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What Negativity has Taught Me About Life

We all experience negative thoughts at times, and we have been accustomed to treating them as a bad things that should be fought or avoided, or that it is a sign of weakness. As a result, the way we deal with negativity is often accompanied by being angry with ourselves, which makes these negative thoughts hold us back by keeping us “stuck in our own heads”, without the ability to move forward. However, you’ll be surprised to learn that it is these “negative” thoughts that can teach us some very important lessons, and our fear of negativity is preventing us from learning these lessons. Next time your mind wanders into the “negative zone”, don’t try and shove them down, and instead use them as stairs to climb back up. Here are the seven most important lessons you can learn from negative thoughts.


1. If you’re lost, negativity can be your compass

Being angry at yourself in times of crisis can cause you to become lost in a sea of thoughts, and even forget why you got to this state in the first place, preventing you from avoiding it next time. Instead, try using your negative thoughts as a compass: think of why you became angry in the first place to try and find the source of your frustration, as well as remind you where you want to be. You can guide your search with questions such as:

  • When did I become angry with myself?
  • Has this sort of thing happen in the past?
  • Was my reactions to this situation different last time?
  • If I acted differently, was I more or less frustrated?

Another way of using negative thoughts as a compass is by mapping out your fears or the obstacles in your way of feeling better. Try asking yourself:

  • Am I mad at myself because there’s something I could have done differently?
  • If so, can I avoid this type of obstacle next time?
  • Are there other ways to approach this problem?
  • What can I do differently next time?

2. Falling into familiar holes doesn’t become less painful

Imagine walking down the street and suddenly you fall into a hole. The first time it happens, you’ll be mad at the city for the bad planning, the second time you’ll be mad because they still haven’t fixed the problem despite of the risk, but the third time you’ll be mad at yourself, because you should have remembered that there’s a hole there. Why did you fall into that hole time after time? Most likely because you weren’t looking where you’re heading, and were too busy blaming others, thus avoiding your own responsibility.

The best way to deal with such “holes” in your life is made out of several stages: Covering the hole if you can, finding a way around the hole while it’s still there, and keep looking forward to avoid falling into that hole (or others) in the future. Instead of blaming others for your predicament, take responsibility for what you can do differently and do it.


3. Your best friend is you

Negativity turns you into your own judge, jury, and executioner. As proof, we still remember certain mistakes we’ve made in the past that others have already forgotten. However, we tend to ignore the most important lesson that each negative thought carries with it: just as we are our own worst judges, we are also our best friends.

Instead of running in circles, finding yourself guilty time and time again, try looking at the problem impartially, as if a friend is telling you about their problem and is asking for your opinion. What would be your advice? Is this really a problem that cannot be overcome? When you look at an issue from the sideline, you can often find a solution more easily. If you keep practicing this lesson, you’ll find it easier to connect to yourself, and stop judging yourself so harshly.


4. No one knows everything

Many of our negative thoughts originate from the false assumption that they are indisputable facts. We can be sure that there is only one reason for our failings, or that people act a certain way because of one specific reason. These assumptions can be completely wrong, making them into the feet we use to trip ourselves over when dealing with future problems.

If we think that a colleague has no time for us because they don’t like us, we won’t be able to communicate with them positively in the future, even if their reason was that they were busy, or weren’t feeling well when we approached them. Such an incident can lead us to analyze our relationship with others incorrectly as well as, causing us to make the same mistakes in the future time and time again. In quite the same way, getting a rejection when applying for a job can make us think we’re not talented enough, when that position may have been made redundant because of various reasons.

Try reminding yourself that in any negative situation, some things that you’re not aware of and are beyond your control may have taken place. Remember that nobody is omniscient, and that’s perfectly fine.


5. If you think you’re drowning in negativity, you’re probably wrong

Do you think that everything bad that happens to you is the result of personal malice, and that bad things keep happening to you all the time? It may be time to stop for a moment and remind yourself that the worst thing that is happening is what you’re doing to yourself. Every negative thought provides us with two options: fall into despair or learn and grow. Sadly, most of us choose the first option.

In order to help yourself see the situation in a broader perspective, assign every negative thought a couple of new friends: factual proof, and a different interpretation. Factual proof is the basis of assessing your situation (example: if a friend is mad at you, what are we basing our understanding of that anger?), at the same time, even if you’re sure that your interpretation is correct, train yourself to try and come up with an alternative, logical interpretation of the situation. It might just be the right interpretation after all.


6. Some positive thoughts are disguised as negative ones

Not all thoughts that begin in a negative tone are necessarily negative themselves. It may surprise you, but if you think about this, you’ll find out that it is indeed the case. You may be imagining the worst possible scenario about something that may happen to someone you hold dear, but this thought is actually a positive thought, originating in love and care for that person.

Try and express as many negative thoughts in a positive way and you may find out that people who originally reacted to these thoughts in a negative way now react to them differently, once they understand the source of your fears or anger.


7. To move forward, stop collecting trash

After you’ve sifted through your negative thoughts and learnt as much as you can from them, you can divide them to negative thoughts that can help you, and those that are nothing but “trash”. In other words, don’t let the trashy thoughts take up space in your head – they’ll only slow you down and make you feel unhappy.

No one likes to live in a house that is filled with trash, and the same goes for your head. Instead of punishing yourself by filling yourself with these unnecessary thoughts, which exact a heavy toll on your mental state, try disposing of them as soon as you can. If a negative thought pops up, treat it as a memo to clear up your mind and make room for positivity instead.

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