Why am I not getting enough likes, comments and followers on Instagram? Did I walk a thousand steps today? How many calories did I burn? Why wasn’t I invited to the weekend getaway? Did my presentation go well? Why did my colleagues ignore me this morning?
These and similar niggling worries and resentments may seem reasonable in the moment but the truth is they cease to matter within hours, and chances are most of us will have forgotten this stuff and moved on with our lives; in all likelihood, to fresh concerns that will also likely be of little or no consequence but nonetheless torment us for short periods of time.
When we are deeply absorbed in thoughts that do not benefit us in any significant way, day in and day out, we are derailing our capacity to give the best of ourselves and lead a more fulfilling life. We spend days preoccupied with things that drain us mentally, as if our larger emotional baggage — guilt, regrets, low self-esteem, fears, anger issues, etc.— aren’t enough to pull us down.
A good way to overcome these unwarranted thoughts is to do as the spiritual teachers and life coaches say — let go. While it’s not always easy to disengage from our real mental burdens, we can stop fretting and fuming over small issues that take up so much of our time and energy almost every single day, and consume us with self-doubt.
We can learn to push back against unnecessary worries by telling ourselves that they’re not rational and that we have bigger problems to deal with both at work and in our personal lives. We can challenge those thoughts by asking ourselves two simple questions.
Is there a valid basis for my worry?
Does it benefit me in any way?
The answer in both cases will surely be no.
We can stop dwelling on negative emotions by redirecting our thoughts and seeing positive outcomes in most events and situations.
For example, instead of obsessing over how many likes, comments and followers we have on Instagram, we can think of ways to write unique and compelling posts that will expand our audience.
Similarly, we can shift our focus from “Did I walk a thousand steps today?” to “I walked 800 steps today but I’ll up my game tomorrow”.
We can replace self-doubt, as in “Did my presentation go well?”, with a dose of self-confidence “I’m really happy with how my presentation went and I can’t wait to ace it next time.”
When we consciously and repeatedly choose a positive attitude over negative self-talk, we do several things at once – we boost self-confidence and encourage a favourable perception of ourselves; we are better prepared to face challenging situations head-on; we reduce stress and anxiety, and consequently, become more mentally agile; and finally, we learn to practice an optimistic outlook on life that influences the way we think and act, and helps us balance our lives.