Turning the Negative Positive

If you are a negative self-talker, you may not even be aware of it. Thinking the worst can be second nature after years of doing it. But it can be influencing how you live life and keeping you from being HAPPY!

tumblr_lsu3w4LS7D1qc0yn6o1_500Self-talk isn’t just mindless chatter. It has a way of creating its own reality. Telling yourself you can do something can help it happen. Telling yourself you can’t do something can make that come true – it’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tell yourself you’ll never lose weight and it can be like eating a whole bag of chips. Tell yourself it’s too hard to find another job and you’ll likely watch TV instead of updating your resume.

“Self-talk dictates how you relate to yourself and how you show up for other people,” says Beneduce. Franco Beneduce is a certified life coach and group facilitator in San Francisco. As he coaches people on successful life strategies, he sees how your self-talk (the conversations you have in your head) either supports or undermines your progress toward their goals.

Let’s say you think you have nothing interesting to say. If you keep telling yourself that, other people are going to see you that way, too. In fact, people who think negatively tend to be less outgoing and have weaker social networks than positive thinkers. Multiple studies link positive emotions with more satisfying relationships, more romance, and lower rates of divorce.

Negative self-talk can be a runaway train. Your mind goes around in circles replaying a negative event or your own shortcomings. “People who ruminate dwell on negative feelings,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California in Riverside. You may think that you’re getting in touch with your true feelings, but bad feelings have a way of getting worse the more attention you give them (sort of like a pimple that you just keep squeezing!)

The more you focus on negative events or shortcomings, the harder it is to put them behind you. Research shows that happy people put bad days behind them.

Stop_negative_self_talk___think_positiveThe problem is if negative self-talk came with an off switch, you could just flip it; but it doesn’t. It takes a plan and some work to tone it down.


Here are four ways to make it happen:

  • Distance yourself. You can’t banish negative self-talk forever, but you can take a step back from it. When you notice negative self-talk occurring, Beneduce says address it like you would an opinionated third party. You might say, “Thanks for sharing,” or “It’s interesting you feel that way” and move on.
  • Distract yourself. “Over-thinking involves focusing on a train of thought that goes around and around,” Lyubomirsky says. “You can stop that train of thought by focusing on something else.” Try doing a crossword puzzle, or any other activity that fully engages your mind.
  • How to Begin Handling Your Self Talk and Feel GreatCall them on it. Give your negative thoughts the third-degree and they could crumble. You might ask yourself, “Is that really true?” or “Is there another way to look at this situation?” You may also look for benefits. If you missed that job promotion, are there any lessons for the future you can take from the situation? Or could another opportunity come out of it?
  • Save them for later. Set aside a time of day for negative self-talk. If you hear yourself doubting, blaming, or comparing yourself to others at another time of day, tell yourself you will come back to the conversation later. When the appointed time arrives, your negative thoughts may have lost all their oomph.

Beneduce admits he’s not immune to negative self-talk. When he works with large groups, he knows everyone will be watching him. If he’s on, the day will go well, but if he’s off, he flops. So going in, he tells himself, “I am confident. I have the skills I need. I am going to trust myself.”

Sometimes he’ll write three words on a piece of paper to reinforce it. Throughout the day, he glances at them: “Fun. Smart. Effective.” And that is what he projects.

You can do it, too!


Where are You Going in 2013?

Reprinted from the December issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA.  
Elissa TomasiniWritten by Elissa Tomasini, who also writes a blog about managing chronic pain with resources & support, and information about health coaching: http://chronicpainjournals.com/

I absolutely love making goals & creating plans.  It inspires me to dream & make positive changes to my life.  I can take time to reflect on what in my life is or isn’t working, & look at ways to move in the direction I want for my life.

goals 1

I find that making goals in life works best when it starts with listing out my own values.  This gives me a framework for deciding where to invest my time, & when it might be best to change a course.  Because my values are also about relationships, this helps me to include people in my goals, not just concrete goals around accomplishments.  I include values of self-improvement & character traits I aspire to.  Though these may not be as measurable, my personal integrity is more important than the accomplishments I make.

I have a list of seventeen top values that I have revamped over the years.  My overall mission statement is:  I will strive for growth, healing & deeper spirituality, where I can truly love others, giving joy, grace, & peace to those I meet.  Some of my values include building strong relationships with family, friends & neighbours.  Others are about personal traits such as saying I am sorry, being forgiving, having fun & living a life of integrity.  I also include fitness & health, making a difference, being financially secure & helping people in need.

goals 2Next I start with a free-write (brainstorm) of goals & hopes of what I would like to accomplish.  This might be short-term or long-term ideas, as well as self-improvement type of goals.  I try to avoid thinking too rationally when writing out my dreams, as this is something I will do later.  For some, this might be better done by writing in paragraph form visualizing the life they wish to have, others prefer lists.  It can sometimes help to look around at people you admire, & what are the traits & actions that draw you to them.

Once I have a list of goals & dreams, I begin to group them into categories & time lines for further evaluation.  I will group together health goals, relationship goals, spiritual, personal trait goals, finances, etc.   With each group I will think about what I can do in the next year to make progress in this area.  For relationship goals it might be scheduling dates with my husband, planning some vacations &/or having a game night. For health goals it could be losing weight, going to a new doctor, trying a new exercise &/or meditating self-compassion.

goals 3One thing to remember with goals is that it is about progress, not perfection.  In 2012, I had a list of about 40 goals & I accomplished about 60% of them.  Some of these goals were minor, such as putting pictures in frames & going through donations.  Other goals were more significant like starting my blog & going back to yoga class.  I never did finish doing touch-up painting around the house, but I am okay with putting this off another year.  Even though I didn’t finish everything on my list, I can see that the year 2012 was filled with some new adventures & progress in areas that matter to me.  The other goals I didn’t finish I can evaluate whether this is something I want to reconsider in the next year.  Fortunately, 2013 brings new opportunities.

I am excited for what 2013 can bring & my personal goal of implementing the 15M plan.  For 2013, I am going to focus more on making life style changes in increments.  The 15M plan allows me to make progress even in the more difficult health days, as I focus on spending 15 minutes on the desired activity each day.  Often when I am tired or feeling a great deal of pain, I lay on the couch a good part of the day & isolate.  If I can focus first on 15 minutes of some type of exercise, it is a goal I should be able to attain most days, resulting in less discouragement & better health.  When I am feeling good, I will most likely do more, but on a bad day this can help me shift gears.   I will add other areas that I want to progress in such as writing, family time, cooking & doing chores.

Like many of us, I have goals for improving my health in 2013.  I plan to do some experiments with the types of food I eat to see if they may be adding to my symptoms.  I also will be doing health coaching for other people who want to improve their health.  I hope to be able to make an impact on people struggling with chronic health problems & to give hope.  I want to strive for more consistency in my life, & learn to work around the tough days.

Making goals can be a simple process or something you spend weeks processing & planning.  The most important thing is to make some progress.  Taking 15 minutes to write down 10 goals is a great beginning.  For the artist among us, one can draw or clip out pictures from a magazine instead.  You can post the list on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.  Others may prefer to spend some time evaluating last year, writing out values, & creating a detailed plan for 2013 like I have done.  Finding a buddy to share it with might help keep you motivated & encourage a friend at the same time.

May 2013 bring you some great learning experiences & opportunities.  May you see an impact towards the values you hold dear & be an encouragement to those in your path.

goals 4

Find the Essence Within

Give yourself a gift this holiday season…find the essence within.

chronic comic 172We, as people, are forever attempting to be someone other than who we authentically are. We read an array of self-help books with the idea of attaining skills enabling us to connect with our true essence. Many of us have read it all before and yet we continue to strive to be that being outside of ourselves. Why would we endeavour to change the essence within when perfection comes from our own uniqueness?

Society, our peers, upbringing, education and the media gently, yet effectively, drive us to believe we are not quite good enough and change is desirable. In actual fact, the opposite rings true.

Our authentic self is never lost, only hidden. Some ideas I have personally discovered in order to rediscover the true essence within myself are:

  • Repeat as often as possible, “I am perfect exactly as I am”.
  • Ask yourself, what did I enjoy as a child? Singing, dancing, writing, public speaking, creating, poetry, carpentry etc.
  • Then reintroduce at least one of these activities into your life. Who knows where it may lead. You may meet new friends or create an innovative business idea from something you actually love doing.
  • Ignore societal views regarding age barriers. Who says you cannot be a famous violinist? Did you know current neuroscience research demonstrates that our brain is plastic and forever changing, growing and learning, irrelevant of age. Dreams are not just for the young (or perfectly healthy)!
  • Say what you think and feel (of course, with a splash of diplomacy). It is not your job to tiptoe around others, making them feel comfortable at the expense of your own needs. Allow yourself to be lazy occasionally. There is too much pressure to be amazingly driven and goal oriented. It is okay to do nothing at times, staring into space thinking, dreaming and being vague – this is the space where connection with your inner voice is sometimes heard. Goals can be considered only once you have heard your inner voice, as there resides your base for building your life.
  • Make choices based on YOUR OWN dreams. For example, many find it desirable to own a home; but, perhaps you would prefer to be a resident of the world and rent in different cities. Maybe you would rather own a business and inject your earnings into a creative idea.
  • Be motivated by your soul, not by guilt. We are easily driven off our path through guilt. Guilt is not a good motivator. Guilt is instilled through various means that create a belief system from which we operate in later years. Let us all tame guilt and be free.

You may note a general theme running through the above ideas. You discover you by allowing yourself the freedom to make choices and decisions only for you. It may appear self-centred to approach life in this manner. The opposite is true. People who genuinely love you will be happy you are treating yourself as your own best friend. Your authentic way of life will encourage others to do the same and this will impact on their circles as well.


Reprinted from the December issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA – like it? Subscribe for the next issue HERE


Tell Me About Yourself (or tell you about me)!

WOW!  NZ Cate from Infinite Sadness.. or what? nominated me for a Tell Me About Yourself award.

Thank you so very much NZ Cate. Knowing that some-one reads what I have to say and actually likes it is overwhelming.

Pursuant to the rules of this award, I, in accepting this award, must:

  1. Thank the person that nominated me first and link the blog to that person before you start.  (Which I have done but will quite happily do again – Thankyou NZ Cate)
  2. I have to tell the world 7 things that you might find interesting about myself.
  3. I have to add my 7 nominees.

So, 7 things you might find interesting about me:

  1. I used to work on a cruise ship, in the casino, where I travelled around the Caribbean and Mediterranean. I was able to visit lots of places that I would never have afforded to visit. I drank lots of alcohol with lots of new friends from all over the world. And, I learnt to lower a lifeboat!
  2. I am constantly amazed by my nephew, Zaiden (Z) – firstly, the fact that he came from my brother, Mitch, and his partner, Leora (I mean, I understand the birds and bees concept but Wow! The mingling of egg and sperm created this little hurricane!); the speed with which he learns new things; the way that he has already learnt how to manipulate all of those that love him; and that he loves me almost as much as I love him!
  3. I have a Bachelor of Laws, a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice and have been admitted as a fit and proper person to the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia. I completed these as a mature-age student who was studying, working and fighting depression; AND I did it with Honours! I have to remind myself of this as I sit on my couch, in front of my computer, unable to go to work – I completed one of my goals and I will continue to set myself goals and reach them.
  4. I love to shop – it can be at a shopping centre/mall or on the internet. It can be for me or I can be looking for things for other people. I love to find bargains but I hate to see them go to waste, so I have to alert everyone when I find something REALLY good!
  5. I have had lap-band surgery, from which I lost 35 kilos. But then with depression and fibromyalgia (and their medications), I have gained back 32 kilos. (Not happy, Jan!)
  6. I really, really want a puppy. I know that I can’t afford to keep one (especially if he/she gets sick) but it will make me happy. I will have some-one to pamper and love. I will HAVE to go on walks. I will get to unleash all my cuddles and love on another living creature!
  7. I love lemon cheesecake ice-cream from Trampoline, but they have taken it off their menu. Maybe we can start a petition to get this flavour back, or maybe Mubble Gourmet Ice Creamery will add it to theirs.

And (drum roll, please) my 7 nominees are (in no particular order):

  1. Living Well with Fibro
  2. Find Focus
  3. Falling Out of the Fog
  4. Aspire! Motivate! Succeed!
  5. Looking for a Purpose
  6. Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars
  7. Anguish Me

So, thank you once again, NZ Cate. I feel privileged and blessed (and I hope for world peace!)