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How to Take Control of Negative Thinking

by Jeannie Assimos - January 27, 2014

Negative thinking patterns make life less satisfying as they keep you stuck in what’s wrong versus what’s right. Negative thinking commonly gets in the way of what you really want. It leaves you feeling empty, dissatisfied and unsettled.

When your glass is half empty, it’s nearly impossible to see the good, the potential or silver linings and life lessons in each experience. In a relationship, this mentality makes it incredibly difficult for both you or your partner to be satisfied. For instance, if your partner feels that he or she can’t please you and enhance your happiness, he or she may feel inferior, helpless, unappreciated, etc.  If you feel that your partner never does anything good enough, relationship conflict, tension and resentment are likely to occur. Unfortunately, this dynamic can easily turn into a vicious cycle of negativity.

The energy you put out into the world radiates back to you, so when you are focused on the negative, that is what you will see and get in your relationships. Although you might have unconsciously or consciously formed negative beliefs to protect yourself from getting hurt or disappointed, it is time to create valuable change if you hope to maintain a healthy, loving relationship. I understand that it may feel easier to assume a new relationship won’t work (especially if you’ve been heartbroken before) instead of getting your hopes up, but isn’t one of your goals to meet someone amazing and thrive as a couple? If you answered yes, this is an opportunity to change your negative lense to a more reality-based and positive mindset.

Here’s how:

1. Honestly assess your beliefs about yourself, the world, relationships and what you hope for in love. Are you operating on beliefs similar to “Nothing ever works out for me,” “Men (or women) always hurt me” or “The world is an ugly place?” If your thoughts sound like some of the above examples, you are engaging in negative thinking.

2. Take control of your negative thoughts. Let’s use the example, “Nothing ever works out for me,” which feels heavy, definitive and permanent. Mentally change this thought to create space for things to work out for you and for you to appreciate all that has gone well for you. Think about your experiences and remind yourself of the many times life went well for you. Try out different affirmative thoughts and see what feels right. Examples of healthier replacement thoughts include, “I am open to positive experiences in my life and love.” or “I am grateful for ______” or “I can handle my life.”

3. Rewire your brain. When a negative thought or belief surfaces, acknowledge it and change it into one of the more affirmative thoughts you have created. This is an incredibly important shift for your mind, so it will take time, effort and patience for it to get the hint that you want it to think in a new, healthier way. However, once you correct it consistently, you will notice that your negative thoughts will dissipate and healthier ones will emerge. This is the way you put down the negative lense and see the world in a more hopeful, open way.

A few other tips to make your dating and relationship life more rewarding as you make important mind shifts to achieve the love you hope for…

1. Remember that managing your expectations is vital to the success of your relationship. Disagreements and conflicts are unavoidable in the relationship world, so remember that this is natural and okay. What’s most important is how you and your partner handle difficult times and grow together.

2. Remember that your partner is a person too. Not everything your partner does will be “right” or “perfect,” so resist the urge to put your negative lense back on when you feel disappointed. Communicate about your needs and try not to generalize a moment when you feel hurt to the scope of your entire relationship.

3. Intentionally view your partner in a positive light. Be grateful for the little things and acts of caring and kindness that your partner exhibits. Say thank you. This will perpetuate a cycle of positivity and compassion in your relationship.

4. Don’t take everything personally. There will be bad dates, struggles, tough conversations and moments that may feel painful at the time. Don’t add these experiences to your negative pile — instead find the life lessons and visualize yourself moving forward toward your goals. Commit to staying positive on your path to finding and keeping love.

How have you dealt with negative thoughts?

About the Author:

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!