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4 Ways to Stop Obsessing Over Your Limits and Tackle Negative Thinking

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negative thinking

We can at times feel overwhelmed by the barriers in front of us.  Whether those challenges come from our own faults and oversights, or from the resistance of others, they present a huge frustration, not easily overborne. The only element that we can control, is our outlook. It is necessary to shift our mindset in order to work through frustration and accomplish our goals. 

The following are four ways to help you counteract negative thinking:

1. Be present

Too often we get off-track by focusing on the next step or what we should have done at the prior step.  Save tomorrows worries for tomorrow, and focus on completing the task before you, so that you might inch closer to your goals.  

It may help to gamify your life by looking at successive steps as levels to be completed in an overall objective or mission.  You don’t beat yourself up for not slaying the dragon two attempts ago–you use your knowledge of the location and previous position of barriers to help fortify you at the next turn.  

You can focus on presence by asking yourself what you are resolved to do today. Breathing and meditating are aids to focus your mind on what currently exists. You can meditate and reflect to center yourself, and focus on what’s happening now.

Asking yourself about today, limits your focus to the present, so that you don’t waste time fretting about the past or preoccupying yourself about a future for which you know nothing.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa

2. Stop focusing on conditional statements

Seneca, Stoic and Roman statesman said, “Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.” If you are focusing on what you are missing, what other people are doing, or how much success you would have if X would happen, it is for naught.  You are placing the focus on how certain conditions would make your life great, instead of what you can do.  While it’s good to have goals, this is not the same thing. 

Focus on what you can control. By focusing on conditions that don’t exist and won’t materialize magically, you are effectively daydreaming instead of actually taking the steps to accomplish what you want. When you examine what is within your reach, you can effectively guide yourself forward.

A good way to wake yourself from the reverie of conditional thinking, is to ask, “can I control this?” If so, do what you need to–effectively and without haste. If you cannot control something, then take action on the items within your reach, and forget about everything beyond it.

3. Recognize opportunities when they present themselves as challenges

Thomas Edison said “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” This is not to say that we are averse to hard work, but that our minds miss opportunity because we equate it with obstacle.

When an obstacle arises, sometimes our immediate reaction is to recede within ourselves because we cannot come up with a plan to immediately get past it. We might hesitate, and the longer we take to analyze or look at the challenge, the bigger it becomes.

Instead of evaluating our best methods or direct approaches to the challenge, we allow overwhelm to set in, and we create a greater distance between our problem and our ability to solve it. When this happens, we can first, call it an opportunity instead of a challenge, problem or obstacle.

We can then ask ourselves what scares us about this opportunity. Once we have identified our perceived challenges (usually our notions about our own shortcomings), we can find ways to communicate those challenges and search for help.

For example, if you have a question about your ability to pursue your new fitness goals, you might ask a friend who did something similar what they did to take advantage of that opportunity. You might also find an online community of people who are faced with the same set of circumstances, and discover a host of potential approaches you had not previously considered.

If all else fails, you can research your specific circumstances and seek answers from the gatekeepers. If the response is not one you want to hear, you can use that for insight into future approaches (in other words–don’t give up because it might be as simple as shifting your attitude or approach).

If it doesn’t work out, in the end, you have an experience that has helped fortify and prepare you for other opportunities. Howard Marks, co-founder of Oaktree Capital, and author of The Most Important Thing, echoes this sentiment when he said “Experience is what you got when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.” – Les Brown

4. Doggedly pursue your goals

Once you have identified and outlined your goals, you must unhesitatingly place your focus on pursuing them. When you get rejected, remind yourself that it builds your resilience. When you do not receive a response at all, focus on improving from your last effort. When you have no idea why it isn’t working, evaluate whether your goal truly aligns with what you want from your life, and if it does, continue your relentless pursuit.

Do not be discouraged by a no today, because tomorrow, or 435 tomorrow’s later might await the yes you need in order to proceed with fulfilling your commitment to your life’s work. This is easier said than done. In that vein create a daily reminder for yourself, that encourages you to continue pursuit of your efforts.

What other ways do you stop yourself from obsessing over your limits? Leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Dekera Greene Rodriguez is a writer, lawyer, wife and mom. She writes at grindingout.com, is a contributor at The Huffington Post, and her work has been featured in Thought Catalog and The Good Men Project. You can find her on Twitter @dekerag.

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