I spent over ten years of my life with untreated clinical depression. Eventually, I found a great Doctor and Therapist that were able to help me start my journey to recovery.
However, after all of those years of being depressed and letting my negative thoughts run wild my brain was really negative. I always found the worst in every situation and I was constantly complaining.
I knew if I was going to recover from depression I was going to have to change my mindset. The first step in doing that was to change what I was focusing on. You can find good and bad in every situation that life presents you but if you choose to always focus on the negative life is going to be really hard.
Notice What You Think About
Before I started changing my thoughts I started noticing what my thoughts were about and what areas of my life were the most negative. I tried to not to judge my thoughts but just notice the patterns and the things I tend to focus on.
Some of these things will require deep inner work and could even take a long period of healing. If you’ve been telling yourself that you’re ugly and that you hate your body it’s going to be really hard to start believing you’re beautiful overnight. However, you can start noticing where you’re the most negative so you can start to change your focus. When you notice you’re focusing on something negative gently redirect your thoughts somewhere else. Instead of telling yourself you’re wrong for hating your body simply choose a new thought.
Call up a favorite memory or something that makes you feel good or think about someone that care about. There are so many beautiful things in this life you can choose to focus on. It can take a long time to train yourself to focus on the beautiful and wonderful parts of your life but it is so worth the effort.
How Are You Telling Stories?
Realizing that the narratives I was telling myself were just stories and not the actual TRUTH was so empowering for me. When I realized I got to decide how I choose to see things I started to have massive shifts in my mindset.
Whenever a situation doesn’t feel good to me I ask myself “what is a more empowering story I can tell about this?”. You can choose to tell yourself narratives that feel good to you. Recently, I’ve been telling new stories about dating. Instead of telling myself “men are terrible, being single is so hard and I’m never going to meet anyone” I started telling myself “there are so many exceptional men I can connect with and spend time with. Being single is amazing and gives me so much time to grow into the best version of myself. I know the perfect relationship is coming at the perfect time”.
Neither of these narratives are more true than the other it’s just how you choose to see it. My new narrative makes dating seem fun and exciting while the old one makes the situation feel like a struggle or even completely hopeless.
How Do You Talk To Other People
Once you start telling yourself new narratives speaking them out loud can be really empowering and help you shift into your new beliefs. Pay attention to what you tell other people.
Are you often complaining?
Do you point out the negative in every situation?
Start challenging yourself to point out good things to other people. It’s great for your own mindset but it also helps other people feel better about their lives too. Focusing on the positive is a great example to set and you can serve as an example for other people to follow to live a more positive and joy-filled life.
When I first started doing this I struggled to make conversation without complaining or pointing out the negative. It had been my habit for so long it was difficult to break. I broke it by challenging myself to give everyone I talked to a compliment. After I did that for a while I started to point out what I liked about the day or the situation I was in. The more I did it the easier it got and the better I felt.
People tend to reflect back to you what you put out. If you complain they will often make a negative comment but if you point out the good things in the situation they will usually do the same.
Switch Complaining For Gratitude
At a certain point in my recovery, I realized if I wanted to take my life to the next level I had to give up complaining. It was tough because being cynical was part of my personality and my identity after all those years of negativity. I didn’t see myself as an optimistic person and it took a really long time for me to step into that identity. I’m so glad that I did though. Giving up complaining changed my life in so many ways, it made the bad days easier and the good days even better.
The less I complained the fewer bad days I had and as I started to train myself to always focus on the good in every situation I felt better and better. When I notice myself focusing on what I don’t like I redirect my focus onto something I am thankful for in my life. I also started writing gratitude lists all the time and it really helped me retrain my brain to look for the good in situations instead of the bad. When I first started this practice I wrote 100 things I was thankful for every night. At first, it was really difficult but after a while my brain started to point out good things I could add to the list throughout the day. Now anytime there is any small thing I can add to my gratitude list in the evening I store it away and it’s really helped me learn to look for good things that are happening to me throughout the day.
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