When I was thinking about finding happiness in life, I read an interesting article about self talk towards other people. It said that we should listen to our own words because basically what we say about others is a reflection about what we think about ourselves.
Sounds odd? Well, it isn't. In psychology there is this concept called "mirroring". Simply put it means that we criticize in other people those things that we cannot accept in ourselves.
When you think about the negative words you use when you think about other people, pay attention what you say and what kind of an emotional response your words cause in your own mind.
If you speak negatively about everything, if you judge and are envious - well, you aren't exactly on your way to finding happiness. You cannot be happy if the majority of your thoughts are negative.
So try this: when ever you notice you are judging someone or something, or being pessimistic, try to rephrase what you just said into a positive statement. You might even write down your words for tweaking.
If you find it too hard to find positive words about something you really hate (and in that state of mind you probably even couldn't do the tweaking), try this:
"I don't need to have an opinion about this."
How did you feel? When I used it for the first time my reaction was relief. Strong relief. It stopped the automatic judgement I was about to give. I really did not need to have an opinion.
You might even imagine you are talking about yourself when you judge others. What if that person was you? What would our attitude be then? Could you see how the other person did what they did to pursue their own happiness?
Also no one is purely negative. There is good in all of us.
Finding Happiness in Self Talk
When you notice you are silently explaining things for the worst in your mind, good.
Good? Well, most of us don't even notice what we are mumbling in our mind. If you notice your negative words, you have taken the first step.
Question the "truth" you are announcing to yourself.
Ask yourself how a positive person would rephrase your sentence. How would they find that famous silver lining in the situation? You probably know a very positive person. What would they say?
You may find that your attitude towards such a positive person is even mocking. Especially so if you are used to being pessimistic (or "realistic" as some people call it).
Never mind that. Just think about the words. Could they be true?
Taste the words. Think the situation you are thinking negatively about, and then use the positive words you just imagined.
Do you feel any relief? Even a little? No? Then maybe you are trying too long a jump from pessimistic world view to the Pollyanna-ish positive thinking.
So dilute it a bit. Turn the words over in your mind until you find one little aspect that is positive and you can agree on. Concentrate on that. Just enough to recognize there is a positive aspect, however tiny. And then move on.
Do the exercise a few times per day. You don't need to be a thought-police. Little by little your mind begins to pay attention to your negative self talk and reminds you of the exercise.
Or you might take a little time to work on one negative thought you had that day. Write it down and work on it on paper / computer to turn it into more positive. Sometimes seeing our thoughts written down makes us see them much more clearly.
Steering your thinking to a new direction takes time, it is something you need to keep doing until it becomes a habit.
So when you feel drawn into judging some mundane thing, say to yourself:
"I don't need to have an opinion about this".
When you find yourself judging yourself, think:
"Well, I'm not all that bad, after all."
If you do something and the end result isn't perfect, say:
"Well, I tried. Next time I know how to do this better."
Often people who talk negatively about themselves to themselves are perfectionists. They want to achieve everything, to be perfect. And none of us can do that. If you demand perfection from yourself, you won't be finding happiness in your life. How could you, if you are judging yourself?
Forgive yourself, accept that it is human not to be perfect. And keep tweaking your thoughts into a more positive direction.
Life will certainly feel better that way.