It’s hardly surprising that thoughts relating to the current pandemic are difficult to avoid. Here in France, schools, cafés, restaurants and all non-essential shops are closed. Rules have been laid down about what to do or not to do to protect ourselves from the virus.
Young people of school age have been told that they must still follow the curriculum; this is not a holiday. The only way they can do that is by logging on to the education system where they should be able to find the lessons they’re expected to follow.
The system has crashed, these national websites simply don’t have the resources to cope with demand. They were not setup to manage a pandemic and 100% distance learning. There is over 11-million young people in the primary and secondary education systems in France.
I can’t say what the statistics are but there will be a considerable number of young people at home alone today because their parents must work and are unable to work from home due to the nature of what they do. One of my own daughters has said, “there is no point, I can’t do anything”. That however will not be her experience. I have scuppered her escape plans with a positive programme of learning and am working to get her to reframe her negative “can’t do because” attitude.
Overcoming such thinking is a challenge that takes conscious awareness and a committed effort. Difficult for a thirteen-year-old who sees a Netflix binge as a positive solution because there will be plenty of time to work later.
Negative thinking comes from fear and that develops from insecurities. Our daughter sees school as a place where she is dependent on the input from teachers for her academic learning. She hasn’t yet developed the ability of self-directed learning and needs a hand to hold.
AKA negative thinking in psychology is when the mind convinces us that something isn’t true. In this case, my daughter is convinced that academic learning is dependent on school, she can’t do it on her own. She believes it, even though I have patiently pointed out that this is not true. Unfortunately, her thinking is polarized. The situation to her is black or white, no online lessons, no other option, no middle ground. If left unchecked, this minor setback will become a major irritation and negative thinking will lead to flights to Netflix.
Her thinking is based on one piece of evidence. She has formed a conclusion by overgeneralizing that a schoolteacher needs to teach school lessons. It doesn’t matter that her evidence is weak. In a sense, she has given up before I’ve shown her that there are other possibilities.
Erasing The Negative
While the idea of challenging negative thoughts can be scary or intimidating, they can be positively challenged by reframing the thoughts that reinforce them by asking pertinent questions about where the thoughts come from and what gives them fuel.
Once we know where the negative thinking comes from, we can start to recognize the triggers that create those negative thought loops and stop them before they start by adding positive solutions. Looking for the positive will lead to the destruction of the negative.
Just as it’s true that we can’t love another person if we can’t love ourselves, the same is true of questions. We are great at asking challenging questions of people in our worlds, especially when we want to know why they do what they do. Before we can challenge anybody else, we need to be able to ask ourselves probing questions and answer honestly.
Asking why we responded to something negatively and finding the answer is the way to discovering positive solutions. When we find those our outlook changes. We can’t ignore the negative thoughts or tough questions, doing that solves nothing.
Take A Distraction Break
When negative thinking becomes difficult to manage, it’s common for other, even non-related negative thoughts to swarm. When this happens, a break into a positive activity is the best way forward. Take a break, go for a walk, listen to some uplifting music, create distance from the negative and return refreshed. Our minds are powerful and it’s not unusual that solutions are often found when doing something completely different. A change really is as good as a rest.
Distracting from the negative does not come with a one recipe fits all solution. We need something that fuels passion in ways that return happiness and positivity.
Evict The Irrational
Negative thoughts are often irrational even though on first impressions they may not seem that way. They distort reality. Positive thoughts come from our real, confirmable strengths, experiences or qualities and they can destroy the negatives. Looking courageously for the positives within and accepting that you are enough is the only rational way to go.
Human beings often judge. Think about it. We judge ourselves, judge others, judge what we consider to be less than our ideal. The more we do that, the more we generate more of the same and become dizzy in negative feedback loops.
STOP! Look for the positive or redeeming in every situation. Choose to shine a positive light. It is a choice. Find the silver lining in every situation and celebrate how grateful you are for discovering it. It’s a remarkable way to release the negative baggage that stunts the growth of success.
It’s Not Easy . . .
To get a thirteen-year-old to see that there are other ways is challenging. For an adult to see the positives in years of negative challenges is difficult but possible. We can reframe negative thoughts and emotions and the starting point is understanding where they originated and how we can redirect the negative and channel them into positive energies.
It’s easy to allow current events to suck us into downward spirals of delirious despair yet the opposite is true if we choose to seek the positive.
Tools That Help
Relating to these there are plenty of tools that can help with your Personal Growth and Development. If you would like a free 20-minute coaching session on some of these, please leave your contact details in the comments and you will receive a prompt response.
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Comments and Questions
Leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.
I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy
Peace & Light
Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, friend and clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg.