded, but the mental fog remained. I blinked a few times and then it hit me. “Oh, no! We’re late!” Life had been thriving at breakneck speed and I was exhausted. Who knew how many times I had hit the snooze? The children and I had overslept after my husband left early for work. By 45 minutes! I quickly threw on the clothes I wore the previous day, splashed water on my face, and shoved a piece of peppermint gum in my mouth. Who had time to brush teeth? With 6 children to care for, 3 of whom were missing the bus, oversleeping was more than a terrible start to the day. We rushed, slammed, and took every shortcut possible. I somehow managed to pull the van in front of the school just 15 minutes past the first bell. 3 slightly disheveled children popped out and “I love yous” were cut off by slamming doors.
Maybe you’ve never overslept or your kids have never been late to school. But regardless of the circumstances, I know you’ve dealt with what happened next. On the short drive home, I felt it creeping up from my toes and making its way through every nerve. The thoughts began with “I am the worst mother ever. How could I do this?” and continued on with “What grown woman oversleeps? Now we’re going to be running late the rest of the day….” The thinking pattern escalated and what began with emotions over an accidental oversleeping episode ended with the tornado of a negative mindset.
Have you been there? When overwhelming circumstances consumed you and one negative thought led to another that led to another that led to another? How can you stop the negativity and prevent ruin? Today I want to share with you 4 Simple Ways to Overcome a Negative Attitude. No matter the circumstances, these tips will help improve your ability to stop negative internal chatter before it overpowers you in the moment.
1. Refuse to repeat the negative thought.
Catching ourselves at the first sign of negativity presents the opportunity to discard the beginning thought before it breeds another. Training myself to pause at the first sign of skepticism has improved my general thought cycles. I can be stubborn about other things; why not be stubborn about protecting my mind? Standing the ground of “I’m not going there…” requires a deliberate turn from negativity. Identifying a negative thought as soon as we have one can help us refuse to repeat the cycle.
2. Choose to believe truth over the negative feeling.
Separating how we feel from the truth of a matter can be difficult. But does hitting the snooze one morning and oversleeping make me the worst mother in the world? No. Although I felt like the worst mother in the world the day my family overslept, the truth is “I’m a real mom who’s doing her best for God and her family each day.” At the first hint of a negative thought, identify the thought as fact or feeling. For me, identifying truth is reminding myself of what God’s Word says.
3. Remember to speak as kindly to myself as I would to others
It’s easy to quote the “golden rule” to our children, right? “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” But sometimes we treat ourselves worse than we want others to treat us. The conversations we carry within our own minds are perhaps more detrimental than some we’ve had with other human beings. My mom gave me three guidelines for conversation when I was a child and I’ve never forgotten them. These guidelines can also be applied to self-talk.
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it necessary?
Are the words I’m thinking about myself true? Would someone who knows me well agree with my thoughts? Would a stranger believe these words to be kind if I said them aloud? Am I belittling myself?
4. Search for an aspect of the circumstance for which I can be thankful.
Finding the good in difficult circumstances is a cultivated effort, right? We all know we need to think positive thoughts, but how do we do that when life presents depression, divorce, or disease?
One of my daughters fights a rare terminal illness, MPS. If I focus on the “average lifespan of 10-15 years,” I experience nothing but negative emotional thoughts. But when I count the blessings instead of the burdens, joy defeats despair. At the very moment a negative thought enters my mind, I purposely look for an opposite truth. These hard core statements require determined effort. For example, if we wind up spending half the day in the doctor’s office for something seemingly small, I’m tempted to think: “What a waste of time!” But I have fought hard to think instead: “We are blessed to be able to have healthcare. I’m so thankful for a doctor who cares and an office who spends time making sure every patient is cared for.” It hasn’t been easy to train myself to change perspective. When I flounder to find a positive, sometimes I use this catch phrase: “This could be worse and because it’s not, I’m thankful.”
If you’re like me, purposely choosing to think positive thoughts is not an easy task. But it is a very worthy one and promotes strength of mind. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if a lightning bolt would come down and zap that negative thought for us? But life doesn’t happen that way. Will it take some work to prevent negative internal chatter? Yes, but the work is well worth the effort.
- Refuse to repeat negativity.
- Choose to believe truth.
- Remember kindness.
- Search for thanks.
Working toward a milestone will always accomplish more than wishing for a miracle.
Ready to take one more step?
Rachel “WOJO” Wojnarowski is the author of the newly released One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving up, blogger at RachelWojo.com, wife, and busy mother. In addition to two previous books, she has also written a popular six-week daily Bible reading plan for children, now used by more than 4 million people worldwide. Rachel loves reading, running, and teaching God’s Word. She and her family live in Ohio.
How do you overcome the negative in your life?