Updated: Nov 19, 2022
Negativity surrounds us. You know it and I know it. Continually we are being bombarded by negative thoughts due to our external pressures and internal battles. While researching negativity there is evidence that prolonged negative thinking dramatically affects our ability to retain memories, to think and to reason through things. Naturally, negative thinking robs us of long-term joy. It makes perfect sense. Opposites are important because they make life vibrant and conscious, yet living in negativity is erosive.
Switching our minds from a negative mindset to a positive mindset takes time and energy. It requires incremental and small adjustments to see the brain take on new habits. New research shows that brains have the ability to keep creating new synapses up until we die. Neuroplasticity is powerful, learn how your brain works and you’ll find you can sculpt and cultivate your life with greater clarity.
The way you work and the way you think is unique to you. It is essential to understand how you are seeking to build your brain. Just like a home or a skyscraper, a frame has to be built first to sustain the structure itself.
In this article, I will share with you the first of three frameworks that I have researched in connection with negativity.
Framework #1: I am a culmination of failures, both socially and personally. It is inevitable that I will fail.
This framework is designed to harbor and horde negativity. You gather evidence against yourself and then your white-knuckle grip kills any other opportunity and naturally, negativity becomes your identity. This occurs when the negative evidence piles up against you and there is no way to see through or around it. You feel icky, self-loathing, and you find you hate yourself in every possible way.
There are five red flags associated with this framework, watch out for them because they’ll take your emotions and mental state down fast!
**Note: for each Red Flag there are steps or a process you can take to support yourself in overcoming each one.**
Red flag #1: “My past is representative of my future”
The evidence is overwhelming. You know that you are a mistake, a failure, a fraud. You may ask yourself, "Who am I to be brilliant? I'm barely making it," right?
Years or even decades of past mistakes, failures, and off behaviors pierce your confidence and send you spiraling. You may even be so deeply entrenched that you self-sabotage long before the assignment is due or the deadline approaches because you already know you don’t have what it takes.
What You CAN DO, Action Steps:
Give yourself permission to see your failures as experience. I would like for you to remember that we all fail. Staying defeated leads to giving up which makes your choice permanent.
Choose to get back up and try again, it is completely normal to not have life down the first time around.
Speak kindly to yourself, seek to give yourself encouragement you would your best friend.
Forgive yourself and let go of the past, it does not own you. Give it to Jesus Christ, let it go.
A little reminder, The difference between successful people and the unachieving is how long they allow themselves to sit with defeat. Shift your mindset to a growth mindset and remember that life is happening for you, not to you. “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes,” Oscar Wilde.
Red Flag #2: “I care what these people think of me”
When you invest and even put your worth in what other people think, sooner or later you will find yourself in the bottom of a pit surrounded by should have, could have, would have kind’s of regrets. There is really no one who holds your best interest in the same way you can for yourself.
In the movie Legally Blonde, Reece Witherspoon says something that shifts the entire tone of the movie from getting her ex-boyfriend back to living true to who she really is.. She says, “I’ll show you how valuable El Woods can be”. She cares who she is, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says and that theme takes flight throughout the rest of the film.
What can I do today to shift away from caring about what others think of me?
#1: You are your greatest advocate.
Your health, happiness, and life will thank you for choosing to represent yourself well, no matter where you go.
Choose to stand up for yourself. No one else is going to know exactly what you need or the power of you the way that you do. Choose to fortify it and respectfully decline anything that seeks to tear your personal peace and presence a part.
#2: Think for yourself.
Your thoughts have power. Decide for yourself what you believe and how you are going to live. Decide today how you seek to build connections, how you will respond to conflict, and how you will seek the good and the beautiful in your life. Then give yourself room to continue to strive everyday for that girl.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, but God. Thinking about what someone may or may not be thinking about you is a waste of energy. Give yourself an energy boost by not worrying until the conversation occurs.
(I wrote an article sharing a story sharing the importance of this concept, here)
#3 Stand by your standards and seek to do good and be good.
If someone mocks you for doing good or standing by your own principles, let them mock. You know where you desire to stand and how you want to live.
Deviation from what you know to be true will only create a division and a feeling of hypocrisy in you.
Seek the good. What do you find to be good? Seek more of it. For me everything good comes from God. The moment that I made God my foundation and inner compass was the moment I found peace in the hard times, a path through the crazy, and the support through the loneliness.
#4 Break cycles, choose to be someone who values life and kindness
Marcus Aurelius said “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” Break cycles from your past and seek to forage new roads and experience even more than what you had originally thought possible for your life.
Take ownership of your life and don’t wait for an apology from those who have hurt you.
Mend the deep hurt and continue forward, may we be like Elizabeth Smart’s mother, whom after getting Elizabeth back from being abducted said to Elizabeth, “Don't you let him! There is no way he deserves that. Not one more second of your life. You keep every second for yourself. You keep them and be happy. God will take care of the rest,” (Elizabeth Smart, My story).
Check out The Art of Womanliness podcast episode of “How to Both Heal and Defend, especially when you’re down” for more on mending the deep hurt in your life..
#5 Give yourself permission:
It is miraculous what giving permission to yourself can do – wondrous, if you must know. Wondrous.
You will find that once you belong within yourself, you don’t need to belong to anyone. And then in that frame of mind you will naturally belong everywhere because it doesn’t matter where you go, you belong to yourself and to your creator who made you. Living true to yourself is the greatest gift anyone can give themselves.
Maya Angelou says it best, “You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great".
Brene Brown did an entire book on this quote, if you are interested in reading it, called “Braving the Wilderness”: The quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone” Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.
Have you ever asked yourself, “why do I care about what other people think?”
Red Flag #3 “I can’t” “it’s too late” “I am not enough”
I ask myself, where does this drive come from to be enough? What if you know your worth then you realize that there is more than you ever thought possible awaiting you to realize it.
It is never too late, it is never too deep, you are never too far gone that you cannot be supported, connected, and loved. Trust this, because there is something that will always cut through the noise and cut through the darkness and that is light.
Find your own worth by taking time to sit with your thoughts and taking ownership of what you bring into your life on a daily and, even, hourly basis.
Choose to value your life by finding joy and gratitude in the little things.
Red Flag #4 “I am too unhappy to make anyone else happy”
Decide today to find happiness for yourself. Making other people happy is not your responsibility.
Choose to build your framework on what sparks joy and also what can help to build those around you.
Your development is best forged in your personal understanding of your worth and then in the service and support of others. Know your boundaries and limits, encourage yourself to not make excuses for yourself yet to thank yourself that with limits you know where to put your time, energy, and talents. I encourage you to help and support your friend, your neighbor, and your co-workers to do the same.
Choose to fortify yourself through daily practices that renew and support your life, love, and passion for life.
Choose to build others through the way you speak with them, the little acts of kindness you give by remembering them, including them, and supporting them where they are at.
Give yourself grace, you are not able to impact everyone, learn to give your best and then ask God to make all the difference in your life and those whom you will come in contact with today.
Red Flag #5 “It will never ever get better, it will never ever get worse”
There are some who live in the neutral zone. Meaning, the autopilot button is always pushed and just going through life, gauging their day off of the coming and goings of what they assume to be the mundane-everyday-what’s-the-point life.
Wake up! Your time is precious. Your existence isn’t mundane. You are uniquely designed and you have a personality that is all your own. Own it. And choose to bring your dreams and desires forward. Only you can start moving your life forward. Only you can bring the best into your life. (More on this topic here)
Here are some questions to ponder: Who is setting the standard for your life? What do you do just by default– you’ve always done, therefore you always will do it? What is one thing you want to shift today that if you do that one thing, will ripple out to naturally change other things?
Choose to make your life intentional. Breathe life into different aspects of your mundane life. Decide to seek what brings you joy.
Discover what motivates you and what you would give your life for, and then make everyday count.
There is beauty in the detail, seek to stop and smell the flowers, to really taste the cream in your morning hot beverage, or to just take a couple minutes to find that small detail that you know was orchestrated just for you.
Which one of these 5 Red flags do you do the most? Is there an action step you can take today to help mitigate and shift your thoughts? Share in the comments below.