So much of our lives are spent in internal dialogue.
We talk to ourselves about everything from what to eat to how to handle a massive dilemma. We choose how to perceive things and tend to return to our go-to ways of thinking over and over.
At first glance, a positive perspective on everything may seem like the way to go. The problem is that it doesn’t last in the real world because everything is not, in reality, positive. Most people wind up back in the gutter after a few minutes of positive thinking. For example, if I have a problem at work and choose to think 100% positively I may think, “It’ll get better if I just hang in there”. But that’s not necessarily true. And it’s not going to help me to get a new job or propose a solution. I may miss opportunities while I’m waiting around.
A negative perspective is just as useless. Choosing to think negatively would sound like this: “This job is the worst. It should be better.” or “I should have never taken this job.” This just causes anger and paralyzes you.
Use neutral thoughts so you can find actual solutions.
The “I want and I can” approach is to replace negative thoughts by thinking about what you want and what you CAN do. An example may sound like: I want to be happy at work and I can… look for a new job, talk to my boss, change my schedule, change my routine, take on new responsibilities, let go of some responsibilities, etc. The list goes on and on.
Go with neutral thinking. Use an “I want____” and “I can____” thought to replace positive or negative thinking with action.
Neutralizing thoughts is the act of thinking about what you want and what you can do to try to get it.
It’s brainstorming about what you can do instead of focussing on what others should have or should be doing.
When I recently left a ream of paper (already purchased) behind in a store, I was thinking, “I shouldn’t have been so careless”, “My father shouldn’t have walked away from the baby because it made me put my stuff down”. These thoughts place a lot of unnecessary blame on myself and others. If you’re blaming, you’re not solving. The quicker you can neutralize your thoughts and focus on what small steps you can take, the quicker you can begin to solve your problem.
The minute I was able to neutralize my thoughts I realized: I want to get my paper back and I can call back and ask for a manager to ask if he or she has any suggestions. What happened? As soon as I called, the manager offered to replace the item. It’s a small example, but it illustrates the idea well.
Next time you begin to think negatively, choose to turn your thoughts to what you want and what you can do.