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!

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Change Your Mind

thinkingMind power is a phrase we hear constantly and most of us acknowledge its importance but we really have no idea of the infinite capacity of our minds. We only use 10% (and my 10% is full!) and the rest is hidden, even from us. The remaining 90% is subconscious which means we only have the rest to ‘think’ with.

That 10% can be used for conscious mind power, the kind we can make use of on a daily basis to make our lives more dynamic and rewarding.

To harness mind power, we need conscious awareness and choice.

Meditation

This doesn’t have to be formal. Anything which stills the mind and helps us connect to our inner selves counts as meditation. The more we relate to our higher wisdom, the better we can de-clutter the rubbish from our minds and the desires of our hearts. I watched Elementary last night, where Holmes is forced to go to Rehab meetings…even he said that we have a finite amount of space in our brain, so we shouldn’t fill it with rubbish!

67. meditationYou can meditate to music, a beautiful scene, a colour, a guide. All you need is to relax and feel the silence within. Insights will come and, hopefully, a sense of calm and peace. You can use this time to visualise a person, situation or object you desire. Visualisation is very powerful and is a wonderful way to harness mind power. By seeing yourself in a future scenario but feeling it as achieved, you bring the desired closer. Although using mind power is about focus and concentration, so is meditation and the latter is an effective way to practise these skills. Both need discipline.

The more in tune you are with your higher self, the better you will manage your life in every area. Tuning into your intuition is vital for mental health and a happy life because your brain is full of faulty information and your emotions will lead you astray but your inner wisdom is always pure and right. If you sit quietly and ask, you will get answers. The mind is not your brain. The mind has many aspects and by trusting the instinctive messages you receive when meditating, you will feel the power you have at your disposal. The more you learn and practise, the more you will trust it and see proof of its positive impact on your life. The clearer your mind, the better will be your choices, feelings, decisions. The mind regulates your emotions as well. A lot of people don’t know that. That’s why they say they can’t help how they feel. Actually, we can decide how we want to feel and how we want to react to that feeling. Surely knowing why we do things is crucial – our conscious choice – rather than lurching from one self-defeating act to another.

Affirmations

Positive statements to affirm the life we want are a very powerful tool because they literally change our minds. Decide which area of your life is not working for you then write yourself an affirmation that you can use as a mantra. Say it faithfully without judgement or expectation and results will begin to show in your tangible reality. A lot of people give up after saying an affirmation for a week or two because nothing appears to be changing but that’s where faith comes in.

Before we can understand how to use affirmations to effect positive change in our lives, we need to grasp the role of conditioning and the mind’s power. Right from when we first come into the world and start to operate as part of a family, initially and then in the wider society, we absorb words, attitudes, ideas, thoughts, feelings and energies from all around us. Sad to say, many of these will be negative as we live in a fear-based society. Many of our well-worn adages are created from a fear of lack and loss, such as “Money doesn’t grow on trees”, or “Waste not, want not.” I’m not saying these proverbs aren’t true, but they engender negative ideas which form our sense of reality. This early conditioning stays with us all through our lives and just think about how many social ills can be traced back to these beliefs – racism, sexism, ageism, bigotry of all kinds, discrimination, limitation thinking, all kinds of fear, addictions, self-hatred, hatred, violence, crime and, of course, war. Now try to imagine a world in which positive affirmations form the basis for our belief systems and think how different things would be. If you’re already thinking this is “too good to be true”, there’s another negative belief! What about “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”? Life was meant to be to be easy – if we would only let it be.

Okay, we can’t cure the world’s problems, but we can do something about our own individual lives and, hopefully, influence others positively in the process. What I’m suggesting is that if we can learn negative thoughts in childhood, through the attitudes of our parents, teachers, friends and everyone around us, we can just as easily learn positive ideas, or, in the case of adults, we have to unlearn first. We can achieve both processes at once by using positive affirmations to wipe out the old negative ideas, replacing them with new fresh ones of our own choosing.

For an affirmation to be effective, you need the following conditions:

  • use the first person singular, “I”, when saying them
  • only use the present tense
  • they must be said with conviction and repeated often
  • they must be specific
  • write your own if possible and keep to one area at a time
  • phrase them simply

Here’s an example of how you might put these rules into effect. Let’s say you want more money in your life; it’s no good saying the words, “more money would be good” as that just constitutes a wish. For it to be an affirmation and for it to work, you need to use “I”, then put it definitely in the present and say how much you want but phrasing it as if you already have it. So it would be, “I have $50 more a week in my pay packet”, or “I have $2000 in my savings account.” It’s no use just saying, for instance, “I have more money” as you might then trip over a five cent coin which would fulfil your affirmation! You might have to repeat your affirmation like a mantra for months or even years, depending on how much pre-conditioning you have to break down first (I have been using ‘I am skinny and beautiful’ off and on for years – I’m still hoping my mind catches on to this!). Others might change your life overnight. This also tells you a lot about which ones are your most entrenched beliefs.

You need to suspend your cynicism, impatience and attachment to outcomes if you are to work successfully with affirmations. You might feel silly at first, saying, “I am a wealthy person” when you know quite definitely you are not! But by saying this statement over and over, you are changing your thoughts in this area of your life and the reality of your life will also begin to change.

old-lady-wheel-chair-ballerinaPick the issue you want to work on most urgently then write an affirmation of your own that suits the need. Keep saying it constantly – in the shower, in the car, as you’re cooking, all the time. Out loud is best but when not possible, run it in your mind. Affirmations don’t have to be in the form of words. You can affirm in mind pictures which is more like creative visualisation and that works very well for some people. You can also live your life as one extended affirmation, by actions and thoughts in general which enhance your blossoming beliefs.

Affirmations require faith and self-love but most of all, deservability. Without these components, you cannot change your life for the better. You can also say group affirmations such as “My family is well and happy.”

Here are some areas of life that can improve with the help of affirmations:

  • Health: “I have a body that works perfectly.”
  • Job: “My job is enjoyable and pays me well.”
  • Money: “I have all the money I need every day.”
  • Relationships: “All my relationships are positive and joyful.”
  • Future: “My future is bright and safe.”
  • Life: “My life is continual bliss.”

These are generic ones that you can use to make a start but if you have a specific issue such as a particular relationship that needs healing, write an affirmation for it such as, “My daughter and I get along beautifully together” or “My boss values my work.” The more you affirm that your life is good, the more it will be. It’s about taking responsibility for your own life and making choices about the way you want that life to be.

Manifesting

One of the clearest ways to see the effects of positive mind power is in the area of manifesting. We hear a lot these days about “the laws of attraction” and how they can be used to manifest our conscious and subconscious desires. It works best for me when I think of something I want then forget about it. It just turns up in its own time. When we try to control the “how” and the “when”, it doesn’t seem to work, perhaps because we’re not letting go and letting the Universe do its job. Positivity involves trust in Self and the goodness of life. Synchronicity cannot be controlled. It’s magic and to connect to it, just set your mind to getting what you want then let go.

Using visualisation and affirmations, you can, of course, manifest more deliberately but still it’s no use holding your breath waiting for the Universe to deliver. Attachment to outcomes can actually delay the very thing we want, not to mention that we don’t always want what’s good for us! Stay positive no matter how long you need to wait and it will come.

Positive Thinking

think

Using the power of your mind, you can turn negative into positive, whether it’s in the form of worrying, bad habits, addictions, toxic behaviour or unhealthy relationships. All these can be turned around by sheer will and determination.

There’s a lot of myth surrounding this philosophy. It’s not about burying your head in the sand and saying everything is wonderful. It’s about finding the gift within the unpleasant, the tragic, the disappointing and so on. There’s always a gift – always – sometimes very obvious, sometimes hidden. Seek and you shall find!

You can also manifest your wishes, be healthier and happier, feel empowered and make positive choices in your life. This only requires the confidence that comes with exercising your immense power both in your mind and in your soul. Something is only good or bad because you think it’s so. When confronted with hurt, betrayal, loss, illness or anything else you don’t like, decide it’s okay and it will be.

I think I can! I think I can!

I think I can! I think I can!

You have huge power that is accessible every day of your life, in good times and challenging times. There are many ways to harness this power and make it work for you. The benefits are huge. No matter what your nature is, you can achieve a positive mental attitude by deciding that’s what you want then practising every day to reach that goal.

As Donald Trump says, “If you have to think, think big.”

 

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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.

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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.

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