Snap Out Of It: How To Break The Negativity Cycle
Look, we’ve all been there before. Everything sucks. The weather sucks. Your day sucks. Everyone you meet sucks.
There’s nothing on TV because TV sucks. There’s nothing to do this weekend because your town sucks. Life stops being fun, and even the littlest things turn into fodder for an angry rant.
If you find yourself feeling this way, relax, you’re just in the middle of a negativity cycle. It’s not easy, but you can turn it around.
What’s A Negativity Cycle?
Sounds like a fancy-pants name for being in a bad mood — and I guess that it kind of is. Here’s the difference:
A bad mood can come and go. A negativity cycle is a spiral in which you basically become addicted to negativity. Complainin’, hatin’, and all-around being a miserable f*ck serve as the scratch to a certain psychological itch.
Sometimes, it feels great to just whine and complain about shit that doesn’t go your way. Venting is healthy because it releases pent-up frustration. But if you do it too often, it becomes a habit.
You start needing that complain session to make you feel better, and before you know it, you’re negative nearly all the time. This cycle leads to one hell of a bad mood that doesn’t quit. Basically, you’re addicted to being negative — and you’re a miserable person as a result.
How To Break The Cycle
If you’re in one of these cycles, it’s not so easy to break out. I compare it to eating a bunch of junk food. It feels good at the time, but you feel like shit afterwards.
On some level, you know you need to stop. You know you need to eat healthy and exercise — but man, sitting on your ass and eating crap just feels better in the moment.
Eating healthy and exercising, on the other hand, may bring less short-term pleasure, but you feel way better long-term. You have more energy. Your body works better. You feel more positive, physically and psychologically.
Interestingly enough, breaking the negativity cycle is very similar to breaking the lazy junk food cycle. Here’s how:
Change Your “Diet”
Not literally, although eating right and exercising is massively helpful to your mood. No, I’m talking about changing your mental diet. Think about stimuli as if it were food. Negative shit is junk food, and positive stuff is healthy food.
If you’re stuck in a negativity cycle, chances are that you’re feeding yourself a lot of negative stimuli. Rant-filled articles, ready internet comments, angry message boards, incendiary news reports.
Replace with something more empowering. I don’t care if you just watch “Rocky” on a damn loop (not the worst idea, actually). Just stop filling your head with additional negativity. Right now, you’re in a bad place, so don’t make it harder on yourself.
Create A Mental Exercise Schedule
Cutting down on your negative stimuli intake alone isn’t going to break you out of your cycle. You need to train your mind to avoid these kinds of negative thought patterns.
The goals here are to 1) break negative thought patterns and 2) create positive thought patterns. Here are couple things that you can try right now:
1. And then list three good things
Anytime you go down a path where you’re complaining or ranting, make yourself finish it off with three good things about that topic. You don’t have to do it aloud (though it helps).
The idea here is to start conditioning your brain to find the good in things. You see, often times there is just as much good as there is bad; you’re just focusing on the bad.
By balancing things out, you can break that cycle of negativity. Perhaps next time, your instinct will be to skip right to the good.
2. Regularly focus on the good in your life
If you have time, try to do it daily. Otherwise, weekly works, and you only need 10-15 minutes. Just schedule time in your day to focus on 1) things you’re excited about in your life, 2) things you’re proud of (past or present), and 3) things you’re grateful for.
Yes, I know, I know, this sounds cheesy AF, but just give it a shot. I guarantee if you really commit to it and really let yourself feel the happiness or pride or gratitude tied to these memories and thoughts, it will absolutely improve your outlook.
Be Ready For The Battle
Maintaining a positive outlook is just as difficult as staying in great physical shape. You can’t work out a couple times and just be done with it. It takes an ongoing, consistent effort.
Look, we’re all going to go through phases where we’re a little more negative than usual. It’s part of being human. But, if you pick up some of these habits and practice them regularly, it’s a hell of a lot harder to spiral into a negative cycle.