Humans have more than 10,000 thoughts per day, in which, unfortunately, most are negative. However, when we dwell in negativity, stress increases, happiness suffers and we lose momentum to persevere.
For example, take negative thoughts around a job interview, where most interviewees’ thoughts lean towards… I bombed today’s job interview, I’ll be unemployed forever, I should have listened more, spoke more, prepared more, how am I ever going to get hired? The script goes on and on.
Yet, we forget that there are ways to overcome these thoughts, especially right when the thought itself creeps in. How? Three key actions, realization, awareness and challenge.
Monitor the thought. When a negative thought arises, notice if this sounds familiar. Is this something you hear yourself say over and over? Negative thinking is a habit so it’s useful to notice our thought patterns.
Don’t suppress the thought or judge yourself for having it. You won’t alleviate the negative thought by telling yourself I have to stop thinking about the job interview. Instead, just bring awareness to what’s happening in your mind. Say to yourself, I’m obsessing about this job interview and I’m thinking negative thoughts.
Question the runaway thought cycle by asking yourself, was it actually that bad or is my memory clouded by fear and anxiety? Does the outcome of a single job interview really determine my future? Am I serving myself by dwelling on these negative thoughts?
When we separate from a negative thought, challenge and recognize it, we remove its power. Through practice, effort and perseverance we can reach for the light switch in the dark room of negativity and regain our sense of sight.