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.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Stop thinking about what everybody else has and what you don’t have. This is negative thinking.
Stop losing sleep over what others have and what you don’t.
Here’s the truth: there is always going to be someone who has a better paying job, lives in a nicer house, drives a fancier car and goes on more exotic holidays, thats life.
Comparing yourself just makes you miserable and unhappily preoccupied about what others consider success.
I'm not saying you can't aspire to be like others-if aspiring to be like your hero in business or you want to cook like your favourite chef or have the body of a body builder, this is not unhelpful if you are focusing on your own success rather than being jealous of the success of others.
This is different to comparison
A better way to figure out "How am I doing?” will be to look at what is important to you personally, what is going to make you personally happy
It's about focusing on self-improvement rather than one-upmanship,
Define your own success instead of comparing your success with others.
Positive thinking means that we can find the happiness in the things we have and make the most of what we have right now, it means cultivating optimism that can help us to see how good things can be and this can lead to achieving our beliefs and dreams.
Quoting Walt Disney to finish
here is part of a speech he made
I decided to see every day as a new opportunity to be happy.
That day I found that my only enemies were my own weaknesses.
I say don’t make your own weakness the inability to think positively.
Laura Knight is a qualified and experienced Counsellor and a registered member of BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
She is an approved Anxiety UK Therapist and has her own private practice SeeClear Counselling, in Poole Dorset.
She can offer face to face, telephone and video counselling sessions
Laura also spent some time working with Dorset Mind delivering education to local employers on how to identify and manage stress at work reducing the impact that work stress can have on people's everyday lives.
Laura found that many of her clients would present with Anxiety and because of this enhanced her training to include CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) as there is evidence to suggest that CBT is effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Laura now focuses on working with adults who struggle with Anxiety within her private practice, working with them to reduce the scary physical and emotional symptoms they experience and help them change their negative thinking patterns so they can lead a calmer life.
For more information about Laura please visit her website https://www.seeclearcounselling.co.uk
Or visit her Facebook page https://facebook.com/seeclearcounselling
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 07975733029