Tag Archives: positive attitude

Change is inevitable

 

 

change photo

Change is inevitable

An indisputable fact of life is that change is a continuous process that we all have to adapt to. Life moves on and we get older. The seasons come and go and people come and go from our lives too. Sometimes change is positive  such as the arrival of a new baby or moving into a bigger house but it can also be negative like a relationship that ends or someone passing away.

Change is inevitable and our attitude to change is what makes the situation easier when the change is negative.

Tips for dealing with change

Focus on what you can control

When we focus on what we can’t control we create unnecessary anxiety and stress in our lives. We cannot control the thoughts and actions of others, all we can control is our own thoughts and actions. This is where your power lies, bring your focus back to yourself. Always ask yourself whether what you are worrying about is within your control. If it isn’t, learn to let it go.

Practice ‘non-attachment’

Everything in life is temporary – your possessions and even the people in your life. This idea provokes anxiety for a lot of people but use this to your advantage. Learn to really appreciate what you have now as it won’t be there forever. Practicing a certain amount of non-attachment is a good thing as it is a worldly reminder that life is transient and that we should never take for granted the people in our lives. The less attachment we have to physical possessions, the happier we are. Being too attached to material possessions brings with it anxiety and a desire to exert control. This control is something many people chase but it is a waste of energy in the long run.

Live in the moment as much as possible

We all scare ourselves unnecessarily with fearful thoughts about the future. “What if this happens or what if that becomes a reality?”. More often than not the fearful thoughts are far worse than the reality would be and it is our inability to cope with uncertainty that leads many of us to feel anxious. Practising mindfulness is a great way to allay fears and to enjoy the moment more. When we are living inside our heads and worrying about the future, we are losing precious moments to feel happy and content. Try to focus your attention on what is going on around you. Practise focusing your attention in the present moment. If you catch your mind wandering to the future, refocus on your environment – what can you see, hear, touch…? This does take practise but keep at it!

Goals and purpose

Committing to a purpose that is greater than ourselves is a wonderful way to bring meaning into life. What are your long term and short term goals? Create a visualisation board with images of where you would like to be in a year or two years…what do you see?

Having something to work towards can help you to feel stronger when you are experiencing moments of self doubt. A bigger picture can help you to stay on track.

Change is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be something we fear. Instead of resisting it, learn to work with it as if you have chosen that change on purpose. There is a lesson in every life experience and change we go through.

Mandy X

 

 

think yourself healthy

Think yourself healthy

health photo

Think yourself healthy

There have been many examples of people who have outwitted ill-health by thinking themselves into a positive physical state. This may seem a bit far-fetched but hear me out…there are ways to think yourself healthy.

Sometimes your mind can be your worst enemy or it can be your best ally.Research has shown that positive thinking can influence your health in a good way.Past research has found that savoring the moment and positive thinking can help to not only improve your current health, but also prevent future health complications. In particular, the findings found positive thoughts to be especially beneficial to those already suffering from diseases like coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.

Placebos are fantastic evidence that the power of mind can help heal the body. Belief is a powerful mechanism. A simple sugar pill can work wonders if the person taking the sugar pill believes it will work. A study conducted by a Cleveland Clinic Foundation exercise psychologist in Ohio compared individuals who worked out at a gym against those who only visualized doing so. The surprising result? Understandably, the gym-goers experienced a 30 percent increase in muscle. The ones who thought about free weights and elliptical machines? That group actually experienced an increase in muscle strength that was almost half that of the other group (13.5%).

This isn’t to say we should all forego our gym memberships and yoga pants. However, it does illustrate the power our thoughts have when it comes to our health and how it is possible to think yourself healthy.

A study looking at brain patterns in weightlifters found that the patterns activated when a weightlifter lifted hundreds of pounds were similarly activated when they only imagined lifting.

The Nocebo effect also illustrates the power of the mind.  In 1992 theSouthern Medical Journal reported the case of a man who in 1973 had been diagnosed with cancer and given just months to live. After his death, however, his autopsy showed that the tumour in his liver had not grown. His intern Clifton Meador didn’t believe he’d died of cancer: “I do not know the pathologic cause of his death,” he wrote. Could it be that, instead of the cancer, it was his expectation of death that killed him?

This death could be an extreme example of the “nocebo effect” – the flip-side to the better-known placebo effect. While an inert sugar pill (placebo) can make you feel better, warnings of fictional side-effects (nocebo) can make you feel those too. This is a common problem in pharmaceutical trials and a 1980s study found that heart patients were far more likely to suffer side-effects from their blood-thinning medication if they had first been warned of the medication’s side-effects.

This places a spotlight on doctor-patient relationships. Today’s society is litigious and sceptical, and if doctors overemphasise side-effects to their patients to avoid being sued, or patients mistrust their doctor’s chosen course of action, the nocebo effect can cause a treatment to fail before it has begun. It also introduces a paradox – we must believe in our doctors if we are to gain the full benefits of their prescribed treatments, but if we trust in them too strongly, we can die from their pronouncements.

How to think yourself healthy

• 1. Close your eyes and imagine your immune system in a way that appeals to you. I like to imagine jellyfish-type-soldiers invading around my body, defeating bad bacteria and unhealthy cells. Make sure there are plenty of them, and see them as strong and purposeful.

• 2. Next, imagine travelling inside your body to the area that needs healing, and notice how you imagine the problem manifesting. You might see the infection or diseased cells as lots of tiny black globules.

• 3. Now, the jellyfish are going to destroy the black globules. It’s best not to imagine the immune system fighting; rather see the pale-coloured jellyfish surrounding and devouring the tiny black globules.

• 4. When all the tiny globules are gone, it’s important to then imagine the jellyfish happily swimming off and patrolling your bloodstream. This ensures you do not over-stimulate your immune system.

• 5. Imagine now a healthier you sitting in front of you. See how the person looks, smiles, and so on.

• 6.Now step into the healthier you and feel how much better you feel.

I completely believe that the mind can influence the body. After all, the mind and body are inextricably interlinked. Psychosomatic illness has long been documented and is yet another example of how interlinked our mental state and physical state are. Visualisation techniques, mindfulness, engaging in positive thinking, adopting a kind and tolerant attitude to others and maintaining peace and contentment can all contribute positively towards a healthier life.

PS. Make sure to get enough sleep and eat well too!

Mandy X

 

References:

http://naturalsociety.com/scientists-prove-you-can-think-your-way-to-wellness/

http://www.naturalnews.com/044296_positive_thinking_healing_visualization.html#ixzz3JuapZFmg

http://www.channel4.com/news/can-just-telling-a-man-he-has-cancer-kill-him

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-171897/How-think-healthy.html#ixzz3JudW7Qmc

positive thinking

The downside of positive thinking

positive energy photo

The Downside of positive thinking

The downside of positive thinking rarely gets mentioned nowadays. A lot has been said about positive thinking, not only on this blog but elsewhere on the web. It’s a mantra that is rife and ubiquitous. The cult of positive thinking is upon us.

“Think the right thoughts and your life will turn around.”

“Don’t listen to your thinking – it’s all in your head.”  etc etc

Of course, looking on the bright side does make sense. Our thoughts are inextricably linked to our moods and emotions. When we focus on what is wrong in our lives we can spiral downwards into a pit of despair. In fact, it is impossible to constantly think positively. Unless you are a computer or robot, constantly being positive just isn’t normal. The downside of positive thinking sets in when we try with all our might to be positive and yet we fail. Not only do we fail but it’s all our fault because if we’d thought positively, then things would be better.

Positive thinking has been taken too far.  Look at nature – there are the seasons, the tides, there is a balance..yin and yang. So is it with our thinking.

1) Accept that negative thinking is a part of life

Try not to berate yourself for engaging (and possibly even serious wallowing) in negative thinking. Negative thinking is a necessary part of life – it motivates you to change things. People who are always positive are either mentally ill or in serious denial. Either way, it’s not good. Embrace negative thinking as a reminder that you need to progress – in all likelihood in the direction of the negative thinking. When we have recurring negative thinking, it is a sign that we need to face something or deal with something important. It is part of the journey we are on. Thank the negativity as a warning sign and your inner wisdom offering you guidance.

2) See the value in negative thinking

Not all negative thinking is bad. At times we need it to help us proceed cautiously. Negative thinking that is resolution focused rather just random worrying can be useful.

Interestingly, research has shown that optimism doesn’t always equip people for long-term stresses. This was shown in an intriguing 2006 study of law students carried out by Suzanne Segerstrom of the University of Kentucky. The immune responses of optimistic and pessimistic students were compared when they were operating under high and low demands for their time and energy. Normally, optimists tend to perceive less stress because either they are better able to cope or because they see the world with rosier glasses. However, when demands become ultra severe, the optimists suffered a lower immune response than pessimists.

Part of the reason for the poorer immune response of optimists is the way they approach stressful situations. When faced with a stressor, whether it’s a major life crisis such as the loss of a close relative or friend, or a daily “hassle” such as getting caught in traffic, we can cope in basically one of two ways. In emotion-focused coping, you try to make yourself feel better through strategies such as looking at the bright side, putting the bad event out of your mind or calming your feelings through relaxation or meditation. In problem-focused coping, you try to turn the tide and actually get to the root of the stress. You decide what’s needed, set forth a plan, and go through the steps needed to complete the plan. There is less denial and more constructive action-based behaviour.

3) Emotion focused thinking (optimism) versus problem focused thinking (pessimism)

Researchers discovered years ago that there is no “right” way to cope with difficult life situations. Sometimes emotion-focused coping is more adaptive and at other times, problem-focused coping will alleviate the stress. You’re better off using emotion focused coping when it’s too late to do anything to change the situation. Emotion-focused coping also works when there is an ongoing stressor that is outside of your control, such as a landlord who refuses to tell the residents of a next-door apartment to turn down their loud music late at night. On the other hand, when your actions will determine the consequences and change a negative outcome, emotion-focused coping can have unfortunate effects. Wishing a huge project at work would be smaller won’t make the project any smaller. You just have to tackle it. Problem-focused coping, then, is what’s most effective when your efforts really will make a difference.

4) The downside of optimism

Now we get to the part about optimists. With their strong belief in hope, their “can-do” attitude often leads optimists to adopt problem-focused coping past the point when their efforts to change the situation will make a difference. They believe that they can achieve what they want to, just by trying hard. This type of perfectionism can lead them to hold false and unrealistic expectations. They’d be better off sitting down and taking a breather rather than continually striving to change the unchangeable. In terms of the law students, unusually high demands tended to overwhelm them, causing their immune responses to fail. It’s amazing what we can justify to ourselves in our quests to make our lives happier but at times, this positive thinking is nothing more than intra-personal hoodwinking on a grand scale. There are some things that will just never be, no matter how much positivity you throw at it. It’s crucial to know the difference. Thinking can only take you so far.

5) Don’t throw hope away but stay grounded

The best balance is a cheerful hopeful attitude with plenty of back up plans just in case your optimism just doesn’t quite have enough oomph for the required result. Being resourceful and accepting what is happening is just as important as a good dose of positive thinking.

6) Pay attention to your health and your immune system

The downside of positive thinking is that you may overlook the obvious signs of emotional imbalance. Whatever your thoughts bring to you, a good gauge of your emotional health is how well your body is coping with stress. If you find that you suffer from sleeplessness, skin disorders, palpitations, sweaty palms, headaches or gastro-intestinal troubles, this could be your body’s way of sending you a sign that it isn’t coping. Irrespective of your thinking, your body will al;ways send you signs to let you know whether you are on the right track or not.

Mandy X

Photo by HikingArtist.com

 

References:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201107/optimism-vs-pessimism/the-trouble-optimism

Segerstrom, S. (2006). How does optimism suppress immunity? Evaluation of three affective pathways. Health Psychology, 25, 653-657.