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Thursday, July 9, 2009

10 Deadly Sins of Negative Thinking

1. I will be happy once I have _____ (or once I earn X).Problem: If you think you can't be happy until you reach a certainpoint, or until you reach a certain income, or have a certain type ofhouse or car or computer setup, you'll never be happy. That elusivegoal is always just out of reach. Once we reach those goals, we arenot satisfied we want more.Solution: Learn to be happy with what you have, where you are, and whoyou are, right at this moment. Happiness doesn't have to be some statethat we want to get to eventually it can be found right now. Learn tocount your blessings, and see the positive in your situation. Thismight sound simplistic, but it works.

2. I wish I were as ____ as (a celebrity, friend, co-worker).Problem: We'll never be as pretty, as talented, as rich, as sculpted,as cool, as everyone else. There will always be someone better, if youlook hard enough. Therefore, if we compare ourselves to others likethis, we will always pale, and will always fail, and will always feelbad about ourselves. This is no way to be happy.Solution: Stop comparing yourself to others, and look instead atyourself what are your strengths, your accomplishments, yoursuccesses, however small? What do you love about yourself? Learn tolove who you are, right now, not who you want to become. There is goodin each of us, love in each of us, and a wonderful human spirit inevery one of us.

3. Seeing others becoming successful makes me jealous and resentful.Problem: First, this assumes that only a small number of people can besuccessful. In truth, many, many people can be successful indifferent ways.Solution: Learn to admire the success of others, and learn from it,and be happy for them, by empathizing with them and understanding whatit must be like to be them. And then turn away from them, and look atyourself you can be successful too, in whatever you choose to do. Andeven more, you already are successful. Look not at those above you inthe social ladder, but those below you there are always millions ofpeople worse off than you, people who couldn't even read this articleor afford a computer. In that light, you are a huge success.

4. I am a miserable failure I can't seem to do anything right.Problem: Everyone is a failure, if you look at it in certain ways.Everyone has failed, many times, at different things. I have certainlyfailed so many times I cannot count them and I continue to fail,daily. However, looking at your failures as failures only makes youfeel bad about yourself. By thinking in this way, we will have anegative self-image and never move on from here.Solution: See your successes and ignore your failures. Look back onyour life, in the last month, or year, or 5 years. And try to rememberyour successes.. If you have trouble with this, start documenting them keep a success journal, either in a notebook or online. Document yoursuccess each day, or each week. When you look back at what you'veaccomplished, over a year, you will be amazed. It's an incrediblypositive feeling.

5. I'm going to beat so-and-so no matter what I'm better than him.And there's no way I'll help him succeed he might beat me.Problem: Competitiveness assumes that there is a small amount of goldto be had, and I need to get it before he does. It makes us intogreedy, back-stabbing, hurtful people. We try to claw our way overpeople to get to success, because of our competitive feelings. Forexample, if a blogger wants to have more subscribers than anotherblogger, he may never link to or mention that other blogger. However,who is to say that my subscribers can't also be yours? People can readand subscribe to more than one blog.Solution: Learn to see success as something that can be shared, andlearn that if we help each other out, we can each have a better chanceto be successful. Two people working towards a common goal are betterthan two people trying to beat each other up to get to that goal.There is more than enough success to go around. Learn to think interms of abundance rather than scarcity.

6. Dammit! Why do these bad things always happen to me?Problem: Bad things happen to everybody. If we dwell on them, theywill frustrate us and bring us down.Solution: See bad things as a part of the ebb and flow of life.Suffering is a part of the human condition but it passes. All paingoes away, eventually. Meanwhile, don't let it hold you back. Don'tdwell on bad things, but look forward towards something good in yourfuture. And learn to take the bad things in stride, and learn fromthem.. Bad things are actually opportunities to grow and learn and getstronger, in disguise.

7. You can't do anything right! Why can't you be like ____ ?Problem: This can be said to your child or your subordinate or yoursibling. The problem? Comparing two people, first of all, is always afallacy. People are different, with different ways of doing things,different strengths and weaknesses, different human characteristics.If we were all the same, we'd be robots. Second, saying negativethings like this to another person never helps the situation. It mightmake you feel better, and more powerful, but in truth, it hurts yourrelationship, it will actually make you feel negative, and it willcertainly make the other person feel negative and more likely tocontinue negative behavior. Everyone loses.Solution: Take the mistakes or bad behavior of others as anopportunity to teach. Show them how to do something. Second, praisethem for their positive behavior, and encourage their success. Last,and most important, love them for who they are, and celebrate theirdifferences.

8. Your work sucks. It's super lame. You are a moron and I hope younever reproduce.Problem: I've actually gotten this comment before. It feels wonderful.However, let's look at it not from the perspective of the personreceiving this kind of comment but from the perspective of the persongiving it. How does saying something negative like this help you? Iguess it might feel good to vent if you feel like your time has beenwasted. But really, how much of your time has been wasted? A fewminutes? And whose fault is that? The bloggers or yours? In truth,making negative comments just keeps you in a negative mindset. It'salso not a good way to make friends.Solution: Learn to offer constructive solutions, first of all. Insteadof telling someone their blog sucks, or that a post is lame, offersome specific suggestions for improvement. Help them get better. Ifyou are going to take the time to make a comment, make it worth yourtime. Second, learn to interact with people in a more positive way itmakes others feel good and it makes you feel better about yourself.And you can make some great friends this way. That's a good thing.

9. Insulting People BackProblem: If someone insults you or angers you in some way, insultingthem back and continuing your anger only transfers their problem toyou. This person was probably having a bad day (or a bad year) andtook it out on you for some reason. If you reciprocate, you are nowhaving a bad day too. His problem has become yours. Not only that, butthe cycle of insults can get worse and worse until it results inviolence or other negative consequences for both of you.Solution: Let the insults or negative comments of others slide off youlike Teflon. Don't let their problem become yours. In fact, try tounderstand their problem more why would someone say something likethat? What problems are they going through? Having a little empathyfor someone not only makes you understand that their comment is notabout you, but it can make you feel and act in a positive mannertowards them and make you feel better about yourself in the process.

10. I don't think I can do this I don't have enough discipline. Maybesome other time.Problem: If you don't think you can do something, you probably won't.Especially for the big stuff.. Discipline has nothing to do with itmotivation and focus has everything to do with it. And if you putstuff off for “some other time”, you'll never get it done. Negativethinking like this inhibits us from accomplishing anything.
Solution: Turn your thinking around: you can do this! You don't needdiscipline. Find ways to make yourself a success at your goal. If youfail, learn from your mistakes, and try again. Instead of putting agoal off for later, start now. And focus on one goal at a time,putting all of your energy into it, and getting as much help fromothers as you can. You can really move mountains if you start withpositive thinking.

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