By: Natasha Archary
Toxic thoughts and a negative mindset can weigh us down more than we know. It’s easy to lose focus and give in to the negativity and believe the inner voice that spreads its pessimistic venom like a cancer, eating away at your hopes and dreams.
According to Cognitive Therapy and Research, we tend to dwell more on our negative thoughts than our positive ones. It’s the negative thoughts that make a greater impact on our overall mental health. Researchers link positive thoughts to lowering depression, increasing life span and reducing risk of death from cardiovascular disease. So it’s really important to stop ourselves from dwelling on the toxic mindset as best we can.
It may not always be easy to think fluffy thoughts when there’s so much going on in the world today. Turning on the news, browsing the net and a general conversation with a colleague or loved one is enough to have you thinking…people are going through a lot. The stress, anxiety, fear that life can throw your way can be overwhelming and it’s normal to feel like there’s no end in sight.
I have just finished reading “The monk who sold his Ferrari”. A powerful, inspirational fable by author and motivational guru, Robin Sharma. The book has completely altered the way I approach life. There were many teachable excerpts that I can relate to but the one that really had an impact on me was “The magic rule of 21.”
“For new behaviour to crystallise into a habit, one has to perform a new activity for twenty-one days in a row.”
The magic rule of 21 has since been adopted by millions of people worldwide. Health and fitness experts swear by the twenty-one-day rule and there are many online challenges urging people to quit bad eating habits for twenty-one days. Could the rule work to clear your negative thoughts too?
According to the book, yes. The idea that we harp on about the negative things in our lives and not focus on even the most minute positive thing that we have going on is valid. As human beings, we tend to put ourselves down more often than we celebrate the highs in our lives. We are our own worst enemy. And, even when we do acknowledge the things that are going right in our lives, we convince ourselves that it’s not enough and we always want more.
What happens to us if we embark on a twenty-one day negative detox? Dr. Caroline Leaf, who has since put together a an online negative detox programme, claims that you can re-invent a freer, more productive you, in just twenty-one days. The program takes only seven to ten minutes of your time every day. Sounds simple and convenient enough, so what is the catch?
In order for a change to occur, one has to first accept that we are guilty of these damaging thoughts, statements and overall mindset. Like you would need to acknowledge your bad eating habits before taking on a twenty-one day physical challenge or new diet/lifestyle. It’s a little more demanding, in that you have to mentally stop yourself from thinking negatively and instead switch your thoughts onto a more positive train of thought.
Most people quit after the fourth day. This is when the realisation that you’re “too old” to learn a new trick kicks in. You have to actively switch your mindset and swap your negative mindset to positive immediately.
There may be people at work, social circle or public settings, whom you notice are always happy. How do they do it? We often ask if they’ve found some magic elixir that means they never have off days. When in reality, they do. Of course they do, they just choose to not dwell on the negative and instead focus on the things they are happy about.
You need a negativity detox if:
- You’re always late – you hate waking up in the mornings and the thought of a regular everyday routine keeps you in bed long after your morning alarm goes off.
- You’re snapping at people – easily annoyed by everyone and everything, you’re unable to control your temper and find yourself snapping at people over the silliest things. Spilled coffee, a colleague sitting on your desk, a loved one borrowing something.
- You’re overwhelmed – it feels like the walls are closing in on you. You struggle to breathe. You experience panic or anxiety attacks. It feels like you can’t cope with all the responsibilities you have.
- You don’t socialise – you’re happier isolating yourself from people. You prefer being on your own and not dealing with their over eager personalities.
- You’re a pessimist – failing to see the beauty in life, you believe that things will never get better. That the rough spot you find yourself in at the moment is where you will always be. You feel powerless and unable to change your situation.
How to start a negativity detox:
- Time – Dedicate ten minutes every day for twenty-one days to commit to the negative detox challenge. Spend these ten minutes mentally changing your negative thoughts.
- Silence – In order to do this, you will need a quiet place to hone in and find your inner Zen. Sit in meditation for these ten minutes, in absolute silence.
- Breathe – Practice a calming breathing technique while you meditate. It might seem strange because breathing is something we do involuntarily. But deep, calming breaths are needed to still your mind and let go of everything that is weighing us down.
- Positive mantras – In order to stop the negative thinking, we have to switch up our mindset. Practice repeating a positive saying or mantra everyday. When you wake in the morning, tell yourself you are going to have a beautiful day. Change the negative thoughts about your body, your position in life…whatever it is that has you down, switch it to an affirmation. Force yourself and eventually it will become second nature.
- Switch off – Social media, the news, technology, unplug from all forms of online and digital platforms completely. It doesn’t have to be for the duration of the twenty-one days. It can just be during those dedicate seven to ten minutes a day. The point is to allow yourself to completely switch off your body, mind and soul.
- Speak kind – The only things that should exit your mouth over the next twenty-one days are good vibes, intentions, compliments and positive affirmations. You should not lose your temper, swear or get involved in gossip or insulting others during the twenty-one days.
It may seem like an impossible feat at first. But it can be done. Do this and feel like a whole new person. One who exudes confidence and radiates good energy. Nothing can bring you down when you have total control of your mind.