It’s very hard to break the cycle of negativity … especially if you don’t even realize you’re in it. When we get in a funk or feel hopeless, the thoughts tend to generate so rapidly that it can be a slippery situation to get out of. Suddenly, everything looks really bleak and one bad thing just proceeds to the next. Stepping out of that dark cloud could feel impossible.
But, we all feel negative, sad or dark at times. This is part of our humanity and normal.
Peter J. Economou, Ph.D., ABPP- Board Certified Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy, also known as Dr. Pete, shares that “Research tells us that most of us have negative thoughts— in fact, the majority of our thoughts are negative, so working on accepting them helps people develop a healthier relationship with these thoughts so that they don’t impact the behavior. I like to think of those negative thoughts as passengers on the bus, rather than the bus driver. So, how do we accept these thoughts and cycles, while committing to healthier and more peaceful living? That is key.”
In other words—if you are having a hard time escaping these negative thoughts and feelings, you’re not alone. What is important is that you try to develop healthy behaviors and habits to have the best life you can. No one is an explosion of sunshine every single day. It is ok if you need help breaking out of the clouds.
In fact, if you’re thinking about making a change or working on yourself, especially after or during the divorce process, consider yourself brave!
Dr. Pete says, “It takes tremendous will for people to work towards healthy living. People find themselves in situations that might include unhealthy dynamics and behaviors. The courage to recognize, accept, and then commit to change is frightening. It takes tremendous will for people to work towards healthy living.”
Making the call to change is a victory in itself—commend yourself for this! Trying to escape your negative cycle is admirable. And while bad things happen to us all, the better your outlook and attitude, the better you will feel no matter what cards life deals for you.
In order to break the cycle, identifying you are trapped is the first part.
Signs that you may be stuck in a bad cycle are:
If this is you, here are a few ways to help encourage peace and positivity in your life.
Got toxic friends? Hanging out with a dramatic, sad or negative crew?
Time to say, “Buh-bye.”
Surround yourself with people who are forward-thinking. Even if they have bad days or moods, these forward-thinking people will forge ahead no matter what. The old saying, “Hang with the dogs—you get the fleas” is true. Stop hanging with the dogs, and find a good crew of uplifting people.
If you really don’t have any positive friends, join Meetups, local support groups or exercise programs in pursuit of others “pursuing happiness.”
Your mental health counts on it. You cannot be surrounded by poop everywhere and expect to have a “rosy” outlook.
While it is hard to sometimes cut ties or reduce a friendship or family relationship, remember it is for the greater good. I was often helping others to the point of worrying or spending too much energy on them. I needed to pick and choose more wisely and doing so has made a huge difference. I adore my crew of people now and feel surrounded by good folks.
Find some empowering and encouraging quotes and post them all around your home, office, car etc.
I often place notes on my room and bathroom mirrors to remind me to stay focused on the good things. On the side of my fridge, you can see one that says, “Things will get better.”
Just spotting these notes of positivity all over your places of work and residence can remind you to focus on thinking good thoughts.
Not only have that but spread the joy throughout your places with:
Dr. Pete recommends trying mindfulness training—which consists of things like meditation, practicing compassion and mindful eating habits. He frequently does this with clients to help them have more peaceful and healthier lives.
When my daughter went to visit her dad for an extended period of time, I found I was eating dinner much. This only led to stomach aches the next day. I also was slacking on my water intake—not something to do during hot summer weather.
Pay attention to your body.
Drinking more water, getting more sleep, eating better… all of these things help you feel better and influence your attitude.
Being mindful of your body’s needs will absolutely affect your greater good.
In a nutshell, we all deal with negative thoughts, but it’s how we deal with them and then, how we cultivate compassion for ourselves, others, and mindfulness of our needs and health that makes all the difference. Change isn’t easy—but if you are taking even tiny baby steps to make your world better, give yourself a pat on the back!
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