Depression, anxiety, fear, emotional insecurity, and a host of other negative emotions, which adversely affect the quality of one’s life, are associated with negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are products of internalized self-defeating beliefs, which give rise to feelings of being inadequate, unworthy of love, deficient, or insignificant. These feelings may then lead to low self-confidence, low self-esteem, misanthropy (hating the world), apprehension, and poor performances at work and at school. It is therefore crucial that we do away with negative thoughts and dwell on positive thoughts. Still, this can feel like an extremely difficult task.
The fear of failure is a common fear experienced by virtually everyone, and stems from the negative thoughts we have. And while this fear is present in almost everybody, it is better managed by some people. Those who manage their fear of failure effectively often excel in their ventures; those who don’t, experience failure after failure, and continue to think that they lack what it takes to succeed. We all want to succeed, because success is important to every one of us. But when you fail at something the first time, it is easy to think that you lack the ability to succeed in it.
Each time a person is about to take on a challenging activity, he reflects back on his self-belief. If he had failed before, it is easy for him to believe that he will fail again, because he picks up his confidence or fear from his past experiences. If he had succeeded before, he can come to believe that he can succeed again. If he was rejected before, he may think that there is something repulsive about him. If he was criticized, he may think that he is deficient.
We have a higher tendency to reflect on negative experiences than on positive experiences. But we must compel ourselves to focus on positive experiences. This is why it is advisable to dwell on past successes, and not past failures; for while you draw strength from past successes, you draw depression and doubt from past failures. If you have never succeeded at all, that doesn’t mean you are a complete failure. All you need to do is learn how to succeed from others, and then do it better than anyone.
Instead of having negative self-talks, we should dwell on moments where we did so well, and then relive such moments. You may have done poorly at the university, but remember that you were also one of the best students at high-school, which goes to show that your poor performance at the university sprung from poor lifestyle choices, rather than lack of potential. Having negative expectations can have negative impacts on your outcomes.
You may have given a poor speech at the interschool competition, but you have always been acknowledged as an impressive speaker. So, you can always associate your poor speech with anxiety, rather than lack of potential. Anxiety could make you stammer. It could make you stagger and trip. It could make you forget your lines, forget your words, and be in a haste. Try as much as possible to calm down, even though it is not easy. Just keep trying to calm yourself down.
In most cases, negative thoughts can also make you toxic to the lives of other people; for example, having self-defeating beliefs and pessimism hinders you from being a believer and sharer of positive, hopeful ideas. If you are always unhappy, you are likely to infect other people around you too; friends and family. You may have acquired those negative thoughts you experience from one or both of your parents, teachers, siblings, or friends, who have always had them. Their negative self-beliefs then infected you; it happens every day to so many people.
It is also important for you to know that those who are unfair to you are not very happy. Anyone with happiness within them will radiate the same happiness outwardly. Those who belittle your efforts also belittle their own efforts. Those who say you are ugly also think they are ugly. And those who say you are inadequate also think they are inadequate. We can only give out what we have; we cannot give out what we don’t have. Therefore, if you don’t have peace within you, you cannot give out peace. And if you do not have love for yourself, you cannot genuinely love others.
Since every thought is rooted in beliefs, you can uproot negative thoughts by changing negative beliefs. Practice positive affirmation; positive affirmations are positive statements you say to yourself either quietly or out loud. For example, ‘I can succeed’ is a positive affirmation. Studies have found that repeating positive affirmations reinforces positive thinking, and over time makes it a habitual way of thinking. The more you make positive affirmations, the more it improves your self-confidence. So, practice positive affirmation to do away with negative thoughts.
Practice positive visualization. Your visions influence your beliefs, and your beliefs give rise to the thoughts you have. Your thoughts give rise to your actions, and the outcomes of your actions go back to influence your visions and beliefs. Positive visualization is the process of seeing yourself accomplish your dreams in your mind, as though it is happening this very moment, and experiencing the positive feelings that accompanies it. When you practice positive visualization more often, you will feel more confident and energetic to make those dreams become reality.
Lastly, acquire wisdom. The undeniable truth is that every one of us can succeed if we have determination and courage. Failure, imperfections, and other poor conditions cannot hold you back from achieving your goals, unless you let them. In my article, ‘Why you are very powerful (part 2)’ I stated that nobody can comprehend your true potential, because nobody knows how truly great it is. Negative words should never stop you from pursuing your dreams, because negative words cannot define who you are. Do not let other people define who you are and what you can do; simply believe that you can do extraordinary things, and then go on to prove to the world that you actually can!