“You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~Marcus Aurelius
Everytime I try to get up after a low point, negative thoughts keep me from getting back up.
Whether it’s the fear of actually being happy only to be sad once again or the self-doubt and self-judgment that pop up when things are going well and I’m healthy, negative thoughts seem to win every single time.
One week ago, I struggled with constant thoughts of not being enough. This was despite my best efforts to balance my writing passion, mental and physical health, school work, chores and housework.
This only increased my anxiety and made me feel worse.
Toward the end of that battle, I experienced a decline in my physical health, as I lacked movement, overslept, and didn’t eat much.
It was time to start exercising at home. Yet again, during a set of lunges, I experienced negative thoughts about how it didn’t matter if I exercised because I’d only end up spiraling back into the same rabbit hole I just came out of, and I felt a crippling need to drop down on my knees and have a breakdown.
A few seconds before I was about to drop down, the statement “your inner strength is more powerful than your thoughts” It came to me.
After a few moments, I stopped, placed my hand next to the table for support and then took a deep, long breath.
This statement resonated with me.
This was something that I repeatedly repeated to myself. I took it to my notebook.
I have read the book over and again.
That statement came from an awareness I had of my thoughts. This awareness awakened and revived part of me.
Often, we become so deeply lost in what’s passed or what’s to come, and that which we can’t control, that we’re no longer conscious or aware of the present moment. We end up being trapped by negative thoughts which only makes our anxiety and stress worse.
Even if for a moment all is good, and we’re conscious of the present, it isn’t long before we spiral into negative thoughts that provoke doubts and fears about the good that is.
My nieces learned math problems a few months back. Their game was to ask each other how they could solve the math equations. Suddenly, they said, “Massi,” which means “aunt” in Punjabi, “what do you think is the answer!?”
It was a reddish color. It was like my ears and cheeks were exploding. It was embarrassing and scary. I was embarrassed and scared.
High school math was a difficult subject for me. I failed every one of my courses. To avoid taking math courses in community college and university, I found a loophole to bypass it as a liberal arts major, only to get a degree to work in a field I’d end up despising.
Now, years later, I’m enrolled in a required math class to pursue a degree in botany. Why? Because I didn’t want my negative thoughts, which ignited fears about not being able to comprehend or pass a math class, to prevent me from learning something I enjoy, plant science.
It’s important to realize that negative thoughts aren’t always true. They’re often a made-up story formed by doubts, fears, and anxieties. These stories can distract us from the reality of life and limit our potential to achieve and fulfill all that we want.
After life has brought something unexpected onto your path, negativity is the first thing that comes to mind. Our egoic-state is what causes them. It tries to keep us comfortable with changes or new things. These negative thoughts can also reduce the possibilities and opportunities that life offers us and eventually numb our ability to grow and learn.
The universe will provide us with all the support we need to overcome our negativities and awaken to our true potential.
Through many painfully tough times—and I mean painful to the point where I’d find myself drowning in negative thoughts in a dark closet for hours—I’ve found that there is always a powerful awareness behind my negative thoughts. Sometimes, it’s loud and clear, and other times, subtle and unclear, but it’s always there to pull me away from those negative thoughts and to get up, show up, and not give up.
I know it’s not easy to pull yourself away from the negative thoughts that can take you into a dark place, but it’s always possible.
These are the two things that have helped me get through the most difficult times. They help me to see the truth behind my thoughts, and restore my inner strength.
1. When I am feeling unwell, I notice how it feels and I quickly enter nature.
Negative thoughts can cause anxiety and stress in the body. We may feel tightness or shortness of breath, while other times, we experience strong feelings such as embarrassment or self-doubt.
Once I realize that I’m not in tune with my inner self and feel off in any kind of way, I quickly step outside before it worsens.
Whether it’s sitting in the backyard or taking a walk around the block, it only takes a few moments before my stress and anxiety reduce and I begin to feel calm and still.
This space allows me the ability to recognize and release any negative thoughts. I can then allow them to go away rather than dwell on them and believe them.
It is a great way to be present in nature.
Being with the natural world helps us to be more aware and strengthens our spirit.
2. Doing something I enjoy brings me joy.
As I’ve mentioned, we often think negative thoughts about what was or what will be. I often find myself lost in thoughts about what could be done or what may happen next. This leads to self-doubt, self-judgment and ultimately self-destructive behavior.
It’s hard to motivate yourself to do something that makes you happy when you’re pinned against a wall by negative thoughts. However, remember, it’s not impossible.
When I’m doubting or judging myself, I do one thing that I know makes me happy, just one, however big or small. Sometimes, it’s making a new easy recipe, and other times, it’s writing a sentence or two in my journal.
You can stop worrying and focus your attention elsewhere. This will help you to be more present and aware. You also tap into your “feel good” feelings by doing something for yourself, which also makes you feel resilient and stimulates your inner strength.
Time and time again, I’ve found myself trying to battle off negative thoughts for good. They always return for more. However, I can say that though I’ve had times where I was lost in negative thoughts for weeks, my awareness and inner strength have always brought me back home to my heart.
Pay attention to the loud or subtle nudges your awareness gives you when you’re going through challenging times. Your awareness and inner strength are stronger than any negative thoughts you may have, and they can help you recognize them for what they—Just thoughts—so you can let them go and do the things you want to do.
Jasmine Randhawa is a writer, a creative, an author of a self-published children’s picture book, and a former personal injury law paralegal. She has more than seven years experience as a researcher, writer, and counselor to people who have suffered stress, anxiety and trauma. Her current work focuses on embracing pain and suffering and allowing others to enjoy the sweet of life. See more at: https://linktr.ee/Jasminekaurtoday
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Tiny Buddha’s first post, Overcoming Negative Thoughts: Just a Little Awareness can Go a LONG Way appeared on Tiny Buddha.