How do we maintain positive thinking in our lives? Does it sounds easier said than done?
This isn’t just about telling ourselves things are “fine” or repeating phrases and affirmations like “today is a great day”. How we think, feel and respond can have a huge effect on our emotional and physical wellbeing. It enables you to be less stressed, to keep your cool in difficult situations.
When we start to think positively we are re-wiring our brain. We create new neural pathways in the brain so that eventually, thinking positive becomes automatic.
Positive thinking does not mean that you never have a negative thought or unpleasant feeling ever again! We do have to recognise difficult, hurt, upset feelings. Pushing them away or pretending that everything’s “fine” is not a good strategy.
Earlier this year I had a couple of clients who had both had deaths in the family. They were trying to stay positive about things and whilst they were looking at it rationally they were saying “they were old, they’d had a good life, they were tired or in pain”. All this is true but there is still a loss and that can still hurt you. You are entitled to feel pain, loss and upset. This is part of a grieving process when we have suffered a loss of any kind.
This is also true with other negative situations. If someone treats you badly, if you are hurt your emotionally or physically. Maybe you’ve had a different kind of upset, not getting a job / client / contract you wanted, sometimes it might be more about disappointment or being let down by someone. There can be a ton of ways we can feel hurt, upset, worried.
It’s important that you allow yourself time to recognise that loss and pain and allow it to be there. If we constantly try to forget or ignore it then it will just build up and spill over as anger or something else
Try to recognise when you’re feeling hurt, in pain, badly treated and find a little time to allow yourself to cry or be upset. However, it’s not about wallowing in self pity and sinking into a place of doom and gloom!
Why Do We Focus on The Negatives?
Listen as Emma dives into some tips on how to think positively and explains that negative thinking is a survival instinct.
We are wired to notice the negatives in order to keep us safe. The thing is that in today’s world many of those things that we worry about are not truly life or death situations. There’s no bear or tiger chasing us! So it’s a matter of perception.
Negative thinking can become a habit. You see one negative in a situation, then another and another. If you are constantly thinking of all things negative then your brain and body becomes stressed and this can lead do more serious problems. It makes everything you do so much harder to achieve. It can lead to illness and even burn-out (check out episode 12 for more on one of my client’s experience of that!).
How Do We Create Positive Thinking?
Thing is that we can train our brains to notice more of the positives in life rather than the negatives.
Thinking positively, leads to us feeling positive emotions too. That in turn means we will naturally see more positive situations in our lives. That also leads us to take more positive action too.
Ever known people like that? Whatever happens they come up smelling of roses? This is why! But you can create that for you too!
List 5 Things You’re Thankful or Grateful For
Take 5 minutes each morning, evening, on your journey home to think about your day. Pick out 5 things that went well for you. Maybe it’s something that was good. It doesn’t have to be big things. It might just be you are grateful that you had an umbrella when it rained, or thankful that one meeting or phone call went well. That the sun was shining. That you had a good idea about xyz.
Even better is if you write these down. Keep a separate note book for the 5 things each day. That way you begin to see the positive things build up. Also if you really struggle one day, then you can look back for prompts or notice that even if there’s nothing in that day, then it’s not every day that like that!
Keep Things in Perspective.
It’s so easy to have the last hour of the day to difficult or things go wrong and then be telling yourself it was a rubbish day! Reality is that getting things in perspective is helpful.
My girls would come home from school saying it was AWFUL and when we talked and unpicked things it usually meant that they’d struggled at the end of the day (probably because they were tired or something) but they kept that negative bit in their mind (as we do) and believed the whole day was awful. We would find a few things that were good – even if it was a nice sandwich at lunchtime!
Turn Negatives Around
If you are telling yourself something is too difficult or I’ll never be any good at xyz then you’re going to be negatively hypnotising yourself into believing that. Start to listen to yourself (episode 2) and turn this around. Instead of I can’t do maths you can have
Even though I struggle with maths, I am having a go.
Instead of “This is going to be so difficult to be able to do xyz Try
Even though xyz might be challenging, I will work through this
People often develop affirmations that they regular say to themselves each and every day if it’s something that comes up a lot for them. The trick with these is that you do have to believe them. No point saying something and a part of your mind is going oh gosh what a load of rubbish!
Surround Yourself with Positive People
I once heard someone sharing that they’d got a promotion and the response they got was “oh god, how much more travel with your have to do?” How negative is that! No congrats or well done. You don’t need these people in your life, or you definitely need to minimise the time you spend with them or the impact they have.
I talked about this too in episode Y. When you are surrounded by people you lift you up and who also talk positively and in encouraging ways we naturally pick up on that language and the vibes that it gives out.
Do Positive Activities
By taking part in activities that release feel good chemicals and give you positive times that you can write down into your 5 a day list. It all helps enhance the positive circumstances and thoughts you have.
Or visit your happy place! I talked about this is episode 1. Going to places that give you happiness and positive feelings is a good thing. You can do this in real life or by visualising this place in your mind.
It really doesn’t take much to re-wire your brain, but you do need to be fairly consistent. It’s like anything, when we learnt times tables or even learning to drive, we had to think about it first then it becomes more automatic. It doesn’t happen overnight, but in the scheme of things, you can still do this in a few weeks or a couple of months. That’s got to be worth the effort right?
So which one of these do you think you can do this week to start being more positive? Drop me an email or a comment below and let me know!