Today’s topic is indeed one that I must share in FULL transparency. It is entitled “Overcoming Negative Thinking” because it is process that I am continuing to pursue day by day. Someone may ask, “Why are you writing about something that you’re still working on?” Honestly, I feel as we navigate life, there will always be something to overcome. I am choosing to speak out about negative thinking in hopes that it will help people realize that the impact it has on our lives is REAL. Are you ready to take another journey with me? Let’s go!!!
You ever get excited about an idea or goal, try to accomplish it, but you didn’t get the results you hoped for? Failure and setbacks have always been difficult for me to accept. Whether it was a failed opportunity, friendship, relationship, weight goals, or an attempt at what God was telling me to do; it would impact me negatively. I would constantly relive the situation over and over in my head as if I was trying to find an alternate ending. The overthinking gave me migraines and emotional fatigue. I would pick myself apart bit by bit. What could I have done better? Am I smart enough? Is it because I’m Black? Is it my height or weight? Why me? The more I bombarded my mind with questions, the more negative thinking began to consume me. What I discovered while writing this was those questions did not initially come from me. They came from the times people told me I was “too this or too that” to do it. At that time, I was not strong enough in my faith to speak the Word of God, so I accepted what they said as truth. Yes, I allowed myself to shrink. What I didn’t realize, until writing this post, is I had internalized that negative thinking; allowing it to take up residency in my mind. So, whenever I failed at something, I echoed the thoughts of others rather than those of God (I’ll talk more about this later).
I also want to elaborate on how insecurities trigger negative thinking. Prior to relocating, I found myself in a spiritual desert place back home. It had nothing to do with home, but everything to do with my lack of faith. I wouldn’t be fully transparent with you if I didn’t talk about this. In many ways, I was perceived as a leader or people would come to me for the answer. However, in that season of my life, I had NOTHING! Now, I know that I was struggling with Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is the belief that you are incompetent or inadequate, thus you have a growing fear of being exposed as a fraud. The thing is, you are likely overqualified and have more than enough to justify that, but negative thinking tells you otherwise. So, I figured if I stayed busy, no one would notice. Now I’m going to be real REAL about something. I was still serving in church, helping and encouraging others, putting on my nice clothes, and had my hair and makeup “slaaayyyyeeeddd” to perfection; still going about my merry way all while feeling like a complete failure at life. Negative thinking had me investing in everyone else but myself. I knew I loved God and God loved me, but often wondered what He wanted with someone like me? I know this may come as a shock to some, but I hope you are objective enough to look beyond perceptions and understand that negative thinking can slip up on anyone.
So, what made me decide to change the trajectory of my thinking? Unfortunately, paying out over $1200 in medical bills for a panic attack. Yes, negative thinking, amongst other things, contributed to my panic attack. How? Negative thinking triggers anxiety about the future, depressive thoughts about your past, and worry about your present. High-functioning anxiety affects many of us who push our minds and bodies to unhealthy limits. You see each time my mind went into overdrive with negative thinking, it stirred up negative emotions that caused my heart rate to increase. It became difficult for me safely come down from that adrenaline high triggered by the panic attack. Thanks be to God that I didn’t develop health issues related to my heart.
I know some people will understand what I’m talking about and others won’t. It is hard for people to grasp ahold of issues that impact the lives of others when they are unseen. For those who get it and want to find their way out of negative thinking habits, I want to share some encouraging reminders with you:
- Negative thinking is a seed that is often planted by something said or done to you. Each time you believe that thought, you water it. Take the time and give yourself the space to dig it up at the root. IT WILL NOT CONTROL HOW YOU THINK ANYMORE!
- Failing at something does not mean you are a failure. Identify want needs to be reworked, added, or taken away. Most importantly, TRY AGAIN!!!
- When you find yourself thinking negatively, take a moment to step back from the situation. Ask yourself, “Why did the thought come into my mind?” Once you discover the trigger of the thought, SEIZE AND DISABLE IT IMMEDIATELY! If you need to take a break, pray, cry, sing, shout, read your Bible, listen to that song that gives you life, etc. Be intentional with creating a healthy thinking space.
- Set a goal, whether big or small, you would like to accomplish each day. Make sure they are realistic and within your reach.
- Consider therapy. I know some people have a negative view of therapy, but it is helpful to speak with someone who doesn’t know you that can give insight on your situation. They can sometimes see things you can’t.
- Re-evaluate relationships. Ask yourself, “Does anyone close to me contribute to my negative thinking?” Consider changes, if any, you need to make.
- Practice giving yourself grace. If you’ll notice, I always say things like “take the time”, “give yourself the space”, or “take a moment”. That is because it is necessary to. You are not in competition with anyone. Understand that negative thinking habits did not develop overnight so the journey to overcoming them will not happen overnight. It is a daily journey.
- Most importantly, see yourself the way God sees you. Psalm 139:14 (ERV) says, “I praise you because you made me in such a wonderful way”. Negative thinking is how the enemy robs God’s children of their peace of mind. Start now; get your peace back!
****HOMEWORK: Find an uplifting song that really speaks to you. Afterwards, make an affirmation list, which consists of positive sayings that you can say to yourself throughout the day.Cancel out every negative thought with a positive affirmation. ****
I hope that you have been blessed and inspired by this post. Remember, thoughts become words, words become action, and action determines where your journey takes you in life. As always, I am praying for you. Be sure to stay connected with me and let me know how you’re doing. You got this!!!