Have you ever been in a holding pattern, waiting on something important? Maybe it’s an acceptance letter. Or a biopsy sent off to the lab. Perhaps it’s whether or not you got the promotion. We’ve all been there, and the in-between can be painful.

When this happens, your mind can move into overdrive and quickly head down a negative path. What if I didn’t get in? What if it’s cancer? What if someone else got the job?

Once you let in negative thoughts, they can quickly lead to a negative thought pattern.

After all, the average person has 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day and 80% are negative. Surprised? Have you ever had a great day ruined by one critical comment? Or attended a fun evening out only to spend the next day focused on the thoughtless words you spoke to a friend?

It can be easy to head into a negative thought pattern, but there’s also a way out. That’s because humans are the only species who have the ability to change their thoughts. The key to a more positive thought pattern starts with these 3 steps:

  1. Switch It Up

The first step is to identify a few foolproof, positive thoughts that can’t lose. We all have them. These are the thoughts that make you light up, sending your energy skyward. Maybe it’s your faith or a memory you’re forever grateful for. Maybe it’s a place you adore or a person you can’t do life without. Whichever you choose, they just put you in a better mood.

Pick 3 – or more – and when your thoughts turn negative, switch it up! Replace each negative thought with one of your favorite positive thoughts. In this way, you can learn to redirect your thought pattern for the better.

  1. Make Peace with What you Don’t Know

When you’re waiting, it’s easy to start making plans for the outcome, good or bad. But this is a trap that can lead you right back to a negative thought pattern.

My grandmother used to say, ‘Man plans, God decides.’ Whether you have faith in a higher power or not, the fact that you’re not totally in control of your fate can be hard to accept. That’s why it’s uncomfortable in the midzone – which is where you are!

Don’t plan for something that may or may not even happen. Instead, make peace with what you don’t know.

  1. Examine Your Thoughts

If you spend time on negative what if’s, it’s possible you can actually will them to happen. ‘Think Positive’ isn’t just a cute saying – it can actually improve your mindset, your relationships, and your overall health.

When you have a negative thought, it’s time to examine it. Ask yourself: is this thought a fact or is it an assumption? Most negative thoughts are actually assumptions. When they hang around too long, they can turn into beliefs – ones you made up yourself!

Table the assumptions and the facts – then your reality won’t be so overwhelming.

Next time you’re in a holding pattern, don’t assume the worst. Instead, follow through with the 3 steps above and work towards a more positive you.