Spring Clean Your Mind: 6 Negative Thoughts To Dump and What to Replace Them With
The seasons wait for no one. Even with our world in a state of temporary pause, one look outside at the blossoming trees and blooming bulbs sends one clear, universal message: spring is here. It’s a time for renewal, for cleansing, and with the surplus of time that we find ourselves with nowadays, there doesn’t seem to be any rational argument to put off those spring cleaning duties any longer. Picture it: you turn your closet inside out, you move your couch to opposite side of your living room, you re-grout your bathroom tile, but something still feels… off. Perhaps it’s time to look for and reorganize that mental clutter as well. We realize that searching through your mind to single out those toxic thoughts can be as exhausting as cleaning every inch of your kitchen, so here are six negative thoughts to look for in your mental spring cleaning and six more positive thoughts to shine light in their place. Remember, it’s not so much about banishing these thoughts completely, but about turning the phrase on its side to look at it from a different angle.
- The All-or-Nothing
It’s not helpful or productive to be thinking in these terms of overgeneralization. Just because you’ve had one bad or lazy day doesn’t mean you set yourself up for failure in the long run. Allow yourself to have small moments of respite— not every day needs to be jam packed with activity or action. Sometimes, we can even learn more about ourselves within the lulled silences found in between than we can when everything is whirling by in a flurry of typical, fast-paced productivity.
NEGATIVE: “I can’t believe I wasted a whole day procrastinating and being unproductive.”
POSITIVE: “I’m grateful that I was able to spend my time today resting, since I don’t always have time to rest and rest is healing for both the body and soul.”
- The Belittler
Yes, there are many reasons to feel anxious right now. And many of the roots for this anxiety is out of our hands. It’s easy to give in to these anxious thoughts of losing all sense of control, but you should remember that there are always things that you can find that you can control such as your reactions to situations or your action plan to combat those feelings of helplessness. Don’t trivialize those feelings of anxiousness—they’re completely valid. Instead, focus on not shrinking yourself in the face of your problems. Those problems may not be easy to dissolve, but at least keeping yourself at your full height mentally and remembering the ways in which you do have the ability to ward off those bad feelings will help in the long run.
NEGATIVE: “I feel so anxious about the state of the world right now and since I can’t do anything to change it, there’s nothing I can do to pull myself out of this darkness.”
POSITIVE: “I recognize that I am feeling anxious about things that I cannot change nor control, but I choose to focus on what I can control within myself and my environment to see the brighter side of things in my day.”
- The Should’ve, Would’ve, Could’ve
We all set goals for ourselves and it can be a major disappointment to realize we are not hitting those targets as timely or accurately as we would like. However, guilting yourself into working out more or eating better is not the positive framework that you want to have in place if you truly care about your physical and mental well being. Try sticking to the facts in order to remember exactly why you have those goals and allow yourself to take the baby steps necessary to get there. Cutting out small amounts of sugar each day will definitely be more effective than attempting to dump it all out in the span of one day.
NEGATIVE: “I really should stop eating junk and work out more.”
POSITIVE: “Reducing some of the sugar in my diet and doing some exercises will help me get one step further in my health journey and put me in a better frame of mind when evaluating my wellness.”
- The Over-thinker
For serial over-thinkers, prolonged silences on the ends of our loved ones can often lead to a downwards spiral of guilt-inducing thoughts (What if I did something wrong?) or hasty generalizations (Nobody likes me.) Remember that everyone has their own reasons for calling or not calling, texting or not texting, and that you always have the ability to reach out on your own. Communication is a two way street—if you want to talk to someone, reach out! There’s a chance they’re feeling just as alone as you are and have been waiting for your call with that same anxiety and doubt gnawing at their minds.
NEGATIVE: “Nobody has texted me or called me in days. Nobody cares about me or my well being.”
POSITIVE: “I haven’t heard from people in a while which makes me feel isolated. I’m going to call some people to feel more connected and potentially prevent someone else from feeling isolated as well.”
- The Comparison
In the age of technology and social media, we all know that we are constantly comparing our corners of reality with each other’s. Remember though that experience is something that varies in degrees that we cannot even fathom. Different people—introverts, extroverts—are sure to take different paths when faced with the same problem. This variance is one of the beauties of humanity and it is equally important to note that emotions are definitively not stagnant. One picture on Instagram is not indicative of constant happiness in one person’s life. There are bad days and there are good days, and most of the time the bad days make those good days all the more sweet when they do come along.
NEGATIVE: “Other people seem to be completely fine— are having fun, even— in quarantine. Why am I having such a hard time feeling just as good or at least somewhat like myself again?”
POSITIVE: “While they seem to be having fun baking and relaxing in quarantine, I realize that everyone reacts to situations differently and that my reaction is completely valid. Just as they surely aren’t happy every waking moment during quarantine, I surely won’t be this sad forever.”
- The One Internalized from the Internet
Honestly, the negative energy being tossed around with those post-apocalyptic 2020 memes is as overdone as it is overinflated. Reality is not at its finest, that’s for sure, but one picture set created by a thirteen-year-old and posted around Facebook should not be the barometer that you set for the rest of the year. No matter how bad things get, we always have control over how we frame things. Labeling the beginning of a new decade with these negative qualifiers when we aren’t even halfway through is sure to not only be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but may also blind you from the good that occurs even everything looks bleak.
NEGATIVE: “I thought 2020 was going to be my year, but so far things have only gone wrong—wildfires, pandemics, death-- and so it’s doomed to be the worst year ever.”
POSITIVE: “We’re only four months into 2020, and although there are certainly many things that have gone awry, plenty of things have gone right as well. We’ve welcomed a new decade with a test of our resilience and strength and we will live the next eight months left in the year with the optimistic outlook that will draw positive energy back to me.”