Fear v/s Gratitude: How to Avoid Negative Thoughts?
Hey everyone, hope you're all doing well. Those of you who are active on the social media handles of Non-Engineers must have seen a short form circulated today which asked you to fill-in two simple statements:
I'm afraid that......
I'm grateful for......
Some of you might have wondered why I asked you to take up this exercise, others might have resonated with these words and expected some guiding light at the end of this tunnel.
Let me share something very critical with you. Yesterday, I was having a conversation with one of the blog members. She was really worried about her future, so many thoughts coming in her mind that it felt as if it was so difficult for her to come out of that negative loop.
I honestly felt so helpless. I was able to relate to her. There have been times (and so many times) when I've not been able to avoid my negative thoughts, when I've just wished there was an escape. So, I conducted this small exercise today to share some points with you on how we unknowingly end up thinking negative things in life.
It's Okay To Have Fear
Before I share the intent behind the exercise, let me clarify that it's perfectly fine to be afraid of the future and the uncertainties that it brings along.
But, what is not fair is to remain in those worries all the time and neglect your present. So many times I've made the same mistake and if it wasn't for some loved ones around me, I would have probably remained in those thoughts forever. So, if you feel you constantly worry about the future, this post is for you.
Fear vs Gratitude
If you haven't filled the form, you can do the exercise right now before you read further. Take a moment to think of the things you are:
afraid of (your fears)
grateful for (silver linings)
The reason I asked you all to complete the two sentences was for you to note three things:
How much time did you take to think of your fears vs the things you were grateful for?
How many fears did you list vs the things you were grateful for?
How elaborately did you talk about your fears vs the things you were grateful for?
I cannot answer the first question for you, only you know the answer to it. But, if I were to speak for myself, I would probably take less than a second to think of all my fears. They're just so rooted in there. But, when it comes to the points on gratitude, I would probably take some time to deeply think about it.
For the second and the third questions, I have 100+ responses backing the hypothesis I had. Those who filled the form went on to list several things they were scared of or worried about:
and the list went on..
Many respondents even mentioned a couple of their fears in one long sentence. Whereas, the list of gratitude was pretty short, mostly limited to:
The same was the case with the elaboration of fears v/s points of gratitude.
The longest response for fear was 882 characters (166 words), the same individual had expressed his point on gratitude in 448 characters (65 words), which, by the way, was the longest response for gratitude as well.
So, out of the 100+ respondents, no one used more than 65 words to express gratitude whereas at least 39+ respondents used 100+ words to express fear.
Our Mind is a Muscle
Think what are we feeding it?
You're not the only one. A vast majority falls into this trap (and please count me in). We all end up sticking to the negatives more than the positives in our life.
The exercise was neutral. I never said you have to build on your fears more than your points of gratitude, yet you chose to do so. This is an indication that you might be feeding negative thoughts to your mind more often than you realize.
I read in a book - The Four Agreements (also shared about it on social media) that our mind is a muscle, the more it practices any habit, the better it becomes at it. If you practice thinking about your fears or thinking of the negative aspects of your life, you're going to get better at it.
But, the upside is that if you practice the other way round i.e. the positive aspects of your life, by repeating what you're grateful for, every single day, you're going to instill yourself with positivism and your mind is going to get better at it.
Last Few Months
The last few months have not been easy for me. There were major problems that I had to deal with and I won't deny - it's a negative thought process I've been dealing with since the last couple of months.
But, when I encountered the same thing yesterday and saw the same happening to a blog member, I felt like putting across what helped me overcome it.
Three things that helped:
(and are still helping)
Sharing it with someone - I feel blessed to have some people in whom I can confide. By sharing your problems with others (especially the ones who're willing to present an alternate point of view; often not our parents) really helps. Some people around me have really been my support throughout.
Journaling - I've started writing about my day - not at any specific time, but whenever I feel like I'm overwhelmed with positive or negative thoughts. I feel writing helps me understand myself better. Sometimes, while writing I realise my own mistakes, e.g. I noticed that initially I always complained.
Watching positive people talk - This is probably a very simple thing to do but the inertia playing against it is so strong. Let me share a beautiful video I was watching a couple of days ago that had such a positive impact on my thought process. This video is about Radhi Devlukia Shetty:
Meditating - I didn't list this under the three points because I just started practicing this. But, I've been meaning to add it to my routine since a long time. Right now, I'm using an app called Serenity to practice meditation. It's very basic to use and free of cost. You can try it.
Guys, when I was reading your responses, it ached to see that many of you fear failing in exams like CAT or during B-school interviews. I cannot tell you how important your mental health is vis-a-vis these goals in life.
Take my case, I have cleared that exam and studied at a B-school many of you mentioned in your fear section, yet I faced the issue of dealing with negative thoughts. I still do at times.
So, I cannot emphasize enough on the fact that you need to take care of yourself first and everything else later. And to be honest, I've noticed a difference in the last couple of months and now, when I feel much better. It has significantly improved my professional life as well.
Working on yourself will help you with your other goals too. So, don't neglect it.
If you feel you face a trouble dealing with negative thoughts, try the things listed above. And if you're someone who faced this issue earlier and successfully overcame it, please do come forward and share what you did as it can immensely help others. We have at least 100+ people with strong fears reading this.
Hope it helps.
Post Category: Inspiring Stories