Negative thoughts. They’re like an army of ants.
It might start with one or two and, before you know it, your personal space has been completely invaded and they’re taking over everything.
It reminds me of a memory from a few years ago before I moved to Sydney and started my blog, I think I was about 25. I was doing my usual Internetting (you know when you click through a link and then another and then another, and suddenly you discover something else and you’re not quite sure how you got there?) and I stumbled upon Tavi Gervinson. I don’t know if you know her, but at the time she was 13 and had a well-known blog, was being invited to fashion shows all around the world and was getting regular designer clothing donations.
Did I mention she was 13?
Anyway, on this particular day, I was already probably in a headspace of ‘what the f*** am I doing with my life?‘ and seeing this talented young soul splashed on my screen kind of sent me into a downward spiral.
How is she doing this? I’m so old. I haven’t achieved anything. I’ve wasted my life. Why am I even bothering? I’m never going to be successful or achieve anything I want…
And so on.
By the end of it, I kid you not, I was lying on the floor, practically comatose in self doubt and comparisonitis.
What the hell?!
I can assure you that now, while I’m probably more of a work-in-progress than ever and constantly surrounded by super wonderful and successful people, this is no longer the result of my crazy brain.
Why? Because I learned one very important thing:
At the end of the day, the only thing that you can control is how YOU react to a situation. That is all.
We cannot control the success or achievements of others. Only how we react to them. People are going to do what suits them or what they think is best and that isn’t always necessarily going to align with our thinking. Basically, shit happens and we can do nothing about it except be reassured by the knowledge that all we can control is ourselves.
It’s kind of liberating really, don’t you think?
Sure, you might not get steamrolled by a 13-year-old style blogger/magazine editor/fashionista the way I did. You might laugh at the thought of that even happening to someone. I get that. But there are plenty of other ways for the ants to get in and take over the kitchen, for example:
Do you find yourself getting worked about a work colleague who seems to be making your life harder, or a room mate who doesn’t do their share? Maybe someone cut you off in traffic and it made you mad, or your mum/friend/arch nemesis said something that pissed you off.
And look, we’re human. Getting annoyed at things outside of our control is pretty high on our list, because it means we don’t have to look within and see what WE could be doing better.
Deflection, for the win.
But, in all seriousness, does that actually achieve anything?
I’m going to go with a resounding NO on this one.
It usually ends in frustration, anger, negativity, or tears that infiltrate your thoughts and, ultimately, the rest of your day.
Life is too short to be operating from this zone on a day-to-day basis because of something someone else did or didn’t do!
Each little thing builds up and up and up and suddenly, without warning, a poor, unsuspecting bystander is copping the result of all these little bits of negativity. Sometimes it is friends, family members, or the poor guy in your life. Often times it is you who gets it.
Ever had a bad day and turned on someone you love?
Ever escalated a mistake or a bad encounter into an all-out inner battle of self doubt and hateful thoughts?
Yep, we’ve all been there (well, I have at least – see story above as proof of this)
I’m not going to wave a magic wand and wipe out all the negativity from your life, or mine, but I’ve come up with some ways to give negativity the boot.
+ Take a negative situation and look at it with a critical eye. What can you learn from it? How can you be grateful for it?
+ If you find yourself bogged down in a negative space, get out and clear your head. The thing with negativity is it can quickly become a vicious downward spiral until you suddenly find yourself in a much worse place that will be harder to get out of.
+ When you find yourself saying or thinking something negative, stop straight away. It might feel weird at first, but training yourself to recognise and do an about face is pretty freaking admirable (just saying). And the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
+ Try and understand the other person’s side of things or what you’d do in their situation. You still might not agree with them but it might make it easier to calm yourself down and practice some empathy (nothing wrong with us all trying a bit more of that!)
+ Remember that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. Hello mindset shift!
+ Keep trying until you find something positive to say or think about a person or situation – once you start looking up, it’s much easier to keep going.
+ Your attitude determines 99.9% of the situation you are in. How can you look at where you are with a positive attitude?
We make the choice about how we feel or how we handle a situation. It is easy to be negative but it is so much more fulfilling to be in control of ourselves, that much I can promise you
Got any advice or suggestions of your own to keep the negativity ant trail out of your mind? Leave a comment below because I would love to add to my list!