When I was in a deep, dark place of depression, I spent many hours trying to drag myself back to normal thinking, feeling and being. Throughout my practices I have learnt many tools to help my clients and myself to transform and truly live the life I was meant to.
One time when I was in the pit, I ran away from my family for the weekend to try and take control of my spiralling mind. I went to the Buddist temple at Eudlo on the Sunshine Coast and spent the weekend in quietness with just my thoughts for company. That was a hell scary place. I struggled to sleep and find peace for a long time.
I spent many hours journaling that weekend and noticed how many negative thoughts that were running through my mind. I wrote them all down. Then as an activity to help sort it out, I wrote an opposite to the negative thought.
That weekend had a profound effect on how I thought about my life and I made some major decisions that weekend. Probably the best part of the weekend was the space and time that I had to truly listen to my thoughts and for me to realise how bloody shitty my thinking was.
We all deserve to be happy, but for some of us, life beats us down and we need to build skills to combat against the crappy forces of life. Some of the following helped me to pull myself out. It didn’t happen overnight, that is for sure, but it did happen. Practising positive thinking is about re-programming the mind so that you develop a new belief that will be nurturing and drive you forward.
When we develop new beliefs, we have the ability to create a life exactly how we want it to be. We can create the most amazing, vibrant life, filled with passion, love, good times and the happiest of memories for ourselves and our families.
When we show up this way, we are a shining bright light to our families, friends and communities. We have the ability to make a massive impact in other people lives.
Many of us will develop negative thinking patterns because of life’s external forces. We become frustrated by our life challenges and we develop frequent feelings of being overwhelmed. This negative outlook then makes it even harder for us to manage those challenges and move forward to live a happy life.
Practicing positive thinking allows us to focus on our strengths and accomplishments, which increases confidence, happiness and motivation. This, in turn, allows us to spend more time making progress, living our best lives and less time feeling down and stuck.
Developing the practice of positive thinking takes time to develop and at times it is one step forward and one step back. I find it similar to the practice of Pilates, a sport or a professional study. We learn something intellectually, but it is not until we apply it, then consistently apply it, that we master the practise and actually get results.
We can control our naughty mind; it really sucks to have our mind control us. I have worked on this practise for many years and know deep heartedly that it works. Keep in mind though, that we can regress and get unpractised if we don’t keep the awareness up.
The following tips are a basic guideline and provide practical suggestions that you can use to help you shift into more positive thinking patterns and re-claim your happy mind:
1. Take Good Care of Yourself
This is a no brainer, but are you doing it? It’s much easier to be positive when you are eating well, exercising and getting enough rest. This is a MUST sweetie, you matter, so please apply this.
2. Remind Yourself of the Things You Are Grateful For
Stresses and challenges don’t seem quite as bad when you are constantly reminding yourself of the things that are right in life. Taking just 60 seconds a day to stop and appreciate the good things will make a huge difference. Try writing them down in a journal first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
3. Look for the Proof Instead of Making Assumptions
A fear of not being liked or accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking, but our fears are usually not reality. If you have a fear that a friend or family member’s bad mood is due to something you did, or that your co-workers are secretly gossiping about you when you turn your back, speak up and ask them. Don’t waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have proof that there is something to worry about. STOP making crap up. We create our own reality. What ‘reality are you creating?’
4. Avoid Using Absolutes
Have you ever told a partner “You’re ALWAYS late!” or complained to a friend “You NEVER call me!”? Thinking and speaking in absolutes like ‘always’ and ‘never’ makes the situation seem worse than it is and programs your brain into believing that certain people are incapable of delivering.
5. Detach From Negative Thoughts
Your thoughts can’t hold any power over you if you don’t judge them. If you notice yourself having a negative thought, detach from it, witness it and don’t follow it. Just observe and try this, say to yourself “mmmmm interesting” .
6. Squash the “ANTs”
In his book “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life”, Dr. Daniel Amen talks about “ANTs” – Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the bad thoughts that are usually reactionary, like “Those people are laughing, they must be talking about me,” or “The boss wants to see me? It must be bad!”. When you notice these thoughts, realise that they are nothing more than ANTs and squash them! Listen to your thoughts. They are running in the background of your life. Stop ignoring the negative and create the positive.
7. Practice Love, Touch & Squeeze – preferably your Friends and Family, not strangers
You don’t have to be an expert to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive, physical contact with friends, loved ones and even pets, is an instant pick-me-up. One research study on this subject, had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks. She received higher tips from these customers than from the ones she didn’t touch! I should try this at my Pilates studio, wish me luck.
8. Increase Socialising – find cool people to hang out with (like us at our Facebook group community)
I know at times we don’t want to see people. I love time to myself and often don’t want to see anyone. But us humans are social creatures. By increasing social activity, you decrease loneliness. Surround yourself with healthy, happy people and their positive energy will affect you in a positive way! One of my biggest mottos in life is “SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE!”.
9. Try Volunteering or Help another Person
Everyone feels good after helping. You can volunteer your time, your money or your resources. The more positive energy you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return. Tony Robbins talks about our basic human need for contribution, to help us feel fulfilled in life. I love the feeling I get from helping our members in the Facebook group. Total volunteer job satisfaction
10. Use Pattern Interrupts to break your state of mind
If you find yourself obsessing and overthinking, a great way to stop it is to interrupt the pattern of behaviour and force yourself to do something completely different. Obsessive thinking about 1 thing is like hyper-focus on something negative. It’s never productive, because it’s not rational or solution-oriented. It’s just excessive worry. Try changing your physical environment – go for a walk or sit outside. You could also call a friend, pick up a book or turn on some music. Do whatever it takes to break this state of mind.
Your persistence at applying these practises will pay off my friend. Please let me know your thoughts and let me know if I can help you in any way. Surround yourself with the right people, the people who inspire and lift you
Here’s to YOUR happy thoughts and you being in control of your mind.
Love Sandra Leigh
💥 BUILDING STRONG HEALTHY PEOPLE, BUSINESSES & WORKPLACES FROM THE INSIDE OUT 💥
Sandra Leigh specialises in helping business owners, remote workers and workplaces build strong healthy habits from the inside out.