How To Improve Your Life And Feel Good. Here's The Easiest Way, Starting Right Now.
Thoughts and feelings determine the quality of your life, and getting to grips with your own thinking is the Number One Personal Power Tool. That's one heck of an ask though!
Thousands of thoughts flit through your mind on a daily basis, and unless you engage in a regular practice such as mindfulness or meditation for example, you probably don't spend much time focusing on what is going on in your mind.
Also, as it is thought that we have between sixty to eighty thousand thoughts a day, of which only about five per cent are thought to be conscious, it's impossible to be aware of even a tiny fraction of them!
Does the term 'Think Positive!' rankle with you?
So often we’re told to have a positive mindset, and quite honestly if you’re having a rough time that’ll be the last thing you want to hear. Actually though, it’s truly sound advice. Here are three reasons why:
1. Energy vibration
Thoughts are energy vibrating, and energy follows and is drawn to similar energy. This is called entrainment. So if your thoughts are positive they will naturally attract and be drawn towards more positive energy, and gather momentum. Similarly, if they are negative they will be drawn to and attract more negative energy. This always has an emotional impact and that in turn affects you physically. So it is in your best interest to find fresh perspectives and point your thoughts in a positive direction. This will help others too.
You may wonder what scientific proof there is for this. Well, I don’t think there is, as currently it is impossible to accurately measure this kind of energy because it changes constantly. But vibrational energy is a subject that has been studied for centuries and used intentionally in people’s everyday lives to massive positive effect. You might like to research Quantum Mechanics, The Law of Attraction, Energy Anatomy, Energetic Healing to discover more about the biology and neurology and the studies and research available.
2. Relationship between the conscious and the subconscious.
Basically there are two parts to the mind, the conscious and the subconscious. Many therapists use the term ‘unconscious’ instead of ‘subconscious’ and many describe the workings of the mind in much more detail. The following is a super-simple explanation which I reckon is all you need right now.
The conscious is the part of the mind that you think with. You know through your conscious mind, that you are aware and in the present. It is the part of your mind that thinks, reasons, and makes decisions and choices. It acts as a filter to thoughts and suggestions, deciding where to place them or whether to get rid of them. When a thought or suggestion is accepted, the information filters into the subconscious.
The subconscious is the part of the mind where everything that you’re not using in your present awareness is stored. It takes orders from the conscious mind; therefore if you have positive thoughts and you repeat them often enough, they will filter into your subconscious. It will accept these as truth, as it has no capacity to judge. Then it creates an environment where these thoughts can flourish.
Similarly, if your conscious thoughts are negative, those with a similar energy are drawn from your subconscious to add to them. In addition to this old programmes can be triggered (such as fear based on memories - as in a phobia for example). Remember thoughts are energy, and energy follows and is drawn to similar energy.
"Be aware of the messages that you send to your subconscious, because it will do what it is told. If your self-talk is negative, it will ensure you stay stuck. If your self-talk is positive and forward-thinking, it will lead you to doors of opportunity."
3. Ancient programming
Something else to be aware of is that psychologists now widely agree that we have a natural tendency to focus on the negative more than on the positive. This is called ‘negativity bias’, and is thought to have developed millions of years ago as a survival mechanism for our ancestors who had to hunt for food whilst up against all sorts of major life-threatening situations – so they had to be constantly cautious and on the lookout. We don’t need this to the same extent now, but it is our default position – that is until we take action to override it. When we recognise that our thoughts are negative, we can change them to something more helpful for us.
So thinking in a negative way is detrimental to you (and keeps you stuck), whereas when you choose to align yourself with positive energy (by adjusting the way that you think), you open yourself to fresh perspectives, inspiration, possibilities and opportunities. You'll feel a whole lot better too!
Nipping the negative in the bud
So where do you start with all this, and what do you do? Well the first step is to notice what you are actually thinking, so that you can recognise when your thoughts are negative, and then deal with them accordingly. Noticing is the most challenging part because of all the pre-programming as I’ve mentioned above.
Ways to notice what you think.
To be honest, this is a lifetime’s work and you'll only ever notice a handful of your conscious thoughts, but you can start to get into the swing of it now because I can promise you that the benefits of building your awareness like this are fantastic.
Personally I think the best way to start is by making a point of noticing the thoughts that you have as soon as you wake up. The period as you merge into consciousness from sleep is crucial, because that is when (often without realising) you initiate a programme that you’ll run on throughout the day. This programme continues to build over days, weeks and so on – unless the pattern is broken. So if you start off on a negative footing, that is how things will progress.
I'd prepare for this (and the next step in the section below) before you go to sleep. Set the intention that you are going to pay attention to your thoughts as soon as you waken up. Make that a really strong intention within you, and then have something by your bed that will instantly remind you .
Keep going with this intention throughout the day. There are various ways to help yourself:
You could record thoughts via audio on your phone
Write them down frequently
Pay attention to how you feel emotionally and physically. If you don’t feel great, just notice what you are thinking as a result. And the other way around - notice how you feel as a result of what you are thinking. Your body gives you clues all the time!
Once you’ve got used to noticing how and what you are thinking, you won’t need to record them, because noticing will become easier and more natural to you - especially as you equate them with how you feel emotionally and physically.
Then this is the easy bit!
Alongside the challenge of noticing your thoughts comes the fun bit of adjusting them and playing with them until you feel more positive. Be open to this and treat it like an adventure! The words you use can make a massive difference, and finding a fresh focal point of ‘positive bias’ can be fun and inspiring. Once you get into the swing of this way of reframing, it will become more and more natural to you.
Ways to start to make the change to positive
I’m merely touching the surface here and dancing round the edges, because this is a huge, fun, experiential and powerful area that I cover in Leap Into Your Power workshops and seminars, and in personal coaching. There are just so many ways to find a more positive and joyful mindset, and you have to find the very best way for you!
One thing that works well for a friend of mine is this: whilst on holiday in India she bought a wonderful book full of photos of coloured fabric and embroidery. She has it propped up on a small music stand by her bed so that she sees it each morning when she wakens up. Every so often she turns the page to reveal a different image to keep things fresh and new. She loves that, as it immediately dispels any grumpiness and fires her imagination each day.
I think it's a good idea to have positive things around you as an immediate focal point when you waken up. for example, affirmations, positive quotes, paintings, photos, etc. And through the day, keep reminders with you. These could be easily accessible about your person or on your phone, so that you can reinforce positive thoughts and feelings throughout the day.
Also, research shows that a regular practice of gratitude has great benefits, so make a point of really appreciating what you have!
A client of mine once told me that "Just by starting to shift my thinking and pay attention to my thoughts first thing in the morning makes such a difference to the rest of the day.” And she is one of many who experience the same result.
Other quick and simple ways to boost the positivity bias at any point in the day could be be to smile and laugh intentionally, connect with others who are likeminded and who nourish your soul, and to sing, dance, play... The list is endless!
A word of encouragement.
I just want to add a caveat to everything I have said so far. I know that for some people there are times when it can seem impossible to think in a positive way. For example, I have two clients who I’ve been working with for a long time. We take a break every so often, because both of these women experience awful bouts of depression every now and then, and each has said that when they do, not only can they not access mentally or emotionally any of the ‘tools’ and the work that we do together, but also they sometimes can’t even remember anything we did!
I understand this, and am fine with it, because this is the nature of depression. When each woman is ready again, we simply pick up where we left off. Each say they feel greatly empowered to know that these tools are there for when they are ready to use them again. They understand how it all works, and would use them in their darkest moments if they could – but they just can’t.
And here’s the thing. Each woman says that this work ultimately makes a huge positive difference to their lives. Isn’t that wonderful?
Find out about Find Your Oomph Coaching with Caroline Carr for inspired ways to increase your confidence and boost your positivity-bias!
© August 12th 2020 Caroline Carr
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After working in the theatre and television for several years, Caroline taught drama, voice and speech in schools and prisons before becoming a life coach and hypnotherapist with a practice in Harley Street. Her personal and professional experience led to her developing a passion for teaching others how to find inner strength, confidence, positivity and joy. Hence she created Find Your Oomph. Caroline is the author of several books on mental health and women's health, and has been featured in the national press and interviewed on radio and TV.
And you may be interested to read about a well known experiment by Dr. Emoto, which shows that human consciousness really does have a direct and AMAZING effect on physical reality.
Image by Paola Aquilar