Why it’s hard to think positively
Have you ever had someone say to you ‘just think positively’? Sometimes it can be helpful, but more often than not those words can make you want to poke the other person in the eye.
The challenge with thinking positive thoughts is that the train of thought you are currently on is akin to a run away train. What started as a negative thought about something has built momentum and other similar thoughts have joined it, complete with a whole host of emotions that match the thought. And just like a run away train, it’s hard to stop, let alone change direction.
It’s not very often someone gets my goat, but yesterday they did. They made the statement that what I do is the same as counselling or CBT. The words were like a red rag to a bull (well I am Taurus).
I normally have a good relationship with the person, so I walked away without saying anything more, but the anger stayed with me, and was vented at a poor friend I met straight after for coffee.
By now my thoughts about what the person had said, had not only gathered momentum, they were heading for a full on collision.
By the time I got home I knew I had to bring out the big guns to release the anger, slow down my thoughts and switch them into neutral. So I started tapping…..within less than ten minutes my anger had subsided.
With the anger subsided I was also able to gain perspective and thought ‘OK if that’s their perception of the therapies I practice, then I need to do something to put that right’.
Next time you find yourself heading for a collision, try the following interventions…
1. Tapping using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). EFT is to negative thoughts and emotions like a hot knife is to butter. EFT is the quickest most effective way to neutralise the emotion that has built up with the negative thoughts. When you are able to feel differently about what you are thinking, then you gain the ability to see things from a different perspective and start to think more neutral and constructive thoughts.
2. Breathe. When you work yourself up into lather about something you breathe in a way that heightens your stress response, tending to take more rapid and shallow breaths. The central nervous system has two sides to it, the stress response and the relaxation response. You can influence which response the nervous system connects with through the way you breathe. To engage the relaxation response use the 7/11 breathing technique:
Place your hands on your stomach and as you breathe in for a count of seven, fill your stomach with air. Then as you breathe out for the count of 11 let your stomach deflate. If you can’t get to seven or 11 when you begin, that’s OK. Just breathe out for longer than you breathe in. Do this for a few minutes and notice just how much calmer you feel afterwards. Once calm you can begin to change your train of thought.
3. Practice Mindfulness. Instead of trying to control your thoughts, don’t think anything. Easier said than done I know! That’s why mindfulness helps. To access the power of ‘now’ and be mindful start by placing your focus of attention on what ever you are looking at. It helps if you are out and about in nature as there can be more to focus on. Don’t ‘think’ about what you are looking at, just simply ‘be’ with what you are looking at. For example if you are looking at a tree, don’t think ‘I’m looking at this tree and it’s green and has birds in it’. Simply observe the tree and how it looks, but without the need to ‘think’ about what you are seeing.