When it comes to self improvement, we often thing about what we have to gain. Maybe it’s a skill we want to learn or a friendship we want to make. We sometimes forget about letting go. The thought of losing something is often coupled with the idea that the experience is bad, but it doesn’t have to be. Learning how to let go of negativity is one instance where losing something means you have more to gain.
Where do negative thoughts even come from?
Negativity can come from internal or external sources; it can be in the form of our own thoughts or even another person. Its impact also varies. Sometimes the negativity can last for a few moments, like when dealing with someone who clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Other times negativity can manifest and linger for days, weeks, or even years due to an unresolved issue or insecurity.
While there is no definite way to completely eradicate negativity from our lives or a fool-proof way to prevent it from entering our lives, there are ways we can cope and be at peace with our minds.
So how can I start to let go of negativity?
Of course, it’s easier said than done, but there is hope in knowing that it is in fact possible. Different things work for different people, and it might take some time to figure out what works best for you. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. In fact, I recommend learning to let go of negativity one step at a time.
1. Learn to accept and work with what you have.
By deciding that something you can’t change is a hindrance, you plant a seed of negativity that can easily grow into self-doubt and hatred. Learn to adapt and work around things you can’t change, and grow in the areas you can. Besides, every part of you, good and bad, makes you unique.
2. Do not limit yourself to other people’s standards.
Society has a way of deciding what is “normal” for us, but we don’t need to adhere to those standards for life. For example, while most commercial models are 5’6″-5’11”, Tyra Banks broke that standard with cycle 13 of “America’s Next Top Model” with a season of contestants who were 5’7″ and shorter. Predetermined standards set by society or industries are just the guidelines. However, people tend to forget that someone had to create the norm; that someone can be anyone.
3. Stop torturing yourself with social media.
Social media is a powerful tool. It allows you to connect with someone you haven’t seen in years, even if you aren’t the same country. However, it also gives you the opportunity to check up on your ex or someone you are not particularly fond of. Remember, people usually only post highlights of their lives online. Build good social media habits by limiting yourself and maybe even doing a digital detox every once and a while.
4. Don’t let something negative justify an excuse.
There are times when people tend to use something negative as an excuse to avoid something completely. Usually it’s something along the lines of “I suck at that, so I shouldn’t try it.” Try changing your mindset and approach things differently. Instead of, “I’m bad at this, so why should I even bother?” try, “I’m not good at this, but how can I be better?”
5. Learn to say no.
Sometimes we feel obligated to do things for different reasons. Maybe it’s a favor for a long time friend or a request from a family member. I know how hard it can be to say no to someone close to you, especially if you’re the type of person to lend a hand in a heartbeat. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to say yes to every single thing that comes your way. It’s okay to say no and take a step back if you’re uncomfortable with something or just plain buried in things to do.
6. Truly let go of the past.
First things first: letting go of the past does not mean forgetting about it completely. To truly let go of the past, you need to resolve whatever is keeping your mind in the past to begin with. Sometimes that means accepting that what is done is done. You can’t change the past, but you can change how it impacts you.
7. Remember that it’s okay to not be okay.
Whether it’s asking a family member to help you sort out your thoughts or reaching out to a therapist, remember that asking for help is never a sign of weakness. In fact, you are stronger than you think for being able to admit that you need help and asking for it. Sometimes negativity can be so deeply rooted that you need someone to help you untangle the thoughts inside your head, and that’s okay. You are still strong. You are still worth it.