Are you a negative person? If you’re at the point where you’re seriously looking to shift to the positive, step one is to change your attitude and alter your perception about your current situation.
Since that may border on cliché, allow me to suggest a practical plan of action focused on three mental hacks that work. This will take some commitment and intent, but it’s what the most positive people have mastered.
1. Identify your negative feelings and what keeps you in the negative.
Our emotions and behaviors often reflect what we feel about the world around us. For example, if you’re a gossiper, ask yourself, “What does my behavior reveal to others about my character?”
If you’re like most people, you’ll probably gain some insight into how you are perceived when spreading gossip. Most people I know who ask themselves this find out that they are seeking attention. And with good self-awareness, they’ll soon realize that others perceive them as, well, pretty pathetic.
The next step is to determine what supports the attitude or behavior. It may be that your workplace is toxic or you’re hanging around with some bad apples.
Sticking with the theme of gossip, a willingness to actively participate in it and listen to it is the support system that keeps feeding the attitude, leading you to gossip again. When you’re consciously aware that listening to gossip leads you to gossip, you’ve got a pretty good start on your road to change.
2. Kill the negative self-talk by reframing.
Do you ever hear that voice inside your head tell you things like:
“I screwed up again.”
“I can’t do this. I was never able to do it. It’s not going to work now.”
“I am nothing compared to those people.”
Self-talk is normal but when it becomes negative and is used to reinforce an irrational thought or idea, that’s a problem.
So what’s the solution? A neat little positive psychology trick called reframing. You begin by consciously identifying the type of inner dialogue or language you use daily. We all have one. What’s yours?
Next, take a mental note, or journal about the negative words or phrases you use at the end of the day. For example: I can’t, I don’t know how, this is impossible, I always get this wrong, etc.
Now, really pay attention to the times when you use them again. What are the triggers? Are demands at work piling up? Are things at home not so peachy?
As you notice yourself saying something negative in your mind, you can stop your thought midstream by saying to yourself (or in your head), “Stop!” Saying this aloud will be more powerful, and having to say it aloud will make you more aware of how many times you are stopping negative thoughts and where.
Now, dig deep down inside yourself and rethink your assumptions. Are you assuming something is a negative event when it isn’t, necessarily? Stop, rethink, and see if you can come up with a neutral or positive replacement.
By reframing, you’re challenging your irrational ideas, thoughts, and generalizations–yes, and those voices that tell you you’re hopeless or always doing things wrong!
3. Stop ruminating in the past.
Smart and generally happy people experience greater success because they are good gatekeepers of what they allow into their minds, including unwanted thoughts from previous life events.
We’ve all experienced failure, pain and tragedy. But if you’re still obsessing today (or a week from now) over a bad decision or something that went terribly wrong, you’re choosing the wrong mental path.
Shark Tank mogul Barbara Corcoran has something to say about this. She says, “The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.”
Accept that failures and setbacks are part of the learning process of life. This is especially true for entrepreneurs. Heal and recover from those moments, learn from them, remember the lessons, put it in the past and move on. That’s what emotionally-healthy and successful people do, and now you can too.
Originally published at www.inc.com.