Are you feeling overwhelmed and can’t seem to shake a negative attitude?
When you share these feelings with others what’s the most common response you get?
As moms, we hear this all the time. Just be grateful, right? Being told to be grateful can sometimes sound like a cliché.
Simply being grateful doesn’t change the fact that you are struggling. Unfortunately, your negative mindset is already impacting your life.
You might be aware that you are privileged and appreciate what you have. But that doesn’t discount your struggles. It’s hard.
Moms face lots of challenges that can open them up to negative thought patterns.
So, how do you practice genuine appreciation when you’re fed up with being told to simply be grateful for what you have?
Writing a quick line in your journal might not be enough to combat negative thoughts. It probably won’t generate genuine gratitude either.
I’ll share with you some helpful ways you can be authentically grateful.
Before I discuss these exercises, I want to share the benefits of genuine gratitude.
The obvious one is positivity. People who are positive are going to be less stressed, overall happier, and therefore healthier too.
Science has shown that feeling genuine gratitude releases happy hormones like Dopamine and Serotonin.
So, it’s not just about being grateful for the sake of it. It has some significant benefits for you and others too.
Combat negative thinking and cultivate genuine gratitude with these 3-Steps.
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1. Acknowledge and identify negative thoughts
When negative thoughts arise, take a moment to acknowledge and identify these thoughts. Identifying your negative thoughts can help you distance yourself from them and gain a better perspective.
Talk it out with a trusted person, write it on paper, or say it aloud to yourself.
Suppressing negative emotions will only strengthen resentment, frustration, and a negative mindset.
Suppressed emotions will only cloud your judgment. Acknowledging, identifying, and then releasing it will help clear your mind and focus better. This is your first step to developing a grateful mindset.
Take Action: Write it out or talk it out with a trusted person
2. Challenge your negative thoughts
Once you’ve identified your negative thoughts, challenge them. Ask yourself if they are true or if there is evidence to support them. Often, negative thoughts are based on assumptions and not facts.
When you’re feeling stuck in negative thinking, it’s helpful to seek out proof that disproves your negative thought.
For example, if you’re feeling like a failure at work, try to remember times when you were successful or received positive feedback.
Challenge negative thoughts by asking yourself these questions:
“Is this thought really true or am I just letting my emotions get the best of me?”
When you catch yourself having a negative thought, ask yourself if there’s any evidence to support it. Often, negative thoughts are based on assumptions or perceptions that aren’t entirely accurate.
“What would I say to a friend who was having these same thoughts?”
Sometimes, it can be easier to offer words of encouragement and support to a friend than it is to ourselves. Ask yourself what advice you would give to a friend who was having the same negative thoughts, and then try applying that advice to your own situation.
“How would I feel if I let go of this negative thought?”
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to let go of the negative thought and replace it with a positive one. What emotions would you feel? How would your outlook on the situation change?
Take Action: Answer the questions above to help you challenge negative thoughts productively.
3. Reframe negative thoughts
Now that you can acknowledge, identify, and challenge negative thinking. You can move on to the next action, called reframing.
We are susceptible to Negativity Bias so reframing a negative thought is an effective way of managing this.
What is Negativity Bias?
It is something that happens when you are often negative, so much so that it directs all your attention to negative thinking resulting in a never-ending cycle of negativity.
It is very difficult to break with a lot of mental energy dedicated to negative thought patterns.
It doesn’t just end there. When you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of negativity, your automatic thoughts become core beliefs.
Core beliefs are what you believe to be true. So, if your thoughts are automatically negative then it’s likely that your beliefs are as well.
The problem with this is that you could be wrong.
This is why reframing your thoughts is so effective.
Imagine that your automatic thoughts are this…
“I’ll never be able to …..”
“I’ll never be able to do ….. because….so why bother”
As you can see, these thoughts can park permanently in your mind despite them not likely being true.
Because they are deep-seated, you will struggle to do x, y, or z. You’ve already given in to this thought, so it becomes reality.
Instead of using negative self-talk like “I can’t” or “I’ll never”, reframe them into more positive or neutral ones.
For example, instead of “I can’t do this,” try “I can do this with a little bit of effort and practice.”
Take Action: Practice reframing with thoughts you often have. Write them down if you have to, along with positive or neutral responses to the negative thoughts. Keep practicing, it’s the only way to say Goodbye to automatic negative thoughts!
4. Take action
- Acknowledge and Identify.
More ways to cultivate gratitude daily
They are small and underrated activities that can have a big impact on fighting negativity and cultivating gratitude.
Here they are…
Make eye contact.
For many people, eye contact is powerful and shows them you value, recognize, and understand them. Not all people like eye contact and for some it’s uncomfortable.
For the people in your life that you care about and prefer eye contact, this is a good way to show your appreciation. It’s one of the many ways to practice gratitude.
Use Mental Subtraction.
Sounds complicated, but it really is not. Mental subtraction can be used to visualize the loss of something you currently have.
It’s a good strategy to use when you are taking something for granted.
It can be anything, like a job, childcare, a neighborhood, your car, etc. Imagine you lost one of these privileges. How would feel not having it in your life? What is the impact?
So, if you’re complaining about something think about what it would be like without it. It might surprise you that you can’t live without it or that maybe you can.
Create a positive space.
Here’s a fun opportunity to create a space that you love and supports positivity.
Surround yourself with things you love, listening to uplifting music, or reading inspiring quotes.
It doesn’t need to be a large space and it doesn’t need to be fancy either. Get creative!
Show yourself some compassion.
Challenging negative thoughts can be hard work, so it’s important to be kind to yourself throughout the process.
Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a good friend or family member.
Prioritizing your well-being.
A form of self-compassion, prioritizing your well-being will help significantly with negativity. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities you enjoy will make a difference.
Make daily movement a priority.
Physical activity is a great way to release stress and improve your mood. Whether it’s going for a walk, taking a yoga class, or dancing to your favorite song, find an activity that works for you.
You might have heard of affirmations and already be using them to improve your mindset. If you are, that’s great, keep it doing it! This is a form of positive self-talk and can help with automatic negative thoughts.
If you’ve identified what negative thoughts are holding you back, use affirmations to counter them.
Here are 50 free affirmations you can use to get started.
Self-Reflect at the end of the day.
Daily self-reflection is a good habit to get into whether you have frequent negative thought patterns or not.
Self-reflection is a practice that will develop your self-awareness which is something we all need to make better decisions.
Thankfully, it doesn’t require a lot of time to do. However, it is something you don’t want to hurry through.
At the end of the day, give yourself at least 5-10 minutes to ask yourself this…
- What went well today? Reflect on the positive experiences, accomplishments (big or small – celebrate them!), and moments of happiness that you had throughout the day.
- What could I have done better? Think about any challenges, obstacles, or mistakes that you faced. Identify what you could have done differently and think about how you can improve next time.
- How can I take care of myself tomorrow? Your physical, emotional, and mental well-being matters. Think about what you can do to take care of yourself tomorrow, whether it’s getting more rest, more movement, or seeking support from loved ones.
These questions can help you reflect on your day, gain insights about yourself, and prepare yourself for tomorrow.
Sometimes we need to see in action how fortunate we are and how our problems are not as big and overwhelming as we think it is.
This is not about dismissing your struggles. It’s about getting a different perspective.
Volunteering can provide that change of perspective and renewed gratefulness.
It has a lot of other benefits like a sense of purpose, a sense of community, and connection. You will even gain new skills and build on the skills you already have.
Sometimes life can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult to get started on your own.
Having an emotionally neutral person in your life can help you gain a fresh perspective. And when it comes to breaking free from negative thought patterns, a therapist can be a game-changer.
If you’re struggling with negativity and it’s impacting your daily life, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional therapist. They have the skills and expertise to help you stop those negative thoughts in their tracks.
Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help when you need it.
Cultivating authentic gratitude may take some effort, self-awareness, and focus. But it’s worth it. With practice and commitment, appreciation won’t feel forced. It will come more naturally.
If you’re looking to shift your mindset and add more positivity to your life, these strategies might just do the trick. Try them and see if they help you cultivate healthier optimism.