How to Keep Your Mind Where You Want It to Be

Photo of Frederick Claflin

By Liz Scala

I had another email sent to me from a nurse in response to one of my articles.  Her comments struck me; “I try to push out negative thoughts instead of letting them fester – that’s hard.  I find I am sucked into conversations with coworkers about our negative experiences and I try to tell them ‘Let’s replace these discussions with the good, positive ones instead’.”  

Do you ever struggle with this?  You are doing your best to be upbeat but someone at work is always trying to drag you down.  A nasty comment here, some gossip there, and before you know it you are roped into an all out complaint session! 

Since I’ve started on my journey of healing, at times, I feel like an outsider looking in on the “cool” group.  I feel as if I am strange or weird.  I’ve been through many life changes.  I quit my job and began working with topics I was more passionate about.  I re-found exercise and healthy eating.  I practice stress reduction techniques.  I am happier and healthier than I have been in a long while; and my thoughts and feelings reflect that!  However, it is not always easy.  At times I feel very alone.

One afternoon I was hosting a barbecue/meeting for my Nurse Practice committee.  Co-workers were sitting outside on my patio while I was in and out preparing food and making sure things went smoothly.  I noticed when I sat down with them I started to feel fed up and irritable.  They were constantly complaining, gossiping, and talking negatively.  They were going on and on about everything that was wrong with our unit.  I couldn’t stand it.  I then realized amidst my life changes and my progression towards healing; I was leaving behind those who were still where I used to be.

This happens often.  I notice the scowls on people’s faces, bad moods, and negative energy.  I hear the complaints, gossip, and groaning.  I wonder, “Is it really that bad out there?”  My answer is, and continues to be, NO.  There is so much beauty in the world.  Nature is an awesome and amazing gift.  Children play and babies laugh and smile.  Volunteers and service people give of themselves unconditionally.  We are fortunate to have what we have and should reflect on this every day.  We should be grateful for our blessings and keep our minds upbeat and positive.  Easier said than done; right?

Here are 7 Tools I suggest to keep Your Mind Where You Want It to Be:

  • Meditate:  Make it your practice to take some time each day to sit quietly with yourself.  Observe your thoughts and let them go.  Even 5 minutes is worth it.  You may not notice any changes immediately, but slowly things will shift for you.


  • Breathe: When you are around negative people take a moment to focus and breathe.  Take a slow, deep breath in and out through your nose. Clear your mind and body.  Fresh air will slow you down and replenish your cells.  Exhale out all the negativity as you exhale your breath.


  • Excuse Yourself: Sometimes you just have to get up and get away from the conversation.  Take a couple of moments to yourself or splash some water on your face.  Then come back and try again.


  • Say Something: This is tricky and may take practice.  If you find yourself around a lot of negativity and gossip see if you can shift the conversation by speaking up.  Mention an objective observation; “My, we sure are complaining a lot today. Let’s see if we can focus on each other’s strengths for a few minutes.”


  • Repeat An Affirmation: If you are unable to speak up or remove yourself from the situation; try bringing a mantra to mind.  Try something like, “I am confident in the joys of life to see me through.”


  • Learn From the Group: Know that each experience you have in life you are meant to have.  Every part of your journey only makes you stronger.  Each conversation or group you are involved in is teaching you something.  Maybe they are teaching you patience!


  • Change Your Scenery: Find a new group to be around.  Sure, those people you work with or have known all of your life will always be there.  But join a club, volunteer group, or work association where people are involved in things you like to do, who are positive people, and who are on their own healing journey. 


Editor’s Note: Liz Scala writes about Health and Wellness twice a month for AMSDaily. You can visit her newly designed blog at Living Sublime Wellness to read more on these topics.  Subscribe to her website to get your free daily meditation audio and a journal gift!