The difference between a positive and a negative mindset ..and how to change it
Mindset refers to the way we think, our outlook or perspective on life, the attitudes and ideas to which we approach (often difficult) situations and whether we like it or not we are all affected by our mindset.
Are you a glass half empty or glass half full person? is often asked of us to determine if we have a default ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ mindset and, if were honest, we can all probably relate to falling into a one or the other as a general rule of thumb.
Both positive and negative mindsets are usually developed over time from when we were little people learning and observing from the big and important people in our lives like parents, grandparents, teachers etc and from events and circumstances that occur throughout our lives.
If you have a negative mindset it can be difficult to see the positive side of things. Your mind focuses and imagines all possible negative outcomes, you often find you also have negative self-talk and this can cause stress and anxiety and in the longer term poor mental and physical health.
With a positive mindset you tend to automatically see the possibilities and opportunities in life and even in your darkest times you tend to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will get through it.
The great news is that positive mindsets can be cultivated and learnt because mindsets are after all purely beliefs that we hold to be true.
Holding a Positive mindset can give you more confidence, help you feel happier in general and better able to cope and help reduce the likelihood of developing stress related illnesses.
Beliefs, even if we have had them since we were little, once identified can be unlearnt and replaced with new ones.
So, if Mindset (what we think) affects our behaviours (what we do) and our behaviours impact our outcomes. (the results we get) we can choose to change.
Choose what to believe, choose to adopt a positive mindset.
Change your mindset = Change your behaviour = Change your outcome
So how do you adopt a positive mindset?
Even the most positive of people can fall into patterns of negative thinking and “woe is me” “ victimitis” when things aren’t going to plan for sustained periods.
Here are some ideas to help overcome negative thoughts that you can try out
You can change your mindset. It will take time and lots of conscious effort but it is definitely worth doing.
Meditate and breathe
Practising breathing techniques. We tend to breathe more quickly, higher in our chests and shallower when we are stressed or anxious. by breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, slowing our breathing down and taking deeper, slower “belly” breathes we can create a feeling of calmness.
Mindfulness and meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time. There are many different ways of doing this from Yoga, to sitting quietly somewhere focussing on a meaningful word to meditation techniques and meditation apps. Research ways that you find appealing and give it a go. And do things for you instead of trying to please others all the time.do what makes you happy, laugh have fun.
Look up to the sky (literally) and smile.
Smiling for yourself and smiling at others is a natural mood booster. When you look up its almost impossible to frown too. Standing in front of a mirror and smiling to yourself is another option. Seeing your own happy face really does help change your mood and relieve stress. It also takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.
Talk to the mirror
Talk to yourself in the mirror, even if you feel silly, with statements like, “Today will be a good day” or “I’m going to be awesome today.” “I am in control” “ I am a strong and powerful person” “I can do anything I set my mind to”
You’ll be amazed how much your day improves.
Change your posture
When we’re feeling low or down it shows in our body language. We tend to slouch, round our shoulders, try and make ourselves look smaller. So, sit up straight, or stand proud and tall. Imagine a string is pulling you up straight from the top of your head like a puppet. Stand with your hands on your hips feet apart like Peter Pan and say out loud “I am confident” “ I am xxxxx” (fill in the blank) you will feel great. And as with the mirror exercise, you may feel silly and you will also feel great.
Surround yourself with positive people.
When you’re stuck in a negative spiral, talk to people who can put things into perspective and won’t feed your negative thinking.
When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll hear positive outlooks, positive stories and positive affirmations. Their positive words will sink in and affect your own line of thinking, which then affects your words and similarly contributes to the group. Finding positive people to fill up your life can be difficult, but you need to eliminate the negativity in your life before it consumes you. Do what you can to improve the positivity of others, and let their positivity affect you the same way.
Change the tone of your thoughts from negative to positive.
For example, instead of thinking, “I’m useless nothing goes right for me ever” Try thinking “ Ok, this time it didn’t work out exactly as I thought it would. What learning can I take from this?”
Don’t play the victim.
Victimitis is an easy trap to fall into. Blaming others or the universe for your lot is not helpful. You are responsible for your life and no-one else. Hold yourself accountable and do something to move you forwards. Action will get results in the end.
Help someone else
Take the focus away from you and do something nice for another person. Volunteer, do some charity work, do something kind. Research show that people who help out others benefit from it in a positive way.
Be kind to yourself
No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. So, accept it and let it go and allow yourself move forward.
It’s easy to dwell on your mistakes and learning from them is a great way to gain strength. Try identifying 3 things you could learn or do differently as a result of this mistake. You will soon start to see failures as learning opportunities rather than something to beat yourself up over.
Sing and dance like no one is watching
Sing at the top of your lungs, dance like no one is watching and enjoy the feeling of release. When we sing, we show our feelings and this provides an amazing stress relief and surge of feel good hormones.
Being grateful helps you to appreciate what you already have however small. Even when things don’t seem to be going well there is always something you can be grateful for, the fact you woke up today, the sun is shining, you got through the day, your family. Focussing on what you have and what you are grateful for raises your awareness of the positive.
Use positive quotes and affirmations.
Pinterest is a great place for positive quotes and affirmations.
Place Post-It notes with positive quotes on the computer, fridge door, and mirror as reminders to stay positive. Start the day with positive affirmation before you even get out of bed How you start the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day
Turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
Negative self-talk can creep up easily and is often hard to notice. You might think I’m so bad at this or I shouldn’t have tried that. But these thoughts turn into internalized feelings and might cement your beliefs of yourself. When you catch yourself doing this, stop and replace those negative messages with positive ones. For example, I’m so bad at this becomes Once I get more practice, I’ll be way better at this. I shouldn’t have tried becomes That didn’t work out as planned—maybe next time.
Focus on the present.
This moment right now – the present—not today, not this hour, only this exact moment. You might be getting bawled at by the boss, but what in this exact moment is happening that’s so bad? Forget what was said five minutes ago. Forget what he may say five minutes from now. Focus on this one, individual moment. In most situations, you’ll find it’s not as bad as you imagine it to be. Stay in the present moment. Mediation can also help with this process.
Get a coach
Having a coach can help you to identify your limiting beliefs, unpick them and create new more helpful beliefs. A coach can also help you to address things like negative self-talk and unhelpful patterns of behaviour in order to create more resourceful ways of being. A great coach can be a powerful ally and support in helping you move forward.
- Become aware of any negativity, acknowledge it and analyse your thoughts
- Avoid and stop negative self-talk
- Use positive self-talk or mirror mantra’s and affirmations
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Be grateful and even in the worst situations take the time to find a positive. Sometimes it will be very hard but even the smallest positive is better than nothing
- Keep working on it and recognise how far you’ve come. It takes time to develop positive attitudes and change behaviours
I would love to know how you get on with the exercises and if you have any other suggestions I love to hear from you.
Please share and good luck
Quote – Mahatma Gandhi