We all have them. The nasty little voices that whisper in our ear and come up with anything they can think of to tear us down. You’ll hear it when you’re exercising, when you’re at work or when you’re trying a new hobby. I call mine Bitchy Jen, because she’s still a part of me, even if she represents all the negative thoughts I try to ignore.
If you’re like me, you’re probably looking for a way to steal the script from your version of Bitchy Jen. Here are the best ways to remove negative thoughts from your life.
Recognize Negative Thoughts for What They Are
The first thing you need to do is to recognize negative thoughts for what they are. This isn’t always easy. They’re sneaky, those thoughts — they insinuate themselves into your subconscious and make you think you’re the one creating them.
When you start feeling these negative thoughts creep in, look at them objectively. Are you really thinking them, or is your nasty little voice creating them for you? Once you can recognize them, it’s easier to remove them from your life.
Reframe It as Something Positive
For this step, I’m going to introduce you to the concept of cognitive reframing. Essentially, instead of reacting by instinct to something that happens to you, you take control of your mind and reframe things to change your response. Although you never know what will take place and you can’t stop those negative thoughts, you have power over your reactions.
When a negative thought creeps into your mind, take a moment to reframe it as something positive.
If you’re working out and your nasty voice pipes up with “why bother, you’ll always be fat!” take that thought and reframe it. “I’m working toward my goals and the process is slow, but I’ll reach them if I keep it up.”
Turn “I’m not good at anything” into “I just need more practice and I’ll get better.”
Reframing your negative thoughts into something positive helps you to eliminate that negativity from your life. Eventually, you’ll turn cognitive reframing into a habit, and those bad feelings won’t even have a chance to take hold in your mind. You’ll automatically change them into something positive.
Keep Things Organized
If your home or workspace is cluttered, it can make it hard to maintain a positive outlook. Clutter increases your stress, making you more likely to eat poorly and spiral into those negative thoughts in your head. A messy desk at work can even keep you from getting promoted, which feeds into that internal negativity.
If you find yourself spiraling into negativity, take a few minutes to clean up some of the clutter in your life. Organize your desk or your workspace. Hell, drive to the store and treat yourself to some cute, color-coordinated pencil cups and paper holders to make your space more organized. You’ll be astonished how much better you feel afterward.
That’s the first thing I do in the morning. My desk can turn into a giant mess by the end of the workday, so before I start the next day, I take a few minutes to tame the clutter-beast. In doing so, I improve my outlook for the day.
Put the Bitch in a Box
If none of these work or your inner voice is too loud, the next step is to, quite literally, put the bitch-voice in a box. Put a muzzle on it. Throw it into a flaming pit. Toss it into the ocean and let the waves wash it away. Do whatever you need to do to get your nasty inner voice to shut the hell up. When Bitchy Jen rears her ugly head, I have a corner of my mind that, through visualization, I’ve turned into a dark, dank prison cell. If she starts talking shit, I toss her there.
You don’t have to create a prison cell. You can just put a muzzle on her and laugh maniacally as she tries to tear you down. It can be pretty satisfying, and laughter is always the best medicine.
Focus on Loving Yourself
We love the people around us, but very few of us actually know how to love ourselves. We spend our lives making comparisons to everyone around us or the actors on television or fictional characters in books, and when we do that, we’re never enough. Theodore Roosevelt said it best — “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you’re constantly comparing yourself to those around you, you aren’t loving yourself. You’re just feeding into those negative thoughts.
Instead, focus on loving yourself first. Take care of yourself, marvel at your body and the amazing things it can do — even if you’re not quite sure where you want to be yet. Don’t work out because you hate the way you look. Do it because you love your body and want it to be stronger. Celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small, and look for reasons to feel joy rather than sorrow.
Remember That You Are Amazing
No matter what happens, always remember you’re amazing — no matter what your inner voice tells you. Learning how to reframe your negative thoughts into positive ones can change your entire outlook on life and help you become a happier and healthier person.