It’s many years since I first came across the concept of positive thinking, and I was reminded of it again recently, reading a book by Wayne Dyer. As with so many things, it’s easy to forget, and important to remember!
When we get caught in those negative cycles where our emotions make us miserable and colour everything, we are literally weakening ourselves. It affects our immune system, our physical strength, and our energy levels adversely.
On the other hand, our positive moods improve our health, our strength and our energy, which is great. The problem is, we can’t force ourselves into positivity – that just doesn’t work. Nor can we pretend everything’s okay and put on a positive face – that doesn’t have the same effect.
So what can we do when we hit the difficult times, when things upset us in some way?
Well, firstly, we can acknowledge it. When we recognise that we are feeling negative in some way, we have to step to one side of the feeling a bit, and observe it. This gives us the first step towards doing something about it.
Then we can identify whether we have a good reason for our feelings or if we have got something out of proportion. To do this, we need to weigh up the good and bad things in our lives, or our behaviour, or that of others.
For example, I may be miserable because I have a stinking cold, but when I consider it, it’s not my usual state – I’m relatively healthy – and it won’t last for long. Or I may feel bad because I snapped at someone unnecessarily, but this isn’t my habitual behaviour with them or anybody else, and I can just say sorry. Or someone may have been unpleasant with me, but they are not someone whom I count as a close friend, so sod them! These are all examples of getting it out of proportion, and we can reduce their effect just by noticing.
On the other hand, we may realise that there is something which we have been pushing to one side in our thoughts, yet which does have a negative effect on our lives. Examples might be: we’ve gradually developed bad eating habits, or we’ve become rather critical of others, or that friend or relative is always putting us down. In these cases, we need to do something about it.
Firstly, we need to imagine how we will be when this is no longer part of the story. It’s not enough to go: ‘I’d be feeling better without this.’ We need to make it a really good picture with lots of ideas about how it would have a better effect on us, on our relationships, our energy and our actions – all the knock-on positive effects. This gives us a compelling reason to make a move.
Often we haven’t tackled it because it looked too big or difficult to handle. If this is the case, we need to identify some simple small first steps we can take towards rectifying it. For example, I may decide to make my own fresh healthy dinner once a week, or buy one less chocolate bar. Then we can feel a sense of achievement, however small. This leads on to another small step, and helps us to gradually work our way through the issue.
Sometimes what we really need, in order to do something about the negative effect, is an ally – someone to encourage us, praise us for the small steps we make, someone to help us keep going. This is why people go to that gym session or painting class with a friend. And most people love playing this role of ally – it’s positive for them too.
Life is too valuable to waste on negativity. You are too! If something is bringing you down, it’s time to turn it around, and make your life feel good again.