Negative Nancy: We all know one. In fact, some of us are guilty of becoming a negative Nancy ourselves. Anytime something goes remotely wrong, these individuals curse their bad luck and wait for the rest of the world to come tumbling down. They expect the worst and view the glass as half empty.

Does this sound all too familiar? If you’re thinking, “Man, that sounds a whole lot like me,” it’s probably time to challenge your negative mindset. Doing so will require you to change your thoughts, actions, and environment. You can accomplish this mission by…

  • Acknowledging your negative mindset
  • Understanding why you think negative thoughts
  • Choosing new thoughts that benefit you

Now that you have an idea of what we’re doing and where we’re headed, we’ll delve into these three steps for challenging your negative mindset. Matthew Solomon—a Love and Happiness Coach who specializes in relationships and communication—takes the lead.

1. Acknowledge your negative mindset exists. 

As with most things, you must first acknowledge what you’re doing wrong before you can make it right. “Notice your thoughts, notice the patterns that play out in your life, and notice the impact of these thoughts and patterns playing out,” Solomon says. “In other words, what are the results you have in your life by having this particular mindset? And not just the tangible results, like how much money is in your bank account, but also the emotional results, like how you feel emotionally.”

It’s not always easy to recognize when we’re sitting in a negative mindset. It takes practice and a lot of patience. However, allowing yourself to start in little ways will have a snowball effect on your positive and negative thinking. Plus, you’ll begin to improve your overall mental health.

2. Understand what your pay-off is for having this negative mindset.

Now it’s time to explore why we are assuming this negative mindset: Are we benefiting in some way from being a negative Nancy that isn’t obvious at first glance? Say, for example, we enjoy the sympathy we receive from others. Solomon explains: “Of course, most of us say and believe that we want things to be better; we want more money, a better relationship, etc. However, not having those things has hidden benefits for us; we get to stay stuck, we aren’t expected to do more if we are dealing with some sort of struggle, or it may be as simple as we receive sympathy and attention from not having enough money, or from being in a horrible relationship, or being alone and not in a relationship at all.”

Maybe you’re familiar with the saying “misery loves company.” Most of the time, it’s true. Without even realizing it, your negative thought patterns could be directly trying to make someone else feel negatively too. If you’re down, why shouldn’t they be too, right? Little habits like these can be acknowledged over time and corrected.

3. Choose new thoughts and be consistent in replacing the old ones. 

Finally, we need to continuously work on bringing positive thoughts to the forefront as opposed to the negative. You can accomplish this mission by focusing on what you want out of your life: “Once you know what you want and are fed up with having what you don’t want, you can begin to affirm your new desires. Affirmations, visualizations, and activities that support your new and positive mindset are how you re-program yourself,” Solomon explains.

“Consider that it will take time and attention to do this. You didn’t get to where you are now by simply making one choice; you made that choice over and over again for however many years you have been struggling. So, make your choice, create affirmations for yourself, and repeat them out loud seven times per day. Visualize your desired outcome first thing when you wake up and the last thing before you go to sleep. And lastly, find the people, groups, and environments that support what you are up to in your life. You are not going to achieve new results by having the same thoughts, taking the same actions, and being in the same environment.”

Here are a few bonus tips for replacing old bad habits:

  • If you find yourself saying something negative about someone running down the street, try replacing those thoughts with compliments. Try saying, “Good for them! I haven’t gone on a run in so long. Maybe I should make time for one this evening.”
  • When you’re at work, and a coworker starts talking loudly while you’re trying to concentrate, try removing yourself from the situation to combat negative thoughts and a negative reaction.

Remember, practice takes time. When you reap what you sow, you’ll feel better mentally and start to feel more confident about what you think and feel. Say goodbye to Negative Nancy and hello to a happier, healthier you.