Generating Positive Energy
by Sylvia Mills, Ph.D.
We have all experienced being around positive people who shine with energy, goodwill, and vivacity. They have an aura of confidence and success; they smile and appear confident; they enjoy life.
When you worry about something you can do nothing about, you drain your mental energy. Each time you think negatively, a neurological pathway in your brain fires--and that negative thought, plus the mood associated it, is activated. The more negatives you think, the more frequently negative pathways are activated and the worse you feel about yourself.
Thought Stopping is a technique for replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. Habitual thoughts have well-established neurological pathways and, just like using a pathway in a forest, the more traffic the pathway gets, the bigger it becomes. Establishing a new pathway takes work. If every time you trigger a negative, you use this to consciously replace it with a positive and make that positive more powerful, you can create new neurological pathways that change your thinking habits.
Kevin's knee jerk reaction was always: "I'm stupid." He thought he wasn't good enough to apply for a promotion, and someone less qualified got the job. Sheila's negative reaction was always, "I'm not good enough." She did not have the confidence to apply to college and very day she punished herself for not having a degree. Negative reactions are triggered in lots of different situations. Any difficulty, disappointment, or hardship triggers their negative thoughts and negative feelings like frustration, anger, exasperation, doubt, misery, depression and anxiety and these are all directed at themselves. "You're just like your [terrible] father." "You'll never amount to anything."... "You've been a misery since you were born."... "You're stupid."... "What's wrong with you?"... We often repeat negative statements our parents made to us when we were children. One time, my mother told me, "You were born in sorrow." After that, if something went wrong, her words haunted me like an awful superstition. I bet you have your superstitions, self-critical thoughts too. So, how do you get rid of them?
The Thought Stopping Technique: The technique is easy: every time a negative thought strikes, you replace it with a reasonable, alternative, positive thought. You repeat this positive thought aloud, and if possible, write it down. Saying positive thoughts employs multiple brain processes: the frontal lobes for decision-making; language centers for expressing and comprehending speech; auditory centers for hearing; lower brain centers for breathing and coordination; motor strip for muscle movement; temporal lobes, hypothalamus and limbic system for mood and memory. When we write, we activate visual processing, eye-hand coordination, spatial skills and the kinesthetic feel of reading and writing.
Next time any nasty, negative thoughts strike you: create realistic alternatives. "I'm ugly," can change to "I look okay," or "I have a nice smile."
After two or three weeks of practice it becomes second nature to self-correct. If you have thoughts like: No-one likes me; I'm never good enough; I'm stupid; I'm a rotten person; who'd want to be my friend, try these kinds of substitutes: * I have friends: I am likeable * It's normal to make mistakes: I'm not stupid. * I'm not perfect: I have good qualities.
Make creating positives your new feel-good habit! Positive self-talk nourishes not only your emotional and psychological health but also your physical health and well-being via the body-mind connection.
Finally, if people see you talking to yourself, now there are so many cell phones around, you won't even raise an eyebrow!
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