How To Deal With Negativity When You're Trying To Change Your Life
Every time we set out to change our behaviors, work toward a goal, or just become a better person, the “yucky” stuff always seems to get in the way somehow. I’m referring to habits like:
- Focusing on self-doubt
- Feeling powerless over urges or cravings
- Trying to prove to ourselves we don’t really need to change or we shouldn’t have to
- Thinking about failure associated with past attempts to change
- Feeling the awkwardness of stepping outside of our comfort zone
- Noticing feelings like guilt, shame, doubt, anxiety, frustration, envy, etc...
This can be so distracting that it will stop us from real progress! Plus, it’s exhausting trying to avoid these pesky thoughts and feelings.
I wish I could give you advice on how to eliminate these experiences from your life. Truth is, I can’t. It seems logical that once the “yuckiness” is out of the way, your path to achieving your goals is clear, but actually it’s impossible to completely eliminate these negative thoughts. In fact, the harder you try to push them away, the more intense they become. But the good news is: this doesn't have to derail you from living a life you want.
An alternative way to keep moving toward a meaningful life is to accept these difficult thoughts, feelings, and sensations as a part of life. When we observe these experiences as another entity, rather than “being” us, we can withhold judgment and recognize them for them for what they are: just a thought, just a feeling, and just a sensation.
We are not our thoughts. They don't define us, and they don't dictate our behaviors. Just because I have the thought I am not good enough, doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because we feel “helpless” doesn’t mean we are. Our thoughts and feelings only have as much truth as we choose to give them.
1. Write down one of the thoughts that keeps you from living the life you want and reaching your goals.
2. Sit with that thought, consider it an object that you’re observing. Repeat it in your head until it’s just a sentence.
3. Now write down that thought on a small piece of paper and place it in your pocket.
4. Continue about your day, do what you need to do (i.e. go to the store, cook dinner, etc...) Notice that thought isn’t going away, it’s still in your pocket but it hasn't stopped you from accomplishing your tasks.
Thoughts and beliefs are not what define us. Our behaviors and our actions are what make a living a meaningful life possible. The “yucky” stuff will never go away, but it doesn’t have to stop you from creating a life you love.
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