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Mind

Top tips to rid negativity from your new year

Life coach Domonique Bertolucci reveals how to reset your mindset to make 2024 your best year yet!

Choose a positive perspective

The first thing you need to do if you want to detox your mindset and eliminate negativity from your life is to choose a positive perspective. When you have a positive perspective, you can see the best in each situation you experience, each person you encounter and even in yourself.
Choosing a positive perspective doesn't mean you should turn a blind eye to the negative consequences of a situation or that you should be naïvely optimistic. Instead, I like to think of it like one of those tourist viewfinders you see at landmarks and lookouts. You can rotate them a full 360-degrees and then when you see something that interests you, you can zoom right in. Choosing your perspective is about choosing which part of your picture you want to focus on.

Stop worrying

When you worry, you are thinking about something that might happen – a potentially negative experience that may or may not occur. But no matter how much energy you put into your worries, you will never change the outcome.
Worrying won't change anything except your ability to enjoy your life and to be truly present in it.
If you want something to go well or turn out for the best, it's not a bad idea to consider, and understand, all the ways it could go wrong. But this line of thinking should be treated as a risk assessment and not the main focus for your thoughts. Think of it in much the same way as you would when you take out an insurance policy. Whether it's for your home, car or a trip, you're investing in your policy in the hope that you never actually need to use it.
Once you know what the risks are, and what you would do if they became a reality, it's time to park that knowledge, and spend the rest of your time and energy doing whatever you can do to support the outcome you really want.

Focus your attention

If you want things to turn out well in your life, this needs to be the outcome you focus on and where the majority of your attention needs to go.
In order to get clear on your intentions, you need to ask yourself, "What do I want to say, and how do I want to feel about who I am and the life I live?" It's your answer to these questions that will act as your compass and help you move your life in the direction you want it to go in.
When you focus your attention on your intention, you are directing your energy towards what you want, rather than wasting it by thinking about what you don't want, or worse, simply letting what you do want fade away.

Stop focusing on people’s faults...

... yours as well as everyone else's. Everyone has different values and no one value is more important than another. When you find yourself judging someone's choices, what you are really doing is judging them for having different values to yours.
For example, all the different ways people raise their children. While we each have different approaches to the details of how we parent, we are all trying to achieve the same outcome – well-loved children. The details of how people do things differently stopped bothering me because I realised that was all they were – details. The outcome we were all trying to achieve was exactly the same.
Instead of wasting precious energy and engaging in the negativity of what is essentially a version of "my way or the highway", remind yourself that, as adults, we are all free to live our lives in accordance with our own unique set of values.
Rather than criticising others for theirs, refocus your energy on honouring yours.

See things compassionately

It can be extremely frustrating when things don't go your way through no fault of your own – and it's even worse when it feels like someone else is to blame. The truth is that most people are doing their best most of the time. Someone else's "best" might not be up to your standards – it might be compromised by something else going on in their life or it might still be in its development stage.
Whatever the reason, it's unlikely they were intentionally trying to make you angry or cause you stress.
When you find yourself in a situation like this, it can be easy to rant and rave, but it's rarely worth it. Whether your anger is outwardly expressed or bottled up inside, the only person it's really hurting is you. Instead of raging with frustration, make the decision to be compassionate. When you accept that most people are doing their best most of the time, it becomes much easier to practise forgiveness and find the acceptance you need, to exhale and let the whole negative experience pass on by.

Positive opportunities

Look for positive opportunities in every experience. Even when life throws things at you that you would toss away if only you could, you still get to choose how you experience them by looking for the opportunity the experience has created.
If a friend cancels your plans at the last minute, you can instead enjoy an evening of me-time. If it rains when you were planning a picnic, you can spend the afternoon playing board games or watching a movie marathon. It's a lot harder when the situation is more serious or when the stakes are higher.
I am not a fan of the expression "everything happens for a reason". While it might look cute on a fridge magnet, I believe it's a trite expression that brings no comfort to anyone who is experiencing serious misfortune, heartbreak or tragedy. Yes, these things have occurred for a "reason", but that reason is factual or scientific. If you've been made redundant or laid off at work, the reason is that your company could no longer afford to pay you or justify having someone in your role. When someone dies of cancer, the reason is that the disease was stronger than the treatment. When a marriage ends because of an infidelity, the reason is that the betrayal was deemed unforgivable.
I don't believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that we each have the opportunity to find our own reason and meaning in the things that happen.

Leave gossip at the door

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people."
Every time you gossip, you are actively welcoming negativity into your life.
At the time, and in the moment, focusing on someone else's mistakes and missteps can feel like entertainment, especially when it offers a welcome distraction from the highs and lows you might be experiencing in your own life, but finding entertainment in other people's misfortune is never healthy.
While you might enjoy the short-term high that comes from thinking, "Well, it's not all bad – at least my life doesn't look like that!", this negativity will only ever give your self-esteem a false boost, one that is bound to expire the next time something that makes you feel inadequate comes along.

Focus on your strengths

It's easy to fall into the habit of constantly criticising yourself or comparing yourself to others and finding that you come up short. But instead of running the list of things that are wrong with you on an endless loop in your head, make the decision to accept any flaws you have and shift your focus to your strengths instead.
You might not be perfect, but there's a lot that is good about you.
Take the time to make a list of your strengths, positive qualities, successes and achievements. Although you might want to start thinking about your list right away, this is not intended to be just a mental exercise. Write down all the things that are great about you, your positive qualities, things you've done well and things you feel proud of, then continue to add to it.
Once you have your list, keep it close by – your wallet, bedside table or even your phone. Somewhere you can quickly find it and refer back to it whenever you're having a down day, could do with a boost and need help nudging your negativity out the door.

Accept that you’re going to make mistakes

Now that you've elevated your mindset above the negativity that is generated whenever you engage in gossip or sit in judgement of other people, it's time to accept that you will make mistakes too.
No matter how hard you try, you're not going to get everything right. You're going to mess up, get things wrong, hurt someone's feelings or let someone down. When this happens, instead of berating yourself and dragging yourself down with a barrage of negativity and self-criticism – forgive yourself.
Accept that mistakes happen, then look at what you can learn from this experience so that you can make sure this mistake never happens again.

Journal prompts

  1. Think about something you have been worrying about. Instead of worrying, is there an action you could be taking or a shift in perspective you should be making?
  1. Think about a time when someone disappointed you or let you down. Knowing that most people are doing their best most of the time, how might you reframe this experience?
  1. Make a list of your strengths, positive qualities and personal achievements. Don't limit your list just to big things – the goal here is to create a long list, so include as many things as you can think of.
Edited extract from 9 Step Negativity Detox by Domonique Bertolucci (Hardie Grant Books, $27.99).

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