Don’t Focus on the Negative, See It in a New Light with Six Inspiring Steps
What do you notice when you look at a snapshot of your life right here, right now? Do you see the good all around you? Or do you find yourself focusing and obsessing over all negative, difficult things?
Abraham Hicks says that we’re living in a world of contrast, with both positive and negative things happening in our environment simultaneously. Abundance and joy are continuously woven into each frame, with frustrating, negative, and unpleasant things happening, too. So, if both are happening, why do we have the habit of focusing on all the things going wrong?
According to Jill Suttie, “We, humans, have a propensity to give more weight in our minds to things that go wrong than to things that go right—so much so that just one adverse event can hijack our minds in ways that can be detrimental to our work relationships, health, and happiness.”
Yikes! What can we do to refocus our attention? Is there another way to do reframe experiences? Let’s investigate some possibilities from the experts.
1. Consider the idea that many negative thoughts aren’t even true.
“Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes.” – A Course in Miracles.
Okay, I know, this one is a reach! But it’s worth thinking about, even for just a mind-stretching moment.
Consider the idea of the false, insecure, fearful (egoic) version of yourself and compare it to an authentic, empowered, loving version of your true self. How do these two versions of you perceive the world differently? Our true self doesn’t focus on ideas that are less-than-healthy. Our true selves are wise, kind, loving, abundant, and at peace.
So, where is this negativity coming from? Maybe A Course in Miracles is right. Persistent negative thoughts are nothing more than our ego’s response, trying to grab our attention for a reason. If you’re willing to see them this way, what can you do next?
Let’s take a closer look here:
2. Don’t focus on the negative. Instead, see these thoughts as opportunities to support and comfort yourself.
What are your negative thoughts trying to tell you? What do you need to learn about yourself?
Instead of focusing on the negative and feeling frustrated by them, consider seeing them as portals to healing your inner wounds. Envision seeing yourself as a loving caregiver, willing to work through the thoughts that distract you from an otherwise happy moment. How can you do that?
First, try reaching for self-compassion. Try offering the kindness to yourself that you would offer to a friend who is feeling upset at that moment. Nick Wignall offers these few steps:
- Start by simply listening to and being there for yourself.
- Acknowledge that how you feel is real, but withhold judgment about why you’re feeling that way. Just listen.
- Validate your feelings. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel the negative emotions you are feeling.
Listening to and validating yourself are acts of genuine self-love. And seeing yourself as worthy of your love and attention may help comfort those pain points. What are other ways to calm yourself?
Consider writing a letter to yourself. This offers a chance for your higher self to connect with the part of you that needs your guidance, kindness, and supportive words.
Also, placing your hand on your heart and sending loving energy to yourself is vital—Mother yourself. There is a part of you inside that is seeking your kindness.
3. Harness the immense power you have in directing your attention.
“Where you place your attention is where you put your energy. Once you fix your attention or your awareness or your mind on possibility, you place your energy there as well.” – Joe Dispenza
So, we do have more power than we think. We can decide where we are going to place our attention.
Becky Bailey of Conscious Discipline says, “Practice becoming more aware of where you are focusing your attention. When you find that you’re focused on judging or fault-finding, try shifting your attention to empathy, positive intent, and gratitude. See the positive, have faith that all is well, and actively calm yourself.”
This concept is fascinating and genuinely life-changing. Try envisioning yourself as an infinite space of pure consciousness with a commander inside directing where your attention is being placed. You are the commander and get to decide where you will land your gaze.
So, instead of locking in and becoming identified with a problem- try softening your gaze and seeing your world through loving eyes. When you’re feeling stuck and focused on the negative, remind yourself that you can choose to place your attention on something else. You are the commander of what you see.
4. Don’t focus on the negative. Remember that what you focus on grows.
“Whatever you put your attention on becomes energized. Whatever you take your attention away from dwindles” — Deepak Chopra.
So in a day, what are you focusing on? Are you getting lost in negative thinking, or are you mindfully opening your view to include things going well into your mind?
Try to fill your awareness with various things that brighten your mood. Hang art that inspires you every day. Listen to music that lifts your mood. Choose to fill your mind and awareness with thoughts that mindfully enhance your wellbeing.
Developing a positive mindset is vital. Here are six characteristics and traits that comprise a healthy, positive mindset according to Positive Psychology:
- Optimism: a willingness to make an effort and take a chance instead of assuming your efforts won’t pay off.
- Acceptance: acknowledging that things don’t always turn out how you want them to, but learning from your mistakes.
- Resilience: bouncing back from adversity, disappointment, and failure instead of giving up.
- Gratitude: actively, continuously appreciating the good things in your life.
- Consciousness/Mindfulness: dedicating the mind to conscious awareness and enhancing focus.
- Integrity: the trait of being honorable, righteous, and straightforward instead of deceitful and self-serving.
5. Consider positively reframing your thoughts.
According to the stress and development lab at Harvard University, “Positive reframing involves thinking about a negative or challenging situation in a more positive way. This could involve thinking about a benefit or upside to a negative situation that you had not considered. Alternatively, it can involve identifying a lesson to be learned from a difficult situation.”
Some examples of positive reframing may include:
- Maybe this situation is here to help me grow. I’m open to learning the lesson I need to learn.
- This offers an opportunity for me to step more fully into my power. I recognize it for what it is.
- I’m willing to see this situation differently.
Reframing thoughts is one tool that I’m trying to practice regularly. When I’m slipping into a negative fear spiral about something, I’m trying to pause and think, “How can I see this in a new way? What is this situation forcing me to see about myself that I need to learn?”
If I’m able to stay curious long enough, the answer inevitably comes along, and I can see things differently.
6. Remember that what you see is your reality.
“Focus your attention on the Now, and tell me what problem you have at this moment.” – Eckhart Tolle.
When I first saw this quote, it completely stopped me in my tracks because it is so clear and straightforward. It made me realize that my “problems” are just thoughts I’m choosing to focus on. They aren’t even real problems at all.
Why do we all see everything so differently? How do you see the world?
Minute to minute, whatever you see and recognize is what you’re experiencing.
Instead of fixating on everything going wrong, try not focusing on the negative. Consider seeing your challenges and pain points through loving lenses and allowing your gaze to move toward the abundance, blessings, and joy in your life right now. And then see what happens.
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