How I’ve learned to focus on the positives and redirect negative thoughts
“Focus on the positives, and soon the negatives will disappear.” – Live Life Happy
Being able to focus on the positives – especially when it seems like everything is going wrong – can be challenging.
Even so, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do. There are some ways you can practice positive thinking, while also shutting down those negative thoughts that always seem to sneak their way into your mind.
Admittedly, retraining my brain to always try to focus on the positives as I’m navigating my way through life has not been the easiest thing I’ve ever tried to do. But after using a few techniques suggested to me by my counselor, I’ve been able to overcome most of my negative thoughts!
I honestly had no idea how negative my thinking was until I started actually trying to think more positively. It was a conscious effort to do so, especially when I would go to say something negative. But the more I started to pay attention to my thoughts, and redirect the negative ones, the better I got at being able to focus on the positives.
How did I do it? Very carefully….kidding, I’m just kidding!
Seriously though, I had to come up with a plan. I sat down with pen and paper and started brainstorming some ideas. Having ADD makes it more difficult to pay attention, and it also makes me very forgetful. So I knew I had to come up with something that would actually work for me. Things that I wouldn’t forget, that would help me remember to focus on the positives.
Here is what I came up with –
1. I used a technique inspired by ‘Pavlov’s Dogs‘ – I know, it sounds weird, but hear me out. I used my cell phone (because it’s always with me) to set an alarm to go off every hour, with a reminder to think positive. After a week, I went to every 2 hours, then every 3 hours, and so on.
2. Along with my reminder alarms, I practiced mindfulness and mindful thinking skills, so I could also get into the habit of being more aware of my thoughts. It became much easier to adjust my thoughts once I realized what my thoughts were projecting.
3. Positive affirmations – I learned how to pay attention to when I would feel the urge to think or say something negative. And I realized that most of the time, I was being ridiculous or unnecessarily exaggerating the situation.
I was making mountains out of mole hills. Luckily I found a great book that was the perfect guide on positive self talk and learning how to focus on the positives.
4. As I started to become more self aware, it progressed into becoming more aware of negativity coming from those around me. I found myself telling them not to be so negative, and to focus on the positives of the situation.
I started to realize that I was even rubbing my newfound positive thinking off onto others! What? I almost didn’t recognize myself, I had gotten so good at it. And the better I got at it, the better I started to feel.
“Be careful how you are talking to yourself, because you are listening.” – Lisa M. Hayes
Believe it or not, this was a really fun way of changing my thinking. It took some effort at first, but the more I kept at it, the easier it became. When I started to realize it was actually working, I was a little surprised at first. I was probably the most pessimistic person I knew, and I was honestly taken off guard that I was actually able to completely turn my thoughts around!
This is not to say that I don’t still have “bad” days, because I do. I am, after all, only human. But now when I do have one of those days, I have the capability to stop, take a deep breath (or three) and tell myself, “Remember to focus on the positives“.
The impact this change in thoughts and attitude towards life has had amazing effects. My anxiety is much more under control, I’m able to pull myself back up when I start feeling the symptoms of depression coming on, and I smile and laugh a lot more than I think I ever have in my life! I have to say, I’m pretty darn proud of myself.
The only regret I have is not learning how to master this sooner. I’ve always heard a lot about the mind/body connection, and the power of positive thinking, but I never took enough time to learn more. I now work hard to continue to learn more and more every day, as I truly believe we can never have too much knowledge.
You truly can ‘learn something new every day’ if you put your mind to it.
If you decide to try out my ideas to help you learn how to focus on the positives, let me know how they work for you! I’d love some feedback, as I know we’re all different, and we all learn differently as well.
If you have mastered the art of positive thinking, share what worked for you! How were you able to achieve a more positive outlook? I’ve found that looking at things from different perspectives can really open your mind to new possibilities.