Let’s talk about head trash.
That’s my name for negative thoughts, like I’m no good at this. I shouldn’t have said that. I’ll never have what they have.
We all, at one time or another, let head trash get the best of us. It’s human nature.
But it can quickly pile up, spilling out into and stinking up our relationships, job performance, and ability to move forward.
That’s because negative thoughts are toxic. When we habitually think and believe them, we stop ourselves from living our best lives.
If you’re stuck in a place of pessimism, it’s time to take out the trash. Try one (or all) of these five steps.
Observe negative thoughts from a distance.
This is a very helpful skill I’ve learned through meditation. Let your negative thoughts come—and then let them go, removing yourself from the process. This intentional separation can be incredibly helpful if you start incorporating it throughout your day. Sure, the thoughts still arrive. But then, more importantly, they leave, and you are free to focus on more productive ideas.
Stop using minimizing or powerless language.
When you speak, pay attention to what you’re saying. How are you letting your head trash spill out through your words? A client recently shared that she had visited a friend’s house, and the friend took her on a tour of the home, going from room to room without apologizing for or cutting anything down. It struck my client as both refreshing and unique, which is sad—but a good lesson for all of us.
Create a positive mantra.
Bookend your days with a phrase that makes you feel optimistic. Say it while you drive to work. In the elevator. In the shower. In front of the mirror. To your dog. A helpful tool I learned while receiving Reiki a few years back was the mantra, “Just for today, I am…” Feel free to pilfer that and make it your own by adjusting it to fit a challenge you’re currently facing. Headed to a tough meeting? Say, “Just for today, I am confident I can navigate this controversy.”
Use your data.
Find a way to keep a realistic record so you can prove your thoughts are unfounded. For example, I tend to think I’m an all-or-nothing healthy eater, meaning moderation isn’t really a thing for me. So I’d fixate on the unhealthy foods I’d consume. But when I started to think about it logically, I realized I’m eating nutrient-dense foods 85 percent of the time. The data just didn’t support my negative thoughts.
Find the lesson.
If your negative thoughts are the result of a specific event, what can that experience teach you? Finding the lesson in a failure has the power to turn your shame or hopelessness into drive, making that event simply a vessel for getting to your next. Did you botch a presentation? Ask for feedback from those in attendance and create a game plan so you’ll do it better next time.
I think you’ll find that once your head trash is out by the curb where it belongs, you’re able to make decisions and operate from a place of empowerment and clarity, rather than weakness. And that means living a more joyful and purposeful life. What more could you ask for?
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