“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart…
….Your worst enemy cannot harm you
As much as your own thoughts, unguarded….”
~Dhammapada The Buddha
The only worst enemy you have against reaching your goals is yourself. Yes, no one can put you down except your own negative thoughts and beliefs. A negative outlook on life blocks people from believing in themselves and going after their success. Negativity more often than not leads down the road to unhappiness and failure, all results from limiting beliefs and fear of trying.
Sure, you may blame family, friends, and your environment for shaping the negative thinker that you are; still, you have the choice whether to remain so or start developing yourself into a more positive can-do achiever.
What Causes Negative Thinking and Emotions?
Your milieu could be the root of your negative attitudes.
A family whose members hardly see the positive side of things make it difficult to be around them and not think the same way. A lonely grandmother who complains about life now compared to 40 years ago and a father who whines about your choice of career may indeed leave you upset, anxious, and stressed out.
The truth of the matter here is that you cannot control how they feel and see life. You may show them a different perspective; but in the end, it is their choice whether to fall back on the same negative patterns or to take your lead.
The best way to stay on the road of positivity is to create space. You may opt to live away and simply visit. If this is not feasible yet, you must change your reaction to them by making a conscious effort of not reacting negatively in kind. Be aware of yourself so you can break habitual negative responses to their provocations and set some necessary boundaries. If your family member needs to get some counselling, encourage that he does so, if possible.
If one is already surrounded by family negativity, it seems illogical to surround oneself with friends who limit him. Unfortunately many people, despite living with a negative family, tend to gravitate toward other negative people.
Most of the time, we can control who we want to spend our time with. Friends with negative attitudes only reinforce our own; so, the best thing is to look for friends who make us see the more positive side of possibilities out there.
Negative environment / Unsatisfying Life Circumstances
Unfortunate life circumstances or less than satisfying living conditions naturally enforce one’s negative perception of the world. The truth is one has the power to change his circumstances and consequently better his environment.
Negative Thoughts that Spawn Negative Emotions
Common self-limiting thoughts brought about by negative influences from one’s environment:
Constant comparison of self with others
While it is alright to check where others are so you can form some idea of your progress, it is not worth obsessively comparing yourself to anyone and then beating yourself up for not measuring up. Your circumstances are different from other people’s; so if you want to compare, compare your present self with your past self. If you have improved, reward yourself for it.
Needing approval of others
It is a natural social inclination for a person to want approval from his peers. Problem is, if you focus on what other people think of you, you limit yourself from pursuing your passions and goals by failing to do what is necessary but not popular. In the end, you do not accomplish anything plus you may have to live with the regret of not having the gall to listen to yourself.
Getting stuck in the past
Getting mired in past mistakes is a no-win situation if you do not learn from them or right your wrongs. Mistakes are part of the learning process and should be viewed as lessons, not failures.
Think you do not stand the chance of being accepted in that dream job, even if you have as much skill and experience as others? You will prove yourself right if you think this way. If you do not have the confidence that you can do the job, other people won’t be convinced you are qualified at all. Believing in yourself and in your skills and abilities will show in your behaviour which will persuade others to also see you, your way. Conversely, thinking other people are better will certainly make them agree with that thought too.
There are many other negative thoughts that damage our opportunities and limit our potentials. We need to be highly aware of them so we can purge ourselves of these which serve us no good.