When I was a teenager, I was a real worrier. I’d often spend my Sunday evenings, working myself up into a complete frenzy about how certain situations at school would work out. My little brain would go into over drive, imagining things that hadn’t even happened. I’d convince myself I would fail the math exam coming up, or my drama presentation would be a complete flop and everyone would laugh at me. I look back now and realise that I was in fact a prisoner of my own negative thoughts. Many a Sunday evening would be clouded by my worries, and in turn cause me a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. A little cloud of anxiousness, created by a fear within my own head.
As I grew older and under went my own spiritual training, I began to accept, that if I wanted to live a positive, happy and fulfilled life, I needed to learn to control my own negative thought patterns. For I believe, like the Buddha once taught, the energetic vibrations of our thoughts, attract experiences to us and therefore we become what we think.
Become truly aware of your thought patterns – There is nothing wrong with having negative thoughts, we are human, lets face it, it’s going to happen. But when it does, try to really acknowledge that thought and take time to explore it, replacing it with a positive action. For example, you are due to give a presentation at work, and you realise you are thinking that it is all going to go wrong. You are going to slip up, forget the words, not get your point across and the boss is going to hate it! As soon as you truly acknowledge that thought. Stop. Breathe and explore the that it is in fact totally pointless convincing yourself this is going to happen, as in truth, when you really look at the situation, you actually have no clue how it is going to turn out! You are simply falling into the pattern of your own negative thought process. Explore the possibility that it could in fact go marvelously well, you may deliver a presentation that everyone finds interesting and enjoyable. Your points are seen as strong and encouraging, and your boss in fact loves it! Don’t allow your negative thoughts to own you, acknowledge them, but don’t attach yourself to them. When you refuse to give them power, they will dispel on their own accord.
Every time a negative thought arises write down 3 things that are positive in your life – My own spiritual tutor gave me this task when I first started teachings with her. It was a gracious way of teaching me the art of being thankful. When completed properly, every day, it really is helpful in keeping your mind focused on all that is good in your life. The trick is to think of 3 different things every time. It can be as simple as being grateful that your train was on time, you wake up and the sun is shining, you are able to enjoy a fresh sandwich and a cup of coffee at lunch time. Or you can explore more meaningful reasons why you are happy. You are grateful for your loving partner, your clean bill of health, your beautiful kids or the roof over your head.
The Power of Positive Mantras – During times of challenge or turmoil, I love to write mantra’s on little post it notes and I stick them around my house and office. A will say them in my mind every time I see one. For me, they act as a gentle reminder that I am in fact completely in charge of my thought process. I use sayings such as “Everything is always as it should be, I grow with every challenging experience”, “Positive thought is positive action”, “Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” You can obviously make up your own.
Be mindful of playing the victim – For some, life is a complicated journey of stresses, strains and constant challenges. For others, life is a wonderful adventure, full of exciting opportunities to grow, experience and develop. When we truly start to accept that our thoughts have a direct and powerful effect on the world around us and the experiences we face, challenges suddenly become a learning tool, rather than an opportunity to dwell in self-pity, sadness or worry. When something challenging happens, truly step back and take the opportunity to explore that experience in a completely different light. Acknowledge how the situation is making you feel, and explore how those feelings are showing you or teaching you something. I truly believe, every experience is sent to teach us something, that in itself, helps me embrace both the good and the moments that take a little more insight to accept.
Create a positive vision board or personal journal – Positive thought needs to be backed up with positive action. During quiet times I like to write down in a journal what I want to achieve in my life or where I see myself in the next 12 months. This applies to personal goals, emotional well-being, career path and family life. For me, writing it down actually reinforces it my mind. I am putting out to the universe through my thoughts and actions, of where I want my life to be heading. In my office I have a vision board, on it I have pinned various photographs, magazine cuttings and sentences or words. Each give me inspiration every time I look at them, reminding me of the things that make me happy and keep me motivated. I change it every 6-12 months.
Embrace the silence – In the west in general, we find it exceptionally difficult to embrace silence. To simply be present in pure wholeness, with no noise, no distractions and no interruptions that are constantly demanding our attention. To just simply sit, and be comfortable with the healing light of ‘nothingness’, is actually one of the most positive actions you can honour yourself with, every day. Stillness forces us to be comfortable with ourselves in our truest form. It enables us to be present in the moment, with everything else stripped away, things that usually pull us in every direction. Stillness, invites you to truly discover yourself, including your thought patterns and subsequent emotions. If you find silence too overwhelming to begin with, you may find your mind chattering away too much (which is fine by the way), then try listening to a short 10 minute meditation for positive thought. There are many on Youtube, or various mindfulness websites. Try and do this at least twice a day, preferably in the morning and in the evening. Learning techniques that will help you to tap into your deeper nature and explore the reasons behind your thoughts, will help you to gradually view them in a more productive light.
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