On this journey to becoming a better person, ridding myself of some of my demons, I have to set goals. One of the goals that I have been working on for the last two weeks is removing negative thinking. As we go throughout our day, we are often talking to ourselves and this constant dialogue is going on inside our heads. Before we can really even think about a situation that has happened, we have formed an opinion and said something to ourself about it. And this goes on all day long. Sometimes this is a great thing, sometimes it is not.
The problem arises when we start to tell ourselves lies. We often lie to ourselves to either make an excuse for ourselves, someone else, to make the situation something it isn’t; who knows! There are a million reasons why we do this. We tend to do three things when we are lying to ourselves. First, we think something is what is it not. We think something should be. “My husband should have known the trash needed to be taken out.” “That student should have known that this assignment was due.” “That guy should not have pulled out in front of me!” There are a million shoulds that we tell ourself. But the truth is, we can’t know what is going on with another person. We can’t assume that all people believe what we believe, place importance on what we do, and that they are even paying attention. Should is my biggest enemy. I forget that things are not always the way I see them, and my shoulding often leads me to be irritable, cranky, and mostly unpleasant to be around.
The second thing we do is assume. Too often we assume something is not what it is. We exaggerate things in our minds, and we let it play tricks on us. We assume that all people know that when the dishwasher is full to empty it. We assume that most people understand that you should let people out of the bus first, and then get on it after they are off. We assume many things about many people. I let these false assumptions get to me. I know that everyone is different. And I know that assuming makes an ass out of you and me.
The third thing we do we take a situation and make the reality our own. Someone pulls out in front of you on the road. We get angry, call them a jerk, yell at them behind the wheel of our car, and start to get angry at all the drivers around us. In reality, this altercation took up about five seconds of our lives. We made it something far greater than what it is. Giving a speech, I tripped over a few words. I tend to focus only on that particular moment, instead of the fact that the speech was important, moving and inspirational. We tend to turn toward the negative. Likewise, we tend to turn it toward ourselves. I failed. I’m not good enough. Did anyone see what I just did? And really, if everyone is focused on themselves, which we all are, and which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, who was really watching?
Either way, focusing on my negative self talk has been my biggest goal currently. I found it surprisingly easy to be conscious of when I’m doing it. I thought it was going to be nearly impossible, and something I would fail at. But I didn’t. I won’t say there aren’t situations where I haven’t thought about it, and let my natural instinct flare up, but ultimately, I’ve realized how often I tear myself down, and let the smallest of details consume my day. It’s been interesting to watch myself, and to notice the change in my last two weeks as compared to what my life has been.
I challenge you to take a moment and listen to that inner voice. What exactly is it saying to you? Are you telling yourself these lies that we so often do? Are you assuming, are you shoulding someone? Are you looking at the reality of the situation? It’s amazing when you are conscious of it how different the world looks and how much different you feel. I’m hoping this is a positive first step toward learning to let things go, and just being a happier me. Enough with the negativity; let’s focus on the positive!