If you’re reading this, you’re probably striving to live a positive, present life — and you probably know just how hard that can be at times. Life is filled with negative situations, people, and internal battles, which makes staying positive a tad challenging sometimes (and by “sometimes” I mean “most of the time”).
As I posted last week (here on Instagram — didn’t write it, but I 100% support it), “The first step to getting what you want is having the courage to walk away from what you don’t.” And that most certainly applies to creating more positivity in your life. If you want more positivity, you’ve got to make room for it — and that means getting rid of the negative. It’s no easy task, but here are some of the best tips and tricks for getting rid of the negative so you can make room for the positive. (And, I know well from experience, the more space you make for positive things, the more positive things will find their way to you!)
- AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE (OBVI)This sounds so obvious, but really, how often do you really ask yourself, “Is this person a positive or a negative influence?” Most of us kind of just go with the flow when it comes to who we surround ourselves with, but, in many cases, we have a choice about who we interact with, and we don’t always avoid the negative. Pay attention to how people make you feel, and if you determine someone is a negative influence (you’ll know because you feel drained, down, or just icky after hanging out with them), stop hanging out with him/her or, if that’s not an option, do what you can to limit the amount of interactions.
- SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES + KEEP THEMYou might have seen the memo Steve Harvey wrote to his staff circulating (and being mocked), but it’s a pretty amazing example of someone setting boundaries and making them very clear to those around them. We’re all different and have different ideas of what our boundaries should be, but one of the best ways to avoid negative interactions is to know what your boundaries are (especially with other people!), communicate those boundaries clearly, and maintain those boundaries ruthlessly. This is hard (even if you’re good at it), but it’s one the best ways to limit negativity (and practice self-love, too!).
- LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS, NOT PROBLEMSWe all have problems — that’s just life. But what most of us don’t do is redirect our attention from the problems to the potential solutions. As humans, we’re often on the lookout for what could go wrong (it’s our instinct, trying to help us avoid bad situations), but if you want to cut back on negativity, try shifting your focus from what’s going wrong to how you might be able to make it right. Yes, it’s easier to complain, but when did whining ever get you anywhere? The more you treat problems like challenges you have the opportunity to solve, the more likely you’ll be to actually find solutions (and limit negativity!).
- PRACTICE NOT TAKING IT PERSONALLYSo, so many issues in relationships (and maybe in the world?) could be avoided if people strived not to take things personally. It’s difficult not to do this (after all, we’re with ourselves all the time and, even if you don’t realize it, your world really does revolve around you and what you’re doing, feeling and thinking), but you can cut down on negativity by not taking what others say and do personally. More often than not, another person’s attitude, words, and actions have way more to do with him or her than they do with you, and realizing that will make it easier not to be offended, thus cutting down on negative emotions!
- RELEASE THE NEED FOR CONTROLThis probably comes as no surprise, but you can’t control what other people do and feel (much as you might want to!). Realizing this (and keeping it in mind all the time!) will greatly reduce the amount of frustration you feel. So much angst comes from trying to make others different than they are, and acceptance is critical for positive relationships (and for cutting down on your own stress!). This doesn’t apply only to people, either. There are many things we cannot control in life, and accepting what is is the best way to create more inner calm.
- PRIORITIZE SELF-LOVESelf-love has been a huge focus for me this year, and, as a result of prioritizing it, I’ve noticed a number of positive changes in my life. Self-love is about respecting, caring for, and taking care of yourself. When you make this a priority, you’re going to be able to more easily make choices that are best for you. Whenever you face a new decision, ask yourself, “What would be the most self-loving choice?” then choose that! The more you do this, the less time you’ll have to waste on anything (or any person!) that brings you down.
- KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVETo us, our lives seem so big and important, but remember: you’re just a tiny little creature on a little rock in a gigantic galaxy in a stunningly huge universe. This isn’t meant to make you feel insignificant (you aren’t!), but it’s meant to remind you that, in the grand scheme of things (even within your own life!), most situations are pretty small. Keeping perspective (and focusing on how lucky you are to have at least some things going right in your life) is a great way to manage stress, and less stress = less negativity.
- PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU SAYHow much of what you say is negative? How much is positive? We often get in patterns and are so used to doing (or saying!) something a certain way that we just keep doing it that way. But, in order to cut back on negative thinking and speaking, you’ve got to realize you’re doing it! Pay attention to how you’re describing things, and consider if you might be able to change that. For example, saying, “Ugh, Mondays!” isn’t helping you make the most of your Monday. Sure, it might not be your favorite day of the week, but framing it from a negative perspective is going to keep it negative.
- CHOOSE YOUR MEDIA WISELYWhere you spend your time is going to have a big impact on your thinking. How much of what you consume on TV, via social media, in films and online is actually positive? How much of it is making you more optimistic and engaged with your life? How much of it makes you feel sad or stressed or overwhelmed? This isn’t to say you should never watch or read anything upsetting, but if you want to have a more positive life, you need balance, and you need to keep in mind that you have a choice. Take note of how certain shows / sites / etc. make you feel and actively choose whether or not you want to spend time engaging with them.
- CONSIDER IF “I CAN’T…” IS TRUEMany of us get quite set in our ways (especially as we get older!), and it’s all too easy to say, “I can’t…” Sure, there might be things you actually cannot do, but it’s way more likely that “I can’t” is actually “I don’t want to” or “I don’t yet know how to.” Saying you can’t do something not only limits you (if you think you can’t, you probably won’t even try), but it’s also a pretty negative mindset to put yourself in (regardless of whether or not you actually do the thing). So, instead of saying “can’t” consider what the truth is: that you don’t want to, don’t yet know how, don’t feel up to it, etc. Doing so will help cultivate more internal positivity.
- SEEK OUT POSITIVE INSPIRATIONThere’s a lot of negativity out there, but there’s also a lot of positivity, too. If you want to cut back on negativity in your life, fill up your time with positive inspiration. Seek out people, activities, websites, etc. that add positivity to your life and inspire you. We all struggle with negative feelings and thoughts, and it can make a big difference if you have some go-to resources to check out when you’re having a down day. (Or a go-to friend you can call for a positive pick-me-up!) Try to incorporate something inspiring into every day, and you’ll be giving yourself a daily boost of positivity!
These tips are the best place to get started when it comes to distancing yourself from negativity, but it’s important to remember that choosing positivity isn’t easy (especially if, like me, it doesn’t come naturally to you!). If you find yourself struggling to stay positive, know that you’re not alone and remind yourself that it takes practice. And the more negativity you remove from your life, the more room you’ll have for practicing that positivity!