Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to the doctor, health care specialist where you weren’t seen on time, when you did get in for your appointment it was cut short, leaving without any real answers to your health concerns or guidelines to follow. Perhaps you were sent home with a few prescriptions of medications with no explanation as to how they were going to effect your body and how they might be of help regarding your health concern. There is something that I want to Share with YOU: Is a guide or a roadmap so to speak in learning some key principles that will empower you firstly to begin taking better care of yourself. Understanding and trusting your inner voice, your intuition. Because deep down there is – No-one is Better Equipped to Take Care or Control of Your Life than YOU!!! This will help you in achieving a healthier you, choosing the right people to support your journey to building a healthier, happier and more vital life.
What I have Come to Realize and Understand
Early in my life I came to learn that if I didn’t take care of ME: I wouldn’t be very Happy. I would be Sick: Being Sick is something that I hate with a Passion.
If I was sick then I couldn’t engage with other people in my life: Be of purpose and contributing within their lives. Also by being Sick, I wasn’t able to do the things I wanted.
I also became aware that no-one else was with me 24/7, the only person who was, was me. So if I didn’t lay down positive foundations for Caring for myself, if I did need some help there was little that could be done if I hadn’t cared for me.
Bringing to Your Mind Positive Thoughts about Caring for YOU
Positive thought patterns for Caring for Yourself, allows you to Take Charge and Control of your Life. Just by changing your thought patterns in this way will instantly have you feeling happier about your life.
Steps that will Help you – To Change the Way you Think and this will Change Your Life
1. Understand Your Thought Patterns
It is important to have an understanding as to how negativity can become an (unintended) entrenched part of your life. As humans we are hardwired to avoid danger and to seek pleasure. If we allow the danger avoidance aspect of our thinking processes to become unbalanced by being too risk averse, too apprehensive or too reluctant to give things a go, we can suffer from a propensity to worry and feel anxious more often than not. Coupled with the fact that how we view the world and interact with it affects how the world responds to us, if we choose to highlight the negativity, and then we tend to view most events in the same light, giving the negative greater meaning than the positive things that happen within and to us. It is a known fact, a brain that has become so used to thinking negatively may cease to see positive events or to feel positively at all after a time because it simply translates everything in the worried, anxious and negative ways it has become habituated to. A negative person will often choose to see a setback where a positive person will see an opportunity. But don’t despair––every person is able to strengthen the positive side of him- or herself and that’s the purpose of the rest of this article.
- Make a decision to think for yourself, taking responsibility for your attitude. You experience about 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts every single day of your life. And they’re your thoughts––nobody controls how you feel and think unless you let them. This might seem like a very challenging idea if you’re used to taking on board the emotions and preferences of other people but it’s as much a choice as not letting the feelings of others be the tune you dance to. Own up to the reality that your feelings are something over which you have control. That means deciding to conquer the negativity that is going on around you (and there will always be plenty of negativity––it’s a social default mode). Think of what you can do today that is good for you and others that is positive and constructive. Decide how you will react in ways that will make a difference to your life instead of allowing people and situations to dictate what you think and do.
- Take Charge of Your Thinking. People will often make things seem more important or worse than they really are. By not allowing yourself to be moved into danger are that has been enhanced by anxiety, over taxed emotions: instead taking time to think it over to find an answer that works for you personally. This will allow you to feel less pressured to become a part of the stressful activities. In turn this will help you to stay positive because you will feel a greater sense of control over your life and your choices.
- Identify Negative Thoughts – To be able to shift away from the negative thinking (often calling “stinking thinking”) that is holding you back from having a positive outlook, you’ll need to become more aware of your “automatic negative thoughts”. When you recognize them, you’re in a position to challenge them and give them their marching orders, right out of your head. Here are some commonplace automatic negative thoughts that can take up residence in your mind over the years, seemingly acting like normal thoughts but undermining you all the way:
- Black and white thinking: Everything you encounter either is or it isn’t; there are no shades of gray. Therefore, if something doesn’t turn out the way you want it too, everything must be bad because nothing can be salvaged unless there are gray areas. It’s a great one for procrastinators––”Since I’m not likely to get this done in time, why bother trying at all.”
- Personalizing thinking: It’s obviously something you did, it’s always something you did, isn’t it? This is the way someone who is used to taking on board other people’s feelings thinks––”Betty didn’t smile at me this morning. I must have done something to upset her.” Occasionally maybe you did upset her but you’d really know if you truly did, like telling her to her face that you don’t like her. Rather, this thinking is about all those times when you haven’t actually done anything active to cause someone to feel hurt or dislike but you still choose to think you must have done something, then personalizing becomes negativity.
- Over-generalizing thinking: This bugbear of the thought world is about assuming that things are never, or are always, a certain way. This is a way of scolding yourself into permanent inability, such as when you say something like: “I always stuff up these tests. Why would today be any different?” or “She is never wrong, therefore it must be me who is wrong.”
- Filter thinking: This is when you choose to only hear the bad, negative message within something communicated to you. For example, your boss might have praised you on a job well done but mentioned a small area where you might make a few changes next time. Your poor boss is trying to help you identify where you could fix just a few minor issues and you’re too busy turning this aspect into an overwhelmingly damning criticism, failing to see the gigantic praise that came your way. This is a way of belittling yourself, big time.
- Catastrophe thinking: Oh dear, this is where the sky is falling in, to quote Henny Penny. This is when you can’t think of anything without assuming it’s all going to end in doom and gloom. For example, you might think that your entire family will be hit by a bus during the day, all because you didn’t kiss them goodbye. It’s unrealistic and it is very exhausting to keep thinking this way
- “Other people should” thinking: This is really unhealthy thinking, the stuff that the media keeps referring to as “a sense of entitlement”. This is the kind of thinking whereby you think that “other people should” be a certain way toward you, without you having to reciprocate in any way. It may involve silently muttering to yourself about how dreadful other people are to be so thoughtless. It often involves telling yourself unhelpful things like: “She should be nice to me”; “He should hold the door open for me”; “They should be more helpful when I give my presentation.” Maybe people should or shouldn’t do things according to the standards of etiquette or their job description but letting their lack of coming to the party rule your thinking will ultimately demoralize you. You can’t (and shouldn’t seek to) change other people, you can’t make other people do anything and your best bet here is to stop thinking like this and to get on with what you can do and thereby set a good example instead.
- Magical or fortune-telling thinking: Gazing into your crystal ball that actually looks backwards and decides the future according to what you’ve experienced in the past, you discern that things aren’t going to work. For example, you might say to yourself: “This friendship is bound to fail, just like my previous ones.” It probably will, because you’ve just rubber-stamped the outcome in your mind, and you subconscious will do its best to bring about such a failure, so as to prove yourself right. Very sticky, unhelpful thinking.
- Mind reading thinking: The reverse to “other people should” thinking where you think others should read your mind and deliver your preferred actions on a platter and similar to personalizing thinking, mind reading thinking can be devastating. In this instance, you start reading other people’s minds and making up what they’re thinking. For example, “I can tell she doesn’t like me” or “I can tell that he’s more intelligent than me” are just an example of the mind-reading messiness that can occur when stuck in this negative thinking rut.4
- Start questioning yourself on your negative behaviour and attitude. Ask yourself why you’re resisting or producing the habits or attitudes that you dislike. Stop each time you catch yourself in a circumstance that brings about negativity and doubts. Stomp on that stinking thinking! This is actually about increasing your awareness of the choices you’re making with respect to thinking, so while it might feel a little weird to begin with, noticing your thoughts almost as if you’re an external person looking in, is a very helpful way to begin rearranging them more constructively, so that they work for you and not against you. For now, identification should be your main focus; you can start to make changes soon enough but only when you’re comfortable recognizing the thoughts for what they are.
- Writing down your thoughts and feelings: Many people find it very helpful to keep a thought diary and it’s recommended that you try this too. By recording your daily thoughts, you can actually see a pattern develop right before you that shows a string of positive or negative thoughts. Write down thoughts and feelings as they loom large and try to spot the triggers that have resulted in either positive or negative thoughts.
- Even when you feel stressed, make a note of your thinking. Stress is something that can be managed well but only when you recognize how you’re reacting to stressful events; it’s often far easier to just give in to a flood of bad thoughts and feelings and respond habitually with negativity. By noting your triggers and reactions during stressful periods, you’ll have something concrete to work with, to change for the better.
- Let yourself be positive. Sometimes thinking negatively has become a norm simply because you believe that to think positively would somehow mean letting go of appearing serious, intellectual, intelligent, clued in, or the like. This can be such a powerful yet erroneous belief that letting go of the negative frame of mind feels absolutely threatening. However, the reality is that positive people aren’t any less smart, serious or switched on––in fact, they’re usually more inclined to these positive aspects of human nature than any person mired in negativity. If you do suffer from a worry that acting more positively will somehow mess with how you come across to others, don’t fret. Take the changes in your thinking in increments and let yourself discover slowly but surely that taking a positive outlook doesn’t deaden your sense of justice or propriety, doesn’t leave you feeling frivolous and won’t dumb you down. Far from it, you should discover a sense of lightness and freedom from the yoke of criticism, which in turn will free up your thinking prowess like never before.
- Have fun. Okay, it’s a cliché but it’s said often for good reason––people who seek a bit of regular fun in their lives tend to be happier and more positive because it isn’t all drudgery and never-ending monotony. Fun breaks up the hard work and challenges. What brings adventure into your life?
- Challenge your negative thoughts. Perhaps you’ve thought some of the ever-present negative thoughts all of your life, or for a great deal of it anyway. That doesn’t make them right or healthy. Initially it can feel very confronting to keep reminding yourself that the negative thoughts deserve challenging when they distress or disrupt you. Begin by asking simple questions when the automatic negative thoughts pop up, particularly questions like “Is that true?”, “Did I just make that up because it sounded reasonable but I lacked the facts?”, “How does it help me to think negatively like this?” and “Is this situation as bad as I’m making it out to be?”.
- Replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Once you’re feeling confident that you can spot and challenge negative thoughts, you’re ready to make active choices about replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. This isn’t Pollyanna time though––sometimes bad things happen and you’ll feel genuinely bad––and that’s normal. What aiming for a positive outlook is really about is replacing the daily unhelpful thinking patterns outlined earlier with thoughts that actually help you to flourish? Initially this step takes a bit of repeated and deliberate effort but its effort well spent and soon enough, this step will be your automatic default: Plant positive thoughts into your mind deliberately Find the good in events, people and things around you, all of the time Focus on finding more good things in your life Recognize challenging situations and people as opportunities rather than as setbacks Tell yourself that the future is filled with possibilities and the potential for good things Acknowledge that negative thoughts are not something to eliminate but to minimize––sometimes they’re appropriate or realistic; a positive outlook flourishes when you don’t let negative thoughts swamp you. It is considered that a ratio of two positive thoughts to one negative thought is the optimal approach to coping well and flourishing (being psychologically whole and healthy) in life.
2. Never Give UP
- Keep at it. Developing a positive outlook is actually the development of a skill. You’re not born thinking negatively––it happens over time as you absorb the communications and actions around you, including how you were raised, educated and treated in various contexts through life. As with any skill, it takes time to master and it requires dedicated practice and gentle reminders about not falling back into stinking thinking. There are lots of great ways to help you stay focused and pepped to stick with the positive thinking, such as:
- Say positive things about yourself, regularly. How you communicate to yourself affects your thinking and your emotions, as well as your self-esteem. And be sure to praise yourself for things done well; you deserve to acknowledge the good you’ve achieved, the efforts you make.
- Try new things. Experiencing a wide variety of life will do wonders. Stepping out of your comfort zone can often take you by surprise and knock those negative generalizations and black and white thoughts right back into their cave. Something as simple as trying a new food in a restaurant can lead to the discovery of new tastes and different sensations, along with the release of negative prior impressions. Visit a new town, city or country and see how other people view the world. Read a novel in a genre you’ve never considered before. Learn a new skill (and boost your brain power at the same time); take up learning an instrument, doing Sudoku or learning a new language.
3. Become More Aware
- Notice, feel and stay aware. Negative thinking is often an excuse to stay on autopilot and to stop really seeing and experiencing the world and other beings. It’s a form of creating a shield around oneself and shutting down on being present (it’s mentally lazy). By forcing yourself to notice people, listen attentively, feel the things happening to you with grace and care and to remain aware of what is happening, you’ll find that it’s much more enjoyable to be positive. You’ll also be better able to recognize turtle behavior (trying to escape back into your shell) and be gentle with yourself rather than beating yourself up for it––for example, perhaps you’re in a situation where you feel tired or simply overwhelmed and need a break––acknowledge the facts rather than calling yourself “always a loser” or blaming yourself for other people’s behavior.
- Consider taking up meditation as a way to centre yourself and learn excellent focus. By meditating every day for 10 to 20 minutes, at a time that’s convenient for you, you can increase your awareness of self and the present, helping you to corral the stinking thinking with greater consciousness.
- Read more. Read about people who have fought fear with courage and have succeeded in life, from explorers to entrepreneurs. Through reading, you will gain new knowledge and understanding and you will see that you’re not alone in the endeavour to constantly reset the mind’s course. Every person has to do this, to succeed in creating a personally fulfilling life.
- Be creative and let yourself fall deep into the flow. Negativity can arise when you don’t feel good at something. Find something you’re good at or enjoy, don’t set the clock but just get deeply engrossed in it so that you lose track of time and space. Allow yourself to do this at least once a week, say on a weekend, so that you have a focal point in your life that is all about doing something you absolutely love, with no strings attached. This can help to clear the thoughts that block you and spark more positive ideas.
4. Become Optimistic – It’s Simple – Just a Matter of Decision
By becoming Optimistic improves your influence on your Life as well the people who come into your path. Optimism is infectious. Misery is also infectious. Which would you rather spread? By showing an optimistic attitude and making positive, constructive choices, you act as an example to others to do likewise. Associate or mix around with people who can provide something of value. Look for the positives in other people too––finding what is good in people and accentuating that will help more of it to flourish.
- Avoid people who sap your energy and motivation. If you can’t avoid them, or don’t want to, learn how not to let them get you down and keep your connection with them brief. Be very wary of any romantic liaison in which you feel that your partner is taking on your life rather than having one of his or her own––this is a warning that this person has the ability to drag you down and leave you feeling sapped. Connect with people who have many passions they call their own and want to share with you.
- Set meaningful goals, no matter how impossible they may seem at the moment. Keep yourself busy working on them, throw yourself into reaching them and believe in the cause you’ve set for yourself. Once you reach the first goal, you will be inspired to continue with the remaining goals, as well as adding new ones. With each goal achieved, no matter how small, you will gain confidence and your self-esteem will increase, feeding more positivity in your life. And in general, have a plan for your life––where you want to go and how you want to get there. Where do you want to be at certain points in your life? This doesn’t have to be complicated (indeed, don’t make it hard on yourself!) but by having a general plan, you give yourself the motivation to overcome obstacles and to start feeling that you are in control of your destiny––not fate, not other people and not random events.
- Embrace difficulties. They will happen, as often as successes or peak moments in your life, perhaps more often. They are there to teach you what doesn’t work, what needs changing and how you can improve your approaches. They are something you can cope with, if you choose to do so
5. Whatever You Think is Right
It is your thinking that will determine the Life that you will lead and how you will cope with life’s challenges. If you believe that you deserve a life that is good, healthy, enjoying the company of real, awesome people then your brain will believe that as being true. If on the other hand you refuse or don’t enable yourself to believe this then it will not happen. You need to break down how you want your life to be, but before you can do this it is important to believe that this is possible.