NEGATIVE THOUGHTS CAN STOP US MAKING THE MOST OF LIFE. BUT BY BEING POSITIVE AND PRODUCTIVE WE CAN COMBAT THESE AND WASTE LESS TIME WORRYING
I lost my dad recently. As indescribably sad as that situation is I have found something positive in the experience – that it has cured many of my fears.
Being with someone at the end of their days has a funny way of making you notice your vulnerability. You reconsider your purpose and priorities. You look at life and what you want from it in a totally different way than you did before.
I definitely don’t want to spend my days worrying about things that might never happen. Or what other people think. Because these negative thoughts are taking space from happy ones. Time I could have spent planning fun stuff.
You have to let the bad out to let the good in. And that requires changing the way you approach bad situations. These tips are what I find works for me.
YOUR FEAR’S AS REAL AS THE MONSTER UNDER THE BED
My dad definitely taught me not to be scared of things that are imaginary. Unless the real end result of your fear scenario is something catastrophic like death then you’ve really not got much to worry about.
My crisis management qualification and experience tells me it’s good to plan for the worst. But you need to keep things in perspective. You can’t control everything.
What you can do is restricting your imagination by putting it to another creative use.
FACING UP TO THE ‘BUT WHAT IF’ FEARS
When the worst case scenario comes into your head let your imagination take off with it for a while. Think about every awful possibility. Then have a stern word with yourself.
Answer the voices that are trying to tell you something bad will happen. Tell them what you’ll do if it comes true. Things will seem far less scary once you’ve confronted them. The same goes for bad memories too.
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
When past mistakes keep you awake think instead about what you’ve learnt from them. And how these can help you in the future. One thing you should be scared of is regretting not going after something you really want from life in case it didn’t work out.
Failure is nothing to fear. It’s fine to give something a go if you have good intentions. Anyone who really cares about you, who’s worth having in your life, will want you to do well. If you try and it doesn’t work out then these people will still be there for you.
Forget the ones you think might laugh. By worrying about their opinions you’re making them a priority. They don’t care about you so don’t care about them. They’re probably more concerned with their own lives to have even noticed yours.
JUST GET THE HELL ON WITH IT
I’m definitely the sort of person who deals with negative thoughts by being busy. I much prefer filling my time with doing good and what makes me happy. It means I have less of it to spend worrying.
I find being a parent also helps. I can’t put it any better than Robyn Wilder does in her excellent article: “one life might be ending but another is trying to stick sweetcorn up its nose.”
Life goes on. You just have to deal with the bad times for the sake of others who can’t be expected to understand.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
The future’s what you really need to be worried about. Making positive choices now will reduce negative thoughts then. Do something to create good memories. Things your future self will thank you for.
When times get a bit crappy I also like escaping to the world of Instagram for a while. It might be fake but it’s a pretty, happy alternative to all that negativity. Find me @amywardlaw.
Some other things that are also worth reading on this:
- ‘If You Have To Cry Go Outside’ by Kelly Cutrone. This book changed the way I look at a lot of things, not least keeping my cool under pressure.
- If, poem by Rudyard Kipling. Although it’s over 100 years old it offers some incredible advice on keeping things in perspective.
Image: William Murphy