Years ago, while being shown advanced driving tactics, the instructor taught me that people will drive to where their focus is pointed. He said, “Drive to where you want to go on the road ahead, not from where you are on the road. Don’t focus on the debris in the road or you’ll drive right toward it. Instead, use your peripheral vision to guide you away from it.”
Negativity is like that debris on the road. If it catches your focus, it can become what you aim for. Where you might hit a snag is not realizing it has already crept in and become your version of normal. Here are 5 ways negativity works its way in along with how to remove it from your life by changing your focus.
Trying to feel better about ourselves, we mentally criticize others, tearing them down to build ourselves up. Unfortunately, this habit teaches our minds to see what’s wrong in others and in ourselves. The end result is feeling worse about ourselves instead of better. But when we look for the good in others, we teach our minds to see what’s good in ourselves, too.
When we look for the good in others, we teach our minds to see what’s good in ourselves, too.
Regret keeps us focused on past failures, reminding us of how we’ve messed up. It’s difficult to expect good to come while ruminating on how disappointed we are in ourselves. Forgive yourself.
I do this by picturing myself at that time in life and saying, “ I forgive you for___” and listing out each disappointment. One of the best tips for how to remove negativity from your life is to let go of the past. That allows us to shift our focus forward to new potential.
Expecting the Worst
While expecting the worst can feel like self-protection, it actually points us in a negative direction. Science has shown that 91 percent of worries never come to pass and two-thirds of the remaining nine percent have better outcomes than expected. Worry is using our imagination to think the worst.
Imagine the peace of mind we would have if instead, we spent that energy focusing on the possibility of good things to come to our lives. Take a moment right now to imagine life going in a positive direction.
As I mentioned, self-forgiveness removes negativity from our lives. Forgiving others does too. Keeping a tally of offenses holds our focus in the wrong direction. People will hurt us. Sometimes it’s intentional, but most of the time it’s unintentional. Either way, holding onto these hurts only causes further harm to ourselves by souring our outlook on life.
I’ve found it helpful to write a letter to people I need to forgive. I don’t give it to them. Instead, I burn it. This little ceremony releases the offense and frees my heart from the burden.
We don’t even realize how often we complain. We even can develop friendships that are built around negativity. How much of your social media feed is filled with complaints? How do you feel after reading them? It’s surprising how often I am tempted to complain as a means of social connection and conversation.
It’s taken lots of practice to teach myself not to complain, but it has improved my outlook. Instead, I try to steer in-person conversations toward positive topics and avoid commenting on negative social media posts.
What are some other ways to remove negativity from your life?