It’s much easier to tell someone else to be optimistic when facing hard times than it is to apply the same philosophy to your own life. When things go wrong, all you want to do is put on sweatpants and marathon an entire season of FRIENDS on Netflix to drown out your deepest sorrows.
Negative thoughts creep into our minds whether things have hit absolute rock bottom or you’re just having a rough day. Regardless, you don’t have to let your dreary circumstances interfere with the way you think about your future.
Here are five common negative thoughts we often internalize, and how to turn them into more positive ones.
When trying to combat pessimistic thinking, the worst thing you can do is constantly compare yourself to someone else. In life, there will always be someone who’s just a little bit better at the thing you’re best at—if that’s the way you look at it, anyway.
You don’t need to be “as good as” someone else. All you need to do is be the best you can be. You might be really good at fixing cars. It’s tough not to feel discouraged when someone else comes along and proves they’re better at fixing cars than you are.
Don’t worry about them. Just keep doing the thing you’re best at, and let that carry you through your disappointment.
Gain Confidence From Your Failure
Of course you will, with that attitude! In the moment, failure never feels good. It doesn’t feel good when you’ve tried as hard as you can, to no avail, and it doesn’t feel good when you know you could have done better. Everyone cringes even at the thought of failure, even if they’d never admit it.
Eventually, the initial sting will wear off. Every failure is a learning experience, if you practice how to frame it that way in your mind. Sure, you might have failed this time, and you might fail again. That’s how we grow. If we never tripped and fell, we’d never learn how to get back up and keep chasing our ambitions.
Start And End Your Day Feeling Good
This morning you found out someone else got the job you wanted, someone who, on the surface, seems less qualified than you are. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and your job search feels like it’s about to reach the end of the line. You can’t help but wonder if it’s you, if there’s something you’re not doing that you should be.
If you’ve tried and tried, and it just isn’t working out, it might not be your fault. As humans, we have to constantly share our world with others. If things don’t go the way you want, the universe is just lining up someone else’s needs at the moment.
Your time will come. In the meantime, focus on the things you know you’re doing right. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a compliment for even the smallest accomplishments.
Overcome Fear of Failure
Stress is a major source of many of our negative thoughts. On days you have a lot going on, and everything has started to fall apart around you, you’ll certainly be tempted to convince yourself you can’t handle it and walk away.
Maybe you can’t do this … all at once. You can, however, take things one task at a time, and take your time, too. When the doubts start to roll in, pick out a smaller project, such as answering a few emails, and focus on that for a while.
Give your mind time to strategize and prioritize. When you’re ready, move on to something bigger, and tell yourself, “I will do this!”
You’ve been working really hard lately, and though you’ve learned to put forth your best effort even when no one’s watching, it’s still frustrating when your co-worker steps up and takes all the credit for the project you helped finish.
Was it really all for nothing, though? Of course not. Even though it might feel like you wasted all your time, think of what you’ve accomplished even without being recognized for it. You proved that you can carry a big project through to the end without giving up.
Your co-worker may never learn that lesson, but you have, and that isn’t something everyone can say they’ve taught themselves.
Never forget that, right now, it might seem like you’re not good enough, that you’re just not getting it right, that you never will. Don’t give up just yet. Turn those negative thoughts around, and you’re already one step closer to success.