Thinking positive when your chips are down
Is your glass half full or half empty?
Our thoughts have a very powerful effect on what we do. It's easy to feel down or be negative when things don't go our way.
Getting caught up in negative thoughts affects your mood and health. It can also effect your relationships - people don't want to spend time with Negative Nancy or Pessimistic Peter.
Everyone has negative thoughts at some points and several common thinking styles are:
Catastrophising. You think about what could go wrong and the worse case scenario. You ask yourself "what if" questions.
Filtering. You tend to focus on the negative aspects rather than looking at the whole picture.
Blaming. You tend to point your finger at yourself or someone else when something goes wrong.
Black and white thinking. You tend to view things as all good or all bad. There is no middle ground.
Positive thinking doesn't mean that we ignore the 'bad' aspects of a situation, pretend everything is fine, or stick our head in the sand. It is thinking in a more positive way and viewing a situation differently.
Self-talk is the inner voice within your mind. It says things that you do not necessarily say aloud. Often self-talk happens without you being aware of it. Positive self-talk (or positive thinking) makes you feel good about things and about yourself. Negative self-talk (or negative thinking) makes you feel pretty bad about yourself or what is happening. Some examples of negative and positive self-talk are:-
NEGATIVE SELF-TALK POSITIVE SELF-TALK
"I am hopeless" "I am good at some things and try my best"
"This is going to be terrible" "What have I got to lose?"
"I can't do this" "I'm going to give this a shot"
"There's no way that this will work" "I can try and make this work"
"Nothing's going to change" "I accept the things that I can't control"
Positive thinking is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you're stuck in a rut. The very first thing is to become aware of your thoughts and notice which of them are positive and helpful, and which are negative and need to be changed. If you try some of these strategies, the way that you think and feel about things might improve - you are more likely to see the positives and your overall wellbeing will improve.
Laugh. Try and see the funny side of things even when things seem pretty bleak.
Change the negative thought to a more positive one. Ask yourself questions such as:
"Is the way that I'm thinking helpful?"
"Am I only paying attention to the negatives?"
"Am I being too hard on myself or blaming others?"
"Am I jumping to conclusions?"
"What is the effect of thinking this way?"
"Is there anything that I can do about this situation?"
Focus on what you can change. Look at the things that you can control and do something about them. Let go of the things that you can't control.
Surround yourself with positive people. Spend time with positive, supportive people who you can rely on for advice and encouragement.
Praise yourself. Acknowledge your achievements and quiet your self-doubt.
Read positive or inspirational quotes. Choose two or three quotes or statements that resonate with you and display these quotes where you will see them (e.g., in your diary, on your desk, fridge or notice board).
Get moving and eat well. Healthy eating and regular exercise helps us to feel less stressed and improves our overall wellbeing. When you're feeling better in yourself, it is easier to think in a positive way.
Do the things that you enjoy. Doing something enjoyable or fun can help you to feel better, less tired and to think more clearly and positively. For example, going to your favourite café or restaurant, reading a book, taking a warm bath or meeting up with friends.
Meditation. Mindful meditation and other relaxation techniques can help you to feel calmer, less stressed and clear your mind. With a clear and relaxed mind you are more likely to see things differently and to use positive self-talk.
Keep working on it. Using positive thinking takes effort and practise. Persevere and things will get better.
Get help. Sometimes you might need professional help. Don't be afraid to ask.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
- Wayne Dyer
However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
- Stephen Hawking
What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
Remember, think positive but keep it real.