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Le Sigh

I had every intent of blogging the heck out of this thing but sometimes I just cannot muster the energy and lately that is what has happened. Sometimes the mere act of taking one step after another is just too much. Depression is such a bitch, I am watching someone I love more than life itself suffer from it, watching it destroy them slowly… I wanted to leave a great legacy for my family and sadly the one I left is far from great.

I will be back, I will be positive, I will get over this funk, always do.

I will leave you with a great read by Marc and Angel Hack Life… I need to read this over and over.

3 Powerful Ways to Free Yourself From Negativity

“I know my negativity kills me, so why do I think like this?”
You wouldn’t believe how many emails Marc and I receive every day that contain a similar question. Thankfully, we have answers.

Over the past decade we have coached thousands of people who were struggling with various forms of self-inflicted negativity, and we’ve learned a lot by helping them get their thoughts straight.

Thinking ‘the worst,’ expecting failure and betrayal, seeing downsides where others don’t, even seeing positives as negatives – all convey a kind of emotional insurance policy. “If I expect the worst, then I won’t be disappointed when it happens.”

Can you relate in any way?

Another negative thinking trap that can mess with us is the ‘I told you so’ syndrome. For some people, it can feel more important to be proved right in their negative predictions than to have good things happen (and therefore be proved ‘wrong’).

Before I get too positive about negativity though, here’s a thought: The habit of thinking negatively doesn’t just predict how likely someone is to become depressed, but also predicts how likely they are to suffer all sorts of other illnesses later on in life too. I’m not suggesting that negative thoughts alone create illness, but they certainly don’t help.

In this email we’re going to look at what you can do to stop thinking negatively. But first, let’s examine a super-common mistake negative people tend to make:

Negative people are often proud to describe themselves as ‘realists.’ Of course, anyone who strongly holds a belief thinks they are being ‘realistic’ by holding it, whether it involves green men from Mars or honest politicians.

The ‘being more realistic’ proclamation is a favorite of cynics everywhere. And in a way they are right. But only because thinking negatively causes us not to try – or if we do try, to give up sooner – so the negativity itself influences results. Self-fulfilling predictions like this really do happen. Research has even found that in some cases what we believe about our health can have more bearing on how long we live than our actual health.

What makes all of this so scary is the fact that it means negative thoughts can plague us even when things seem to be going well. For instance, the thought “It’s too good to last!” quickly wrecks havoc on a positive situation.  Thus, my first tip has to do with how negative thinking distorts perception…

1.  Stop thinking in extremes.

Most of life isn’t black or white, completely this or that, all or nothing. But negative thinking tends to view bad stuff in the extreme. For example:

  • Rather than not doing as well as I’d like on my test, I’m going to “fail completely!”
  • Instead of my business venture taking a while to get going, it’s going to “crash and burn, leaving me forever ruined!”
  • Rather than just feeling a few nerves during my speech, I’m going to “die out there and they’re all going to hate me!”

All or nothing thinking misses out the subtle shades in life. It makes us see the future in terms of dramatic disasters, disappointments, and catastrophes. Sure, disasters occasionally happen, but – contrary to the shrill pronouncements from newsstands – most of life consists of shades of grey, between the extremes.

The first step to overcoming negative thinking isn’t to ‘just be positive’ all of a sudden, but to look for shades of grey. Say you’ve been worrying about a relationship. Rather than thinking: “It’s going to be a disaster, I just know it is” or even “It’s going to be perfect,” how about: “I expect there will be great moments, good moments, and not so good moments, like any relationship.”

2.   Stop over-generalizing the negative.

Ask yourself: “If something bad happens, do I over-generalize it? Do I view it as applying to everything and being permanent rather than compartmentalizing it to one place and time?”

For example, if someone turns you down for a date, do you spread the negativity beyond that person, time, and place by telling yourself: “Nothing ever works out for me, ever”? If you fail a test do you say to yourself, “Well, I failed that test; I’m not happy about it, but I’ll try harder next time”? Or do you over-generalize it by telling yourself you’re “not smart enough” or “incapable of learning”?

And this leads in perfectly to the next point…

3.   Stop minimizing the positive.

Negative thinking stops people from seeing the positive when it does happen. It’s as if there’s a special screen filtering out positives and only letting in stuff that confirms the ‘negative bias.’ Magnifying setbacks and minimizing successes leads to de-motivation and misery in the long run. Know this.

Get into the habit of seeing setbacks as temporary and specific rather than as permanent and pervasive. We all tend to find what we look for. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about a person, for instance, get into the habit of balancing it out with one positive thought about them: “He’s so insincere… Mind you, to be fair, he was helpful with that project… and he can be very funny…” The positive is there somewhere, but you have to look for it.

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