How important is the power of positive thinking?
Well your thoughts affect your emotions and your emotions affect your behaviours this translates into whether or not you have a positive experience and how you view the world at large.
The power of positive thinking can not be understated.
Back in 1919, a young cartoonist was fired from his job at a Kansas City newspaper. His editor told him he wasn’t creative enough and he should look into working in another field.
Had the cartoonist listened to his boss and given in to negative thinking, then the world today would be without the huge success that is Disney.
Walt Disney was a master of positive thinking he said he ‘always liked to look on the optimistic side of life.
He also said
'First think, second dream, third believe and finally dare'.
If your life is full of anxiety and depression than this can seem an almost impossible thing to do, but I know it can be true I have seen it played out many times in my counselling room.
Through my work as a counsellor I truly believe in the power of positive thinking and I do not think it should be underestimated.
The difficult part is being able to believe that it is possible.
We have 2 internal voices the voice our mind talks (our unconscious voice) and the voice with which we speak to our mind.(the conscious voice).
All too often our unconscious mind speaks much louder than our conscious mind.
By working on the voice that speaks to our mind rather than believing everything our mind talks then it is possible to move yourself to a more positive mindset.
The power is in making your conscious voice louder than your unconscious voice.
If you tend to have a negative outlook, don't expect to become an optimist overnight.
But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance.
You may also become less critical of the world around you.
When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you're better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way and this can also contribute to other mental and physical health benefits helping you to keep on moving into a positive mindset.
Here we focus on 3 ways to start thinking more positively
Obviously this is just a starting point but if you can practice these daily you will start yourself on the right path, but only if you allow yourself to believe.
Lets begin a journey where you Decide To Be Happy
1. Reframe your thoughts
If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, a good place to start is to identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about and begin to focus on the positives of that aspect of your life.
Like everything we need learn the basics and practice before we can be build on our learning and become successful at something. If you tried to change your whole life in one go you would be overwhelmed.
Focusing on an area of life that you feel is contributing most to your unhappiness or negativity is a good place to start.
The problem we have is that our brain is still programmed to respond to negative emotions the same as it did back in cave man days when life was much simpler and our only real threat was possibly the sabre toothed tiger.
Now our world is surrounded by things we perceive as threatening, the news stories we hear, 24/7, war, pandemics, family crisis, work stress, the cities we live in, riots, the list goes on.
Our primitive emotional brain finds it difficult to handle all this negativity, threat and fear surrounding us.
stressed about work
fearful of your boss
hating the long commute to work everyday
Unhappy in a relationship
Angry about something
Annoyed with someone
Unhappy with your weight or health
In an area where you are feeling unhappy or have negative thoughts about it your brain will focus on the negative emotions of fear, anger, stress, sadness etc
Introduce positive self talk about that area of your life and reframe your thoughts about it.
Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself.
Some examples of moving Negative Self-Talk to more Positive thinking
I hate everything about my work
There are aspects of my work I like and I am good at
Everyone hates me
I have friends so I know not everyone hates me
Everything I eat makes me fat
I enjoy this food however too much may be unhealthy for me
Reframing your thoughts to be more realistic leads you to start thinking more positively about that aspect of your life
2. Introduce positive affirmations into your life
Positive affirmations are positive phrases that can be repeated over and over to teach you how to get rid of negative thoughts and encourage a positive attitude.
Affirmations are designed to encourage an optimistic mindset. And optimism in itself is a powerful thing. In terms of reducing negative thoughts.
Positive affirmations require regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel.
Writing your affirmations down in a journal and practicing them in the mirror is a good method for making them more powerful and effective (Alexander, 2011).
There is MRI evidence suggesting that certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al., 2016)
Can positive affirmations help Anxiety and Depression?
Positive affirmations are not designed to be cures for anxiety or depression, nor are they a substitute for clinical treatment of those conditions. But they do help with your cognitive restructuring, ie reframing your unhelpful thoughts
Some examples of Positive Affirmations
1. I am surrounded by amazing friends and family;
2. I am resilient, strong, and brave
3. Nobody but me decides how I feel;
4. I accept and love myself, thoroughly and completely.
5. Through courage and hard work, I can achieve anything that I set my mind to;
6. My body is amazing just the way it is, and I accept myself this way;
7. I am kind and good to the person I see in the mirror;
8. I deserve to see myself as amazing;
9. I forgive others for sometimes doing the wrong thing, and I forgive myself when I do the same;
10. My anxiety does not control my life. I do.
These examples of positive affirmations used regularly are capable of reversing negative internal messages and motivating ourselves.
Coming up with your own affirmations that have meaning to you and fit with your morals and values can have more success due to your personal connection to them, so you could try writing some of your own.
If you feel uncomfortable with positive affirmations you may want to start your days with inspirational quotes or positive messages, these can also help you look at things from a more positive aspect.
Start every day with a positive affirmation or inspirational quote
In my Facebook anxiety support group I post an inspirational quote every morning to get the day started in a positive way.