Q: How can I shift gears when I find myself in a negative thought pattern?
The fastest way to intercept a negative attitude about yourself or about anyone or anything is to identify it and then without any self-judgment immediately think about things your are grateful for. Authentic feelings of gratitude will flood your body with the uplifting biochemistry of wellbeing. Gratitude is the proven precursor to an open heart and positive state of being. Start bringing to mind, saying aloud, or writing down a list of anything and everything in your life for which you are grateful. It can simply be that you are breathing, that the sun is shining, that you have a dog, eyesight or a great friend. Or it can be that you can read, that there is food in your fridge and you have a bed to sleep in. It can be little things or bigger things. Make your list as long as possible and for as long as it takes you to reach the point when you are feeling gratitude and no longer going through the motions.
All of a sudden you will feel your heart open as you realize there is so much to be grateful for in your life. Maybe even a tear of appreciation comes to the corners of your eyes. You are back in a good place with yourself. This is not "woo woo," it is science.
Researchers also recommend that to develop a more consistent and permanent state of living from gratitude, which also attracts more positive people and events into your experience, all you need is to keep a notebook and write down five things for which you are grateful every morning when you wake up and do the same thing right before bed. This habit will change your life.
Since both positive and negative energies are contagious, you can also intercept, rather than absorb, the negativity of others. Let's say you are in a situation where the energy is negative and draining or the energy is just not working for you. Be proactive and change it for yourself. You can always do the gratitude technique, and here are some additional suggestions:
For example, you're in a meeting and feel your attitude/energy going down the tubes. Politely leave and go to the restroom to regroup, or step outside for a breath of fresh air and then return. If you cannot leave, go somewhere else in your mind. Out to dinner with friends and the conversation is going downhill? Change the topic or crack a joke to break up negativity and upgrade the energy. Feeling tired or not feeling centered and caller ID shows it’s someone who can be draining? Don’t answer the phone. If you are on the phone and feeling exhausted by the person on the other end, kindly end the conversation.
Lastly, if your negative attitude is more than temporary or circumstantial, another proactive step is to seek professional help. You always have choices putting you in charge of your life rather than being a victim.