The reason those three words drive me crazy is because in order to think positive, a positive mindset is necessary. Naturally even positive thinkers can have moments of drifting off into negative thoughts. Their strength is to return to a more positive approach rather than go to the doom and gloom of a negative thinker.
To ‘just think positive,’ it is necessary to have a positive mindset.
When you are struggling to stay positive about something, you are probably feeling stressed. This might be the result of feeling uncertain or lacking clarity about the situation, person or project, or any number of other reasons. So when I hear that the advice given by a helpful, supportive friend or colleague is “Just think positive,” I am tempted to ask: “And exactly how do you suggest your friend or colleague does this while feeling stressed?”
Of course changing your mindset or perspective from negative to positive is brilliant advice. It is the expectation that this happens in a flash that makes me crazy. It is not as if you can flick a switch in your mind.
Based on research in the field of neuroscience, stress activates a stress response in the body. One of these responses is cognitive resources are depleted. It is a fact that when emotions of stress kick in, cognitive resources are first to be disrupted. Emotions overpower thinking in that moment. Without creating a safer, calmer environment, your thinking will stay limited.
Switch to feeling and being able to think more positively, by breaking the energy of that very moment.
The fastest way to take charge of stress, i.e. negative thoughts, is by involving your senses: Take a walk, listen to music, be creative, cook something, bake a cake . . . do anything that you find soothing and that will distract you from your thoughts right now. As my mother always told us, “Busy hands are happy hands.” If you are at work, allow yourself a short break away from your desk, take a couple of deep breaths, and interrupt the mood - if only momentarily. Get something to drink or any other short break away you can think of. Then return to the situation and take another look at it.
This rule applies to life at work, as well as to your personal life.
Here are some helpful guidance tips on the type of questions you can ask yourself in order to feel more positive:
Once you are aware of these this, move on to consider these questions:
Sometimes accepting that you cannot do anything to change the situation is the most helpful step. This falls under the heading, “You cannot change people, but you can change how you react to them.” In other words “acceptance” is the most empowering step you can take right now.
This is a life skill well worth acquiring. It will help you feel stronger, more secure and raise your self-esteem. Practice this approach over and over again. Soon you will know that you are thinking more positively because you know you can turn things around.
By Suzie Doscher, Personal Development Life Coach and Executive Coaching, Self-help Author
An excerpt (Page 82) from BALANCE - A Practical Handbook and Workbook for Life's Difficult Moments by Suzie Doscher, available in Paperback on Kindle or Audiobook in any Amazon store worldwide. Audiobook is available on iTunes and Amazon Audible.
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