Here are techniques for getting your mind into a better and more productive space
If you’re dealing with stress about work, school, or family, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle with negative feelings. The important thing is not to let a bad attitude get in the way of enjoying your life or achieving your goals. It can take some discipline to keep yourself in a more positive place, but once you start noticing it, you’ll find it can become a habit. Some people even believe that positive thinking is powerful enough to transform almost any situation. You should experiment and see for yourself!
So here are suggestions for ways to let go of that negative thinking and get in touch with the power you have within you to think positive!
1. Acknowledge your achievements
Take time to stop and honor yourself when you’ve done something well. Achieving a goal, whether it’s a good grade on an exam or a difficult task at your job, is worth noticing. The achievement might be in the effort you made, as much as an outcome that the effort produced. It can help to write down what you’ve accomplished over the course of a week. Also make a point to start noticing what your peers are achieving. When you give them positive reinforcement, the entire environment becomes more positive.
2. Use positive self-talk
When you think about yourself or your performance, steer clear of criticizing yourself. Focus on skills you’ve developed and what you already do well. If you begin every new endeavor caught up in the reasons you won’t succeed, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Positive self-talk doesn’t mean that you are ignoring reality. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way.” To use positive self-talk effectively, talk to yourself about the ways you can improve if you put in a little effort.
Once you get the hang of positive self-talk, try to talk positively about others too. Avoid second-guessing those around you. If you have a colleague or instructor who’s not your favorite, spend some time trying to identify what they do well, rather than focusing only on what you don’t like about them.
3. Hesitate before reacting
You may not realize it, but you have a profound impact on whatever environment you’re in. At your workplace, at home, or at school, other people feel the energy of your words and actions. If someone else criticizes you, complains, or gets angry or aggressive, remember that you have the power to diffuse the situation rather than aggravate it. Take a breath, take in what the other person is saying, and then find a way to respond with some positive energy. You can politely disagree and tell them you don’t have the same experience, but you’re sorry they’re feeling that way. You can offer to help them if you have an idea about how to make things better. Rather than being defensive, and piling on the negativity, you can help to take the conversation in a different and more productive direction. Over time, you may notice people don’t waste their energy being negative with you.
4. Be willing to offer forgiveness
Arguing with others is an easy habit to fall into, but it rarely improves a situation. If you’re frustrated with something one of your coworkers or family members is doing, don’t bring it up with them in the heat of the moment. Wait until you are calm, and have had a chance to think through what you want to say. Or, even better, try to forgive the weakness that the other person is demonstrating. Work to create an environment that focuses on everyone’s strengths. Let people know when you notice they’re doing something kind, useful, or helpful. If you put yourself in their shoes, you may be able to back away from your judgments about them and learn to appreciate their perspective. Over time this can lead to a scenario where people can work together and trust each other, rather than complain about or critique one another.
5. Take a break from texting and social media
If you’re mired in online discussions throughout the day, then you’re missing opportunities to interact in meaningful ways with those in the same room. It’s easier to get into arguments with people when you can’t see their face. Social media offers endless subjects to debate with people you may have never met. Even with your friends, you may find you say things you wouldn’t if they were right in front of you. If you’re indulging in this behavior throughout the day, you’re probably spending a lot of energy defending yourself against challenges or attacks. There are more positive ways to spend your down time, and you can start by noticing who’s right in front of you. There could be a colleague or a classmate who is struggling or could use some help. Or perhaps all they need is a kind word to make their day a little brighter. Sometimes all it takes is someone asking how they are to make them feel better. So don’t let your phone rule your life and blind you to opportunities to connect with those around you. Your presence and attention matter, and they can have a strong influence. (If you find it challenging to step away from your devices, we’ve got some tips for ways to break your cell phone addiction.)
6. Help others become more positive, too
We all have friends and colleagues who like to complain. Don’t let their negativity set the standard for all your interactions. You have the power to help them see the bright side of a situation. If you let them know you care more about making positive change than about spending time and energy on negative thoughts, they might start to catch on to your way of seeing and doing things. Or at least they might find someone else to complain to. Either way, you’re in a better position to stay focused on your work and future success. Sometimes even simply changing the subject is enough to set things on a positive track. The important thing is to remember that you have the potential to affect those around you.
Start today to find ways to bring out the positive person you already have inside you! If you spend time on this aspect of your personality, you’ll find that positive people and good experiences come to you. Once you invest in a new attitude, you can begin to reap the benefits, in your relationships as well as your career. What are you waiting for?
This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, in Manchester, NH. Visit us online to learn more about our three nursing career programs: Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Technician, and Practical Nurse. Or schedule a campus tour by calling (603) 622-8400. Build a more positive future for yourself by starting a new career path at Salter Nursing.