Tag Archives: positive thinking

Healthy Thoughts

 

thoughts photo

Healthy thoughts

When you feel stressed or anxious – watch what you are thinking and read through this list of healthier thoughts – better ways to think. Your mood is directly dependent on what you think about yourself and the world:

 

  1. There is no law carved in stone that states “I MUST”. Stop putting pressure on yourself. You could but you don’t have to.
  2. It’s just a hassle, not a horror. Don’t catastrophise when bad stuff happens. Don’t blow things out of proportion.
  3. I am not worthless because I fail and make mistakes.
  4. If I don’t recover quickly, I can learn from my mistakes and eventually do better at recovering.
  5. One failure does not mean TOTAL failure, or that I will never succeed.
  6. Reality is reality, not what I think it must be.
  7. Being human means I will sometimes act imperfectly.
  8. It is okay to ask for help.
  9. It is okay to not know what to do.
  10. It is okay to not cope and feel weak at times.

When we use good thoughts, we feel better about ourselves and life. Be an organised’thought manager’ – learn to let go of thoughts that are unhelpful and focus more on the thoughts that serve you well.

Mandy X

change the way we think

Changing the way we think

thoughts photo

Changing the way we think

 

  • Changing the way we think

As thoughts play such an important role in our distressing emotions, it can be very effective to notice these thoughts, and learn to think differently, or to think about thoughts in a different way.  When you start to feel upset

 

SELF CONTROL – monitor thinking and stay in the moment

When thoughts are distressing you, try not to give them attention or assign emotion/interpretation to them. Dismiss them.

 

Questions to ask yourself when you feel distressed

STOPP!  Pause, take a breath, don’t react automatically

Ask yourself:

  • What am I reacting to?
  • What is it that’s really pushing my buttons here?
  • What is it that I think is going to happen here?
  • What’s the worst (and best) that could happen?  What’s most likely to happen?
  • Am I getting things out of proportion?
  • How important is this really?  How important will it be in 6 months time?
  • What harm has actually been done?
  • Am I expecting something from this person or situation that is unrealistic?
  • Am I overestimating the danger?
  • Am I underestimating my ability to cope?
  • Am I using that negative filter? Those gloomy specs?  Is there another way of looking at it?
  • What advice would I give to someone else in this situation?
  • Am I spending time ruminating about the past or worrying about the future?  What could I do right now that would help me feel better?
  • Am I putting more pressure on myself, setting up expectations of myself that are almost impossible?  What would be more realistic?
  • Am I mind-reading what others might be thinking?
  • Am I believing I can predict the future?
  • Is there another way of looking at this?
  • What advice would I give someone else in this situation?
  • Am I putting more pressure on myself?
  • Just because I feel bad, doesn’t mean things really are 
  • Am I jumping to conclusions about what this person meant?  Am I mis-reading between the lines?  Is it possible that they didn’t mean that?
  • Am I exaggerating the good aspects of others, and putting myself down?  Or am I exaggerating the negative and minimising the positives? How would someone else see it?  What’s the bigger picture?
  • Things aren’t either totally white or totally black – there are shades of grey.  Where is this on the spectrum?
  • This is just a reminder of the past.  That was then, and this is now.  Even though this memory makes me feelupset, it’s not actually happening again right now.
  • What do I want or need from this person or situation?  What do they want or need from me?  Is there a compromise?
  • What would be the consequences of responding the way I usually do?
  • Is there another way of dealing with this?  What would be the most helpful and effective action to take?  (for me, for the situation, for the other person)

Ways to make our thoughts less intrusive

  • Use metaphors try to see things differently.  Metaphors can help us understand thoughts in a different way.  For example:

Passengers on the Bus

  • You can be in the driving seat, whilst all passengers (thoughts) are noisily chattering, being critical or shouting out directions.  You can allow them to shout, but you can keep your attention focused on the road ahead.

 

 

Playground Bully

 

  • The playground is fenced in and the children have to learn to live with the bully.  This bully uses threats, mocking and abusive words to upset his victims.  We can’t stop our thoughts, but perhaps we can react to them in a different way, as these victims show us.
  • Victim 1 – believes the bully (the thoughts), becomes distressed, and reacts automatically.  The bully sees this as great entertainment and will carry on targeting this victim.  This is how we normally respond to our thoughts.
  • Victim 2 – challenges the bully, and bully eventually gives up on this victim.
  • Victim 3 – acknowledges then ignores the bully, changing focus of attention, and the bully soon gives up.

 

The River

  • Items floating down the river – perhaps leaves or bits of mucky debris (thoughts, feelings, images) – instead of struggling to stay afloat, we can stand on the bank watching our thoughts, images and sensations go by

 

The Beach Ball

  • We can try to stop our thoughts, like trying to hold a beach ball under water, but it keeps popping up in front of our face (intrusive distressing thoughts).  We can allow the ball (our thoughts) to float around us, not intruding, just letting it be.

 

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

Twelve Simple Ideas that make all the difference

the mind photo

 

Twelve Simple Ideas that make all the difference

1) Gaining knowledge does not automatically mean that you are growing as a person. It is using and applying that knowledge to live an informed and enlightened life that helps you grow.

2) Many people talk but never do. A great idea isn’t worth anything unless it is actioned.

3) Most unhappiness comes from the difference between how life is and how we feel life should be. Work with what you have rather than bemoaning life and wishing things were different.

4)You can’t change others, you can only control your reactions to others. Focus on yourself and feel more empowered.

5) Failure is a necessary part of life, see each failure as an extra earned strip on your jacket of life.

6) See the world in a philosophical way. Sometimes bad things happen to us and we may never truly understand why. See each difficult experience as a way to grow, a lesson to learn.

7) Staying in your comfort zone can be damaging. Learn to leave comfort behind to learn your strengths.

8) Thoughts and facts are not the same. Your thinking can be selective. Choose thoughts that work for you and improve the quality of your life.

9) You are in your current position in life due to past decisions you have made. You are 100% responsible for where you are in life.

10) Stress comes not from facts, but from the meaning you give those facts.

11) You cannot change whatever you refuse to acknowledge.

12) Being happy and being successful aren’t always the same.

 

Simple ideas about life can make all the difference. Watch what you choose to believe. This choice determines your quality of life.

Mandy X

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.

keep the faith

Sevens ways to keep hope alive

hope photo

 Keep hope alive

Life can be tough at times. It can seem as if everything is against you at times. So how do we get through, is there anything we can do to ride the tough times and come out the other side relatively unscathed? How do we keep hope alive?

I have put together a few ideas to help you when you feel at rock bottom that will help you to keep the faith and keep hope alive.

1) Be philosophical

Believe things are unfolding as they are meant to. There are so many things about life that we don’t understand. We only use a small percentage of our brains so who knows the implications of what we are experiencing. Some say we choose our difficulties in life in order to learn and grow. Whatever the reality/truth is, try to see the hard times as something bigger than you are. When we believe that there is a higher purpose, it makes it easier to get through. We may not like it or welcome it but it can be comforting to imagine that there is some reason for it and that it will strengthen us in the long run.

2) Believe there is light at the end of the tunnel

Remind yourself that you will deal with whatever comes your way. Try not to think about possible things that could go wrong. Poisoning the present moment with toxic thinking that might never come to be is the quickest way to feel down-trodden.

3) Accept what you cannot change

We can waste a lot of mental, emotional and physical energy resisting things that we have no power to change. Understand the difference and focus on what is within your realm of control. Refer to point number one for the things you cannot change.

4) Improve your tolerance of uncertainty

Uncertainty is here to stay so it makes sense to find a way to live with it. No one can predict the future and so uncertainty is something no one is immune to.

Make a list of ‘safety behaviours’ that you engage in, such as obsessive list making, double checking yourself constantly, seeking reassurance from others, planning ahead too much. Safety behaviours give us the feeling that we are safer and less immune to uncertainty but the reality is that uncertainty will still exist despite safety behaviours. Rate your safety behaviours in terms of the reduction in anxiety from 0 to 10.

For example – if going to see a movie without checking the reviews would give you an anxiety rating of 2/10 (0 being no anxiety, 10 being the most anxiety) rate this as a two on your list. If talking to a complete stranger makes you anxious, figure out on a scale on 0 to 10 how anxious that would make you. Start engaging in these behaviours, start with the lowest anxiety actions and work your way up to 10 on the list. Reduce safety behaviours to help you see that you can survive without double checking, obtaining reassurance, making lists etc

5) Develop a robust ‘mental filing system’

Learn to ‘shelve’ what you cannot do anything about at the present time. Do what needs to be done on the parts you can change and then mentally shelve the issue until the next action phase swings back to you. Realise that worrying about things that you cannot have an effect upon will leave you unnecessarily anxious.

6) Unhook from your thoughts

What you focus on will become your reality and because of this, it is essential to detach or unhook from your thoughts, especially the fearful, self limiting thoughts. Remind yourself that your thought are merely internal chemical interactions and they do not have a direct bearing on reality. Learn to challenge thinking and if you are engaging in “what if” thinking, black-and-white thinking, personalising (It’s all my fault), catastrophising (eg.this is the worst thing ever!), negative filtering where you only see the negatives…stop it! Easier said than done, I know, but learn to ignore those irrational thoughts.

7) Be happy rather than accurate

The main characteristic of optimists is that they know how to look for the positives in a situation. Depressed people may be more accurate in their evaluation of their experiences but they will also be a lot more miserable. I say, do what works, if you have to tell yourself  something that leaves you feeling happier rather than precisely accurate – do it!

Optimists believe their good fortune is due to something they have done, pessimists believe their good fortune is due to luck or something external to themselves. Optimists believe negative outcomes are due to elements beyond their control whereas pessimists believe bad things are due to their own inadequacies. I know which thinking I would rather go with. If it makes me feel happier, why not?

There are many tools we can use to get through life and survive our individual ‘assault courses’. Manage your perceptions of the world, tweak what doesn’t work and maintain a positive internal thought system to promote and encourage a happier, more contented you.

Mandy X

 

beliefs

Thinking and beliefs

beliefs photo

 Thinking and Beliefs

Do our thoughts accurately reflect reality or do they create our reality? This has long been a question I have pondered on. What is the truth? What we believe and feel in our hearts or the bare face objective reality unfettered by emotions?

If reality and the outside world, what we see, is independent of us then whatever we believe makes no difference to the way the world continues to progress and play out. We might believe that being a vegetarian is a healthy option but the level of vegetarianism will not be affected by this belief. What goes on in the external world and our internal world is separate.

If reality is partially subjective however, what we think and believe can and will make a difference to our quality of life.Your beliefs are partially creating your reality. In fact, we all have slightly different realities of reality. What are you on about I hear you say… let me explain.

You cannot merely look to external reality for truth because your thoughts are creating it. If you believe the world is better off with more vegetarians, your own thoughts contribute to shaping the world in accordance with your beliefs. We look for external events and evidence to support our thinking not the other way around.

When you realise the power of your own thinking it becomes easier to take advantage of your inner powers of perception. In order to use your thoughts to create, you must first believe it’s at least conceivably possible to do so.

If quantum theory is to be believed, then it’s clear that our observations influence reality. Our thoughts affect reality through direct and indirect action. Direct action involves thinking and then following through with a concrete action. On a  indirect level, when we believe something to be true we can promote that event happening – known as a self fulfilling prophecy.

Your thoughts can affect reality through indirect action, whereby your beliefs make you a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you go to work each day, you’re a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your beliefs about reality will be reflected through your actions, often in extremely subtle ways.

You can act upon the world. You can move things around, talk to people, make changes, etc. If you believe that your actions will be ineffective, then you create yourself as a powerless entity. But if you were to change your beliefs about that, you could significantly change the world. What are you telling yourself? Are your thoughts empowering or disempowering?

Understand that beliefs are decisions. They are choices. When you hold a belief, you aren’t merely observing reality — you’re actively creating it. So if you adopt the belief that you will embarrass yourself at the next office party, understand that what you’re doing is choosing to embarrass yourself. You’re setting up the prophecy you wish to fulfill. If your thoughts could not impact reality, then this would be foolish. But if your thoughts can and do impact reality, then it’s just common sense to choose the beliefs that are aligned with what you wish to create. So if you’re overweight and believe you cannot lose weight, you’re actually choosing to be fat. And underlying that belief may be a whole web of other disempowering beliefs — you may need to unravel quite a few of these in order to feel comfortable creating fitness for yourself.

I believe that my thoughts are capable of having a positive impact on reality and I feel a strong sense of responsibility for what I am creating with my thinking. This is how I choose to engineer my life – thinking and action aligned purposefully. I choose to believe that the universe supports me and that there is a way to achieve my goals. I believe that people are inherently good and that I have the power to choose my circumstances in life – how I spend my time and the people I let into my life.

When I choose positive thoughts, I tend to attract this into my life. It may seem simplistic but it certainly helps to have a head full of thinking that promotes a good, happy, peaceful world around me.

Mandy X

 

 

 

 

Limiting Beliefs

 

Michael Barata Don't allow your beliefs to get...

Michael Barata Don’t allow your beliefs to get in the way of new discoveries. Go. Explore life (Photo credit: symphony of love)

Several years ago I was driving through an affluent neighbourhood in Surrey with my boyfriend (at the time). As we drove through the leafy area, we looked in awe at the mansions on either side of the street. Whenever I drive through an affluent area I always wonder what the residents do for a living. It fascinates me. After a few minutes, my boyfriend piped up, “It’s another world, isn’t it?”. My boyfriend was looking at the wealth and trappings of success and seeing it as something that would never be possible in his world. Whereas when I looked around, it inspired me. I never once thought that I wouldn’t be able to achieve the same as the people in that neighbourhood.

My point is, that if you don’t believe something is possible, your thoughts and your actions will immediately lead you to exactly where you think you should be – excluded and without. If you have limiting beliefs about what is possible in your life, you will re-arrange your actions and aspirations to be in line with that attitude. I like the saying, “You can’t score a goal if you aren’t on the field”. Limiting beliefs remove you from the ‘playing field’ immediately. No discussion – you are escorted off.

Believe in possibilities. Visualise good things coming into your life. I can say with 100% certainty that being open minded and embracing positive expectancy has helped me to achieve a higher standard of living. When you catch yourself thinking in a limiting way, reframe it straight away.

Example: I will never get a job at Company X

Reframe: Why couldn’t I get a job at Company X? It’s worth finding out more and giving it a go.

Your thinking opens doors or closes them, just by the nature of what you think. Make sure you leave plenty of room for possibilities.

Mandy X

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