Thinking positive is one of the most scientifically-proven ways to cure stress, says a new study.
There are certain patients I see on a regular basis who always leave me feeling depressed and in a negative frame of mind. This can happen when I have spent only a few minutes with them.
These people appear to have one thing in common, an air of negative thinking. Nothing will ever work for them, there is always something worse just around the corner, and when I do achieve the impossible and a symptom disappears, another one rapidly appears to take its place.
Patients such as these are labelled ‘heart-sinks’ by doctors, and there is a danger that once such a label is attached to them it sticks, and genuine symptoms can be ignored. Even hypochondriacs have to die of something.
Such people illustrate how their negative thinking rubs off on others and affects their lives. It has the effect of a dripping tap if it is allowed to continue, and drags us down until we lose self-confidence. How many times have you found yourself saying, ‘Oh, I couldn’t do that,’ to someone asking you to do something, simply because you have assumed you could not?
In order to break this pattern you need ordered and regular training – a mental workout, in fact. Books have been written on this subject, but I use three main ways to turn negative thinking around:
For ten minutes each evening for a week, squeeze a small rubber ball while repeating the phrase ‘Do it right, do it now, do it positively.’ (You can achieve the same effect by putting a rubber band on your wrist and lightly flicking it.) This links positive thoughts to that action. When you are in situations where negative thinking occurs, squeeze or flick and you will notice a boost of positive thought to help you. After a while you will not need props; simply by squeezing your fist or touching your wrist you will trigger a positive response.
Carry with you, or have near you, reminders of personal achievements or phrases or sayings that make you feel good. These don’t have to be well-known, in fact, the more personal they are the better. They can be cards carried in your wallet, pocket or handbag on which you have written sayings from the family, your partner or anyone else, as long as they inspire you.
Beside my computer I keep my medals for finishing the London Marathon. The fact that I ran a slow time and staggered to the end is irrelevant; they remind me that ‘I can do it’ despite my reservations. It does not matter what you choose, as long as you have positive images around to challenge negative thinking.
Accept that you will have bad days when you are in a black mood. Instead of viewing these as never-ending, think of the next day as a clean slate on which you can draw what you want to happen. It may not work out quite the way you plan, but half a day of positive thinking is better than none.
Some people use positive thinking almost as a way of distancing themselves from reality. If they think about it hard enough, every thing in the world can be all right. This is not only ridiculous but dangerous. Positive thought is not about ignoring how difficult life is at times, but gives you an extra edge at work and at home. Remember, it is your thinking that is negative and not your life.
Think positive. Negative thoughts pollute your life, affecting your behaviour and other people’s reaction to you. Positive thoughts breed positive responses.