Negativity… bleh! It’s never a welcome sentiment. Just the attitude alone can cause for unfavorable outcomes in any given situation. Clinically speaking, patients with the most positive outlooks tend to have the best healthcare outcomes. However, those who come into an illness with poor expectations tend to have a less favorable experience.
Therefore, learning how to redirect negativity into positivity is an essential skill for anyone.
5 Effective Ways to Eliminate Negativity
Focusing on the optimistic perspective is always a good way to redirect negativity. Certainly, the individual or even the situation may return to a negative shade. However, by focusing on the opportunity rather than the direness, one can easily prune out the negativity. Perhaps the best way to do this is to cite specifics and factoids. For myself, I like to have my patients focus on where their opportunities lie. If they are unable to do certain things, I like them to focus on what they are able to do. And, I like them to do those things often! Quickly, they will realize the breadth of their abilities becomes far more positive than they first perceived them to be.
In the situation of chronic pain, it becomes a new experience for those living with pain to not actually be feeling pain. Focusing on this novel experience or any other novelty or anomaly is a good way to bring the mind’s eye focus into the positive rather than the norm… particularly when the norm is negative. One the novel experience has been had, make that the new focus until it becomes the goal and anchor. Pretty soon, the novel experience becomes the norm and the old experience becomes the exception. This can be applied to any range of experiences such as success in athletics, academics, art, etc.
“Be the ball.” A familiar imaging exercise in sports. First imagining the favorable outcomes before practicing it is a good way of carrying out positive expectations as well as results. Using the positive image rather than the negative image as belief anchor is a savvy way of intentionally reminding people to gauge their expectations rather than to slum back into their habits. Imaging can be very useful in graded exposure, progression of performance demands, and even in dealing with anxiety driven challenges. Imagining the win is a great start to living the win itself.
One of the best ways to redirect negativity is to tell a story of a similar or worst case scenario to the situation at hand. Tell of how people you’ve helped or situations you’ve been in have turned it around and made things come out for the better. One of my favorite stories surrounds a young man who had a burst fracture in his lower back. I use his story as one of my prime stories to redirect negativity for the low back pain population. If this guy could make it with a broken back, then you can make it too!
Thoughts are interesting in that, if we can out populate a thought with another thought, then the new thought becomes our primary focus. Slowly seeding and over populating negativity with positivity is a sneaky yet effective way of trending the over all valence of a situation from catastrophic doom into true empowerment. Having people think on the gains and realistic pace of improvement can help them become their own best advocate. What use to be nothing but Negative Nancy soon becomes only joy, pride, and inspiration.
As negativity is inherently everywhere, balancing it out with positive can be hard. In fact, many times it feels like a never ending uphill battle. The key is that you, as the positive, need to be more stubborn than the negative. You must hold out all hope when hope is seemingly lost. You need to dig your heels in, when everyone else has turned and run. Just remember, an anchor’s job isn’t necessarily to stop a ship from moving. Instead, it’s use can be more profoundly as the center of gravity during a storm. It redirects the boat back to center whenever a wave crashes into it.
Then, when ready, set course a better horizon and eliminate negativity all together!