We've all heard that phrase, change your thoughts, change your world...but what does it mean in reality?
If you have a thought about something, it builds your perception around that thing. Children are actually pretty great at this. If a child is not accustomed to eating veggies, they don't typically enjoy them. Let's say that one night for dinner, a parent offers their no-veggie child some broccoli. After some coaxing, the child tries it, and immediately spits it out. The next night, the parent offers the child green beans. What does the child see? That it's different food than what they know they like, it's green, it smells like veggies and so on. Thier perception is that veggies are gross, they tell themselves that veggies are gross, and make no room to give this new food a chance.
We do this all the time, and what's worse, we do this with ourselves. We have built up perceptions of who we are. Some people have a positive association of themselves. Other people are not so lucky. They develop negative associations with who they are from very young, and as they get older, they find validation for who they think they are in other experiences. Someone who struggles with feeling like they deserve a good life may find that they dislike their job, the people they work with, or their living situation. They might feel distant from their families, feel dissatisfied in their friendships and struggle to have healthy relationships. Their frustration and dissatisfaction bubbles to the surface in the form of complaining or venting about the negative things in their life. They may find validation in these experiences in attracting friends who are also negative, and developing friendships around "having someone to vent to". Before long, these negative patterns are normalized.
Developing negative self talk can happen in several different circumstances. It can be caused by depression, which has a genetic component. It can be caused by neglectful or abusive experiences in childhood. Or it can be that someone's personality is naturally more negative. Learning positive self-talk is so important but I want to make it clear that if there is a chronic depression or trauma underlying the issue, I urge you to seek professional help.
So how does one break the negative cycle?
1. Find the Positive
You might not be able to find the good in yourself just yet, but you can see the good in your life and the world around you. It can start small, such as noticing colors you find beautiful, noting acts of kindness and remembering good times.
2. Make Time for Things You Love
Uplift your mood by making more room for the things you enjoy. Draw, sing, run, play games, etc. Whatever brings you joy give yourself at least three hours a week of those activities. Make it part of your normal routine.
3. Love Yourself
Do things that are good for you. Love your body by eating healthy and exercising. Love your mind by learning new things and challenging yourself. Meditate, relax, have a go-to method of winding down. Developing proper boundaries and positive coping skills. Learn how to communicate effectively and to meet your own needs. Compliment yourself frequently, notice when you do a good job on a task, and work with affirmations.
I hope these things help you get started in living a more joyful life. Let me know in the comments any tips you may have about staying positive and learning how to uplift yourself.