Regular readers will know that I started a new career this year, professional writing and editing. Within two weeks I got some work, which was completely unexpected. I had given myself six months. It is a long term arrangement, but this week I found myself with very little paying work.
Obviously this is normal in the world of freelance. In addition, given that I had not expected to be paid for anything for a while, the fact that I was being paid for anything at all should have been fine. Of course, instead of thinking this I completely panicked. My mind went through all sorts of scenarios, my personal favourite being that the work I had already done for them was so rubbish that they were simply dropping me without saying so.
Why is it that we struggle so much with positive thinking? Why do our minds spend so much time ferreting out the worst possible assumption, second-guessing other people’s words to make them into the worst possible version.
Thinking positive is really something I struggle with. However, I’m aware of it and it is something I work hard on. Here are my top tips.
I find that going to the gym is a really good way to unwind. It’s not just the physical exercise and the endorphins, although of course that is very important. It also takes my mind off whatever is vexing me. Simply put, when I feel like I’m going to die on the cross-trainer, I don’t have space to worry about work. It also a very solitary pastime. That may sound silly given that I’m alone all day, but there’s so much demanding my attention at home. At the gym, there is nothing but me.
– Talk to yourself like you would a friend
If you’re anything like me, you talk to yourself. The first sign of madness! When I’m doing this, I find that I have a tendency to be hard on myself in a way that I’m just not on others. For example, despite the fact that I worked hard throughout 2013 to prepare myself for self-employment, I still felt like I did next to nothing. If a friend had done the same amount I did, I would be very impressed. Yet because it’s me, I always feel like I can do more. I try to imagine I am someone else and be a bit more reasonable. Sometimes, it actually works!
– Analyse your behaviour
This is a bit of a funny one. I am aware I think too much, but that is not the same as thinking about my behaviour. Sometimes, I allow little things to grow out of all proportion and whirl around in my head to an insane degree. Yes, it is annoying that my partner repeatedly tips coffee grounds down the sink, particularly as he can’t find it within his heart to plunge it when it blocks. However, is it worth the hours I spend shouting at him in my head, let alone constantly asking him not to. He isn’t going to change. This doesn’t mean that he isn’t being a lazy imbecile. However, I need to take responsibility for my own feelings and refuse to allow it to bother me that much. Again, this is a work in progress. However, there is no doubt that when I achieve this, I am a lot happier.
– Be realistic
As I said earlier, I always feel like I could do more. I suppose, thinking time wise, I could do more. I could be working every hour of the day, from dawn to midnight, and sometimes it feels like I should be doing just that. However, I need to think about my health, and what I really want from life. When I made the decision to work from home, it was to have the freedom to fit work around my life. To go to the gym when I feel like it, to not have to take my free time outside nine to five, to be flexible. Some weeks I will be ridiculously busy, as I have been. Some weeks will be like this. I have to remember that I want weeks like this, and not make myself feel guilty about it.
– Don’t indulge yourself
Sometimes, negativity can become a bit of a hobby. I can find myself revisiting the same problem or irritation over and over again. Don’t. It’s like a diet. If you eat chips, your diet isn’t ruined. You just start again. If you find yourself going round and round, that isn’t an excuse to keep going. Stop. Now!
Do you have anything you do to encourage yourself to think positively? Let me know. New tips are always welcome!