How to conquer your negativity and what a positive thought can achieve.
How do you define positive thinking? Where thoughts mingle to the left or to the right and two angles of reason battle together for the winning place. Is it black or is it white? Could there possibly be a tainted amount of clarity, directing you into the misty jungle of doubt? Not knowing the right way to feel falls into the negative. We complain, searching for sympathy and understanding and we blame external forces. We rant, out-spoken for all to endure, fuelled by the thoughts that are consistently in the front of our minds. These can endlessly go on and on. We lack interest in thinking positively as we often view that as inappropriate and annoying. Some of us say nothing, as the thoughts of negativity speak loudly to our inner mind,
We can become the negative naysayer, positively claiming positive thinking is a waste of time, that our lives remain in turmoil however much we try to embrace a positive outlook, believing positive thinkers live within a state of delusion, convincing ourselves that embracing our own state of reality is preferable. Even if we are helpless in creating that reality.
Life is shit and should therefore be viewed as such.’ It is what it is’ and you cannot change it.
I agree, A man loses his job, this is a fact, A woman gets cancer, this is also a fact, you fail an exam, crash your car, fall out of love. Shit happens and happens to most of us. No amount of changing your thoughts can erase the chaos that occurs within your life. The aftermath of tragedies can linger on for years. We carry them around like a bloody heavy load on burdened shoulders. Our negative thoughts trigger an incredible amount of pain, allowing agonising memories to infiltrate our minds and invariably our decisions, turning them spiky and somewhat negative. The danger here is that when we let those thoughts define who we are, we become reluctant to let go and heal. Surely It is our right to express our burdens. This is true, talking about our feelings or even letting off steam can be beneficial. but getting stuck within the realms of negativity will not help us in the long term?
How much should we allow a tragedy to define us?
Social pain, unlike physical pain, can be hardwired into our brains making us re-live the experience over and over in our minds. When we define ourselves by our life experiences, we become that being. The person who defines themselves by the loss of a partner or loved one is in danger of remaining in grief for longer, blocking their ability to see opportunities. The person who loses his job and security and takes on the role of the victim learns to play the role, believing there is no way out of their situation. Defining oneself by our bad experiences can trap us into a negative place, changing who we are and leaving us in a bad environment, often denying us the chance to move forward and to heal mentally from the trauma.
Friends and family will tell you to THINK POSITIVE, using metaphoric advice to help you see a way forward. ‘Life is a Journey’ they will tell you, or ‘Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge.‘ ‘Small steps, time heals,’ and ‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’ Do you feel any better yet? The sad truth is, there is no pill to heal how you feel. You can learn to believe that there is some truth in these metaphors and usually every cloud does have a silver lining if you go looking for it. Once you can do that, the body uses its magic, producing chemicals that are sent to our brains to make us feel better.
If you think that positive thinking is there to heal your problems, think again. Positive thinking is not about manifesting miracles. You cannot undo what has happened to you, however, using the experience to learn how to survive your misfortune can be up-lifting especially when you become aware of the lessons you have received. When you feel you are in a state of chaos, it is hard to see any light, telling yourself no amount of positive thinking will change the situation.
If you seek miracles you may be disappointed. If you think money will land in your bank account because you are overdrawn, no amount of asking the universe will make that happen, however drawing on some positivity will encourage you to seek ways of making more money. Positive thoughts help to heal the negative outlooks we have in our lives. They enable us to see the lessons we are presented with to help us see the mistakes we have made and alternative ways to improve our lives. Positivity gives us the courage to embrace change and seek adventure
What happens in our brains when we produce positive and negative thoughts?
Draw on some positive thinking and what happens in your brain? Feelings of optimism generate calm. Your brain decreases levels of the hormone cortisol (stress hormone) and starts producing serotonin, a happier hormone. A healthy production or serotonin will have you feeling less anxious, less stressed and able to think more clearly, staying focused. It is not a magic pill but natures way of helping us to cope. The human brain is clever, and we should allow it to do what it is good at.
Daniel Goleman author of “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence” believes that by processing positive thoughts and emotions will widen our span of attention, enhancing mental functions such as creativity and cognitive flexibility.
When we focus on negativity, feel stressed, anxious and scared. Have you heard the saying ‘I cannot see the wood, from the trees.’ Processing new ideas yet alone thinking creatively can be hard work.
Brain imaging studies reveal that negative thoughts draw away the energy and activity needed from the part of the brain which controls coordination and quick thinking.
But it is not only our brains that are affected by our negativity. Our relationships with our family and friends can also suffer.
How often have you been in the company of a negative person and afterwards felt they have brought your mood down. We function well in the presence of happy people; they lift our spirits. A negative person will have you looking for a get-out clause, an escape route. You stop calling them and their situation gets worse. For the negative naysayer some close friends and family will listen to your troubles and hopefully point out your negativity. Some will just avoid you.
So how do we control those negative thoughts?
- Use your life experiences, good or bad to make you stronger. Research published in the Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, has shown that life’s negative experiences do make us more resilient. Ask yourself what lesson has been taught to you and how you can use that knowledge in a positive light.
- Change your language. Listen to what you say and notice the negatives. Avoid using words like HATE and phrases like, ‘It’s all going wrong, and nobody cares,’ and ‘I’m worried.’ Predicting that things will always happen for the worst, convinces your brain that they probably will, leaving you in a state of anxiety over something that has not yet happened.
- Meditate on happy thoughts. You may find it difficult at first, but meditating is well worth the effort if only for ten minutes per day. Find your favourite chair and just sit to calm your mind, concentrate on your breath and use ten minutes to focus on positive thoughts. Try focusing on thoughts of gratitude.
- Do things for other people. Help out un-conditionally. Scientific research indicates that by helping others helps you to feel good, it could be anything from doing something small for a friend or volunteering. This will produce a flow of happy chemicals to our brain.
- See the good in everyone. We are often too judgemental of others. We notice the things we do not like first turning us critical. Take your time to see the things you do like and try to be more understanding of any flaws. There is undoubtedly a reason behind them.
- Smile. Not only does a smile make you appear friendlier it is not that difficult to do. People will respond to you by smiling back in most cases. If you do not feel like smiling, try doing it anyway. It is only a few muscles in your face and costs you nothing to do. Tell yourself a joke or search for humour in a situation. Your brain will believe you are happy and start producing those hormones that will lift your spirit.
- Be Grateful. A gateway to a positive mindset is to appreciate and be grateful for what you have. There is a link between gratitude and happiness. Make time to write down three things you are grateful for every day and turn this into a habit.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. A good diet and plenty of exercise will enhance your mood. Bingeing on junk food and alcohol will keep your mindset in a low place. If you need to lose a few pounds and achieve results, you can end up on a high. Go for walks, swim, join a gym, weed the garden. Endorphins are the rush of hormones that leave us with a sense of achievement. Pat yourself on your back and say well done.
- Learn to listen. How many times have you heard people say, ‘He only ever talks about himself’ You can be so self-absorbed in yourself and your own problems, you do not hear that others may be going through a lot worse? Perhaps someone has some good advice for you, but you fail to hear it because your mind is only thinking about you. When you listen, try and show interest by asking questions about what the other person is saying. It shows you are paying attention.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Positivity can be infectious, the same as negativity. Positive people are great to have as friends especially if you are in need of support.