How we handle stress is often a reflection of our character. Stress is toxic for our mind, our life balance and our health. There is no doubt that there are stress factors every day and every space of our life: work, relationships, health, training … the list goes on and on.
When you really sit back and think about it, there aren’t many things in life that we have full control over. However, there is one thing we can control that influences all of our actions – our thoughts.
Our brain processes about 50,000 thoughts per day, 40,000 of them are negative thoughts. Many of us have been taught “the power of positive thinking.” My wife and I both grew up in households where our parents preached positivity. So great. But not always the most realistic.
The Danger of Positive Thinking
What happens when we focus only on positivity? If you’re living in a giant bubble and never have to make contact with other humans, this is a perfectly viable strategy. However, when you have to make connections with the world, even if you strive to see the best in others, this isn’t going to allow you much flexibility.
The Danger of Negative Thinking
It has been said that once we voice a negative comment, it is now seven times more powerful. Have you ever said something like this to yourself? “So-and-so makes me so angry” or “I’m so tired, I have no idea how I’ll get through the day.” Wow! We are prisoners to our own thoughts. Our thoughts control our words and our actions, and we are the only ones who can take full accountability for ourselves.
The Power of Neutral Thinking
When we take a displeasing situation and are forced to insert positive thinking, or even worse, verbalize positive comments, this may seem forced or fake. What we are suggesting is that you take the same situation and look at it as cause and effect. Absolutely acknowledge what has happened, and then through neutral thinking, move past it.
Remember the quote: “For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction?” This is what we are talking about. Life is built of “actions” and “reactions,” and we are encouraging you consider the reaction. Instead of injecting purely positive or negative responses as reactions to events, try to find the variation in every situation.
Let’s take one of our earlier examples, “I’m so tired, I have no idea how I’ll get through the day.” Just to be clear, this is a negative statement. Now, how could we make this a neutral statement? First, think about cause and effect. You’re tired, no denying it, but how will you acknowledge it and then, step two – move past it. Maybe something along the lines of “I didn’t get enough sleep last night, therefore I am tired. Tonight, I will go to bed earlier so that I feel more rested tomorrow.” See there, that wasn’t so hard. This process of neutral thinking allows us to have conflict resolution in our own minds, and helps us move past situations without focusing on the negative.
This way of thinking creates an opportunity to filter your thoughts and consider the cause a bit more directly. Over time, you may find yourself less exhausted by the rollercoaster ride of positive and negative responses most of our days include.
Control What You Can Control
If you’ve ever heard the quote “control what you can control,” here is the ultimate opportunity. You can’t control how others react to you, how the traffic is flowing, what the weather is like, how the stock market closes… but you can control your thoughts about any and everything that comes your way. You’re in charge of how you think, and what you verbalize. Small steps create big changes over time. Start now and stay alert of how you’re thinking.