Have you ever decided that you are tired of your own negative attitude and decided that you wanted to cultivate positive thoughts instead only to have those old negative habits creep back up on you? Negative thinking is persistent. Just when you think you have gotten rid of those pesky negative thoughts, they seem to pop back up again like weeds in a garden. Why is that, and is there a way to prevent it?
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Is There a Way to Prevent Negative Thoughts from Growing Like Weeds?
I have had a garden for several years. Most of the time, I do a great job growing grass in it. The greenest, healthiest grass in the world was found in my garden for several years. All that watering, and not caring to take the time to pluck it out. Who has time for that anyway? Plants can still grow with grass, right?
The few vegetables that I did get from my garden were rather scrawny and did not taste that great. However, this year, my garden looks different. This year, I have a raised bed garden for the 3rd year in a row, and it is remarkably grass-free and my vegetables are looking quite promising. What is the difference?
How I fixed My Garden and My Thought Patterns
For one, I took my past experiences and I used them to learn from. Among the nice little tidbits like “Don’t plant squash and cucumbers close together because you end up with something that we dubbed “squa-cumbers” and “cuc-ash” that taste terrible.” I learned to not overcrowd the plants. I also learned that in addition to watering it, that grass is not going to pluck itself. The grass takes away water and nutrients that the plants need, so I have to pull the grass out of my garden.
You may be wondering what my gardening experiences have to do with positive thoughts. They seem like totally different subjects, don’t they? They actually are not. I have had this re-occurring thought as I weed my garden that negative thoughts are just like that pesky grass. Our minds are like that raised bed garden of mine. Our thoughts are in their own separate space but left alone negative thoughts will over run it. Last year, I did leave the garden alone. I turned it over to my son, who was very enthusiastic about the idea at first, but never got around to weeding it.
Our positive thoughts are like the vegetable plants in my garden. The negative thoughts are the weeds and grass. It’s very easy to grow grass in a garden. You just water it and leave it alone. Negative thoughts, like weeds, pop up in our heads without any prompting. They are also invasive and can take over. When your negative thoughts have taken over, you will generally see the “seeds” of worry, anxiety, and depression if left long enough. That’s not what I want to cultivate. So how do you cultivate positive thoughts?
1) Prepare the “Soil” of your mind by weeding out all the negative thoughts that you can find.
Like my garden, you first have to prepare the soil. One of the very first things that I did when I was getting my garden ready this year was that I picked out all the grass that I could get. It was not perfect. That’s ok. I knew that there were still some grass seeds and roots in there. Like that grass, negative thoughts often have deep roots that most likely come from insecurity. Pull up all those roots that you can and get rid of them. Identify your insecurities. What are you insecure about? We all have insecurities, but you cannot address them unless you know what they are.
Write them down. Yes, seriously, write down your insecurities. This could look like “I don’t think I have the knowledge to do ____. Or “I feel like I can never do as good a job as __ at __. Or “I don’t feel like I’m pretty enough. I’m scared that I will say something to __ and embarrass myself.” Think of something that you are always telling yourself that is not so nice and may or may not be true. “I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m not successful.” Write all those hard things down. Don’t skip this step. There is a good reason that I put it here.
If you prefer a printable for this, I have one in the freebie library.
Now that we have the weeds pulled and our negative thoughts identified…
2) Decide What Kinds Of Positive Thoughts You want to Grow
Before I planted anything, I had to decide what I wanted to grow. I settled on tomatoes, potatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers, and cantaloupe for the garden. Now that you have prepared the soil of your mind by identifying your negative thoughts and your insecurities, you need to decide what positive thoughts you want to cultivate. The best way to do that is to base them off of your insecurities. It might look like “I have the knowledge to do __.” Or “I will learn to do __ by __.” “I am smart enough to __.” “I am good enough to __.” “I am pretty. I love my __.” Or I know that I can say __ to __ without embarrassing myself.” What do you want to be more confident in? What do you wish that you could do better? Use these questions to contradict your insecurities.
Write them out beside your insecurities that you wrote in step 1.
3) Plant your Seedlings of Positive Thoughts.
Read your list of Positive thoughts. If you have not heard of “affirmations” before, this is what you have just written down and they are personalized to you to best combat your insecurities. Pick the ones that speak to you the most. Which ones hit home the hardest? Those are the ones that you need to concentrate on. For now, I suggest picking only 3 or 4. Do you remember that I said that I decided to only grow a few things in my garden? I’ve tried growing everything I could think of before, and for a beginning gardener, it was too much to maintain and the whole garden suffered because of it. It was just too much work to maintain. The same goes for these affirmations. If you try to fix everything at once, it will become too difficult to maintain, so just pick 3 or 4 max. These are the ones that you will commit to working on.
4) Maintaining Your Positive Thoughts.
In years past, I failed at maintenance. It got too hard to go out and pluck the grass out. It was too hot to water it, or I thought of some other excuse. When you are trying to cultivate a positive mindset, this is by far the hardest step. Maintaining takes effort over a long period of time. However, if you get in the HABIT like you have gotten in the HABIT of thinking negative thoughts, the positive ones get easier.
I will let you in on a secret. When I first planted my vegetables, it seemed like I was plucking a ton of grass out every day! That grass represents your negative thoughts. Because you have been in the habit of thinking negative thoughts, they spring to mind very quickly at first. You will have to be vigilant about plucking them out and contradicting them with those positive affirmations you just wrote out. Write those affirmations down somewhere where you will see them. Put them on the refrigerator. Leave them beside your alarm clock (or your phone) so that you see them first thing in the morning. You see friends, our minds are wonderful things. They believe repetition and when they get good thoughts put in over and over, they start to act on them and believe them. In other words, you start unconsciously making them true.
Every day, I watered the garden, and while I was watering, I plucked out any grass I saw. It was hard at first. Some of those pieces had some deep roots, just like our insecurities do. But I kept pulling. Not only was I plucking the grass out of the garden, I found that when I envisioned them as negative thoughts, weeding the garden became fun!
5) Watching your Positive Thought “Vegetables” grow
Gradually, as I started to build a new habit of positive thinking, I noticed that the negative thoughts started not popping up as often, and when they did, they got weaker and weaker. The grass that grew in my garden started echoing this. It does not pop up as often now, and it is much easier to pluck out. It only takes a few minutes to pull it. As I kept watering and weeding, I see my vegetables growing. Do you know what those vegetables represent? Actions! Go back to your trusty list that you wrote out. Look at the very first part with the insecurities. Now jot down the actions that those insecurities were resulting in. Can you see what is/was holding you back? Those insecurities were resulting in actions or inactions that were/are holding you back.
Now, look at your other list. (The affirmations one.) Write down the positive actions that you will take as a result of this new mindset.
Pretty powerful difference isn’t it? What difference could these new actions and new found positive mindset make on your life?
(Ok.. if you have not made a list yet, get a piece of paper out and go back and do it. Writing it down makes it much more powerful.)
6) Reaping the Harvest in Your Life
Positive thoughts are powerful, not in themselves, but in the fact that they result in actions. Your insecurities and self-doubts hold you back. That’s not the goal! Friends, I want you to be happier, more successful, and just overall a much better you than you have ever been before. I want you to be happy. I want ME to be happy too! Just like my garden, when you put the work in, you get a harvest. A harvest in this sense is the positive actions that you take based on your new mindset and outlook. Changing negative thoughts to positive ones is not easy. Negative thinking is a bad habit that is very easy to fall into. However, like any habit, it can be broken. I can’t wait to see what you can do with your new positive thoughts! For me, I feel more at peace, I worry less, and I feel more passionate and motivated about the things that are important to me.
My garden symbolizes my switch from negative to positive thoughts. My garden was once overrun with weeds and grass, just as my mind was overrun with negative thoughts. Negative thinking is an easy habit to fall into. If that’s where you are at, then don’t despair. You can decide to change it. You can decide to develop a new, healthier habit of positive thoughts.
- Prepare your “soil” by pulling out all the weeds of negative thoughts and insecurities. Write these insecurities down.
- Decide What kinds of positive thoughts you want to grow. Write these down as well. They should be the opposite of the insecurities.
- Plant your seedlings of positive thoughts. Decide which 3 or 4 positive thoughts (affirmations) mean the most to you. Focus on those first and put them on paper or on your phone where you will see them every day.
- Maintain your positive thoughts. Read those affirmations every day. Our brains take repetitive input and subconsciously try to make them true. You want to feed it good input! Contradict any negative thoughts that pop into your head.
- Watch your positive thoughts grow. Slowly, day by day as you read those affirmations and contradict any negative thoughts that pop into your head, you will be building a different, healthier habit of positive thinking. At first, there will be many negative thoughts. Slowly, but surely it gets easier, so keep at it!
- Reap the harvest in your life. Our thoughts fuel our actions. Most likely, you can identify some actions or inactions that stemmed from the insecurities that you wrote down in step 1. By restructuring our thoughts, new positive actions will follow. Make that call, take the leap, do what you are scared to do.
I want to hear from you!
Changing your thoughts from negative ones to positive ones takes time and consistency, but I know that you can do it and that your life will be the better for it. I would love to hear your success stories, your challenges, or anything else that you would like to share. Leave me a comment below, or email me at Jennifer@jenniferw24.sg-host.com. Have a blessed day and happy questing!
P. S. If you need a more detailed explanation of the process I outlined, or you would like more in-depth training on how to reset your thoughts to be more positive, Jen Winsor over at wavesandwillows.com offers a free 3 day email course on mindset reset training, that I have personally gone through. 🙂 It consists of a video and workbook for each day.
9 thoughts on “Cultivating Positive Thoughts”
Wonderfully detailed post! I’ve always loved the gardening metaphor for positive thoughts too. I also use it somewhat for a focus on gratitude on my blog! (: The one thing I carry with me wherever I go and have control over 24/7 is my mind… so it’s important to cultivate it in the best way possible.
Thank you and very good point about your thoughts being with you where ever you go!
This is such a great article! Our thoughts are so important in shaping our perspective and negative thoughts have a big impact on life. Thanks for sharing this!
Thank you so much! I love your blog as well! ( I discovered it yesterday.) You write with such a unique perspective.
I have just found your blog recently. You are a very gifted writer. I really love how you broke it down into steps. Sometimes my negative thoughts seem so overwhelming but this helps me to have a game plan to take it a step at a time and the gardening metaphor really helps me see how it all works together. Thank you! God bless!
Sharon, I cannot begin to describe how your sweet words touch my heart. Thank you for the compliment on my writing, as well as telling specifically what parts that you found the most helpful. In so glad that you found what I wrote helpful. I will be praying for you. God bless and thank YOU for brightening my day!
I absolutely adore the gardening metaphor Jennifer! It’s perfect. And I love that you shared how a positive mindset takes time and effort and can be a lot of work but it so worth the reward. It’s a continuous journey. But goodness is it ever wonderful! ?
Sara, if I had a little heart button for your comment I would be using it multiple times. Thank you so much for your heart-felt comment. You have made my day!
I’m so glad! ❤ You made mine too ?