6 Steps to Positive Thinking
It is good to have a “bank” of ideas and principles which are helpful in life. The brain does work on the principle of negative and positive nerve pathways so it is important to try and balance the negative or ineffective pathways with positive or effective pathways. It is important to remember that what we think is positive or negative is not the same as what is effective or ineffective. This takes practice so the ideas below are given by way of example only.
With practice it can be much more likely that you obtain the outcomes in life rather than have them forced on you. Some of the ideas too help you to think about how you interact with people if social phobia or shyness is a problem.
Some ideas that are helpful in life you could start with…
- Always think in terms of what you want, rather than what you don’t want, until it becomes a deeply ingrained habit to think that way.
- Respond to people and situations as they are in reality not as you imagine them to be.
- Don’t blame yourself the reactions in social situations just deal with them keeping in mind the next principle below.
- It’s not what happens to you that is as important as how you react to it. So bring your reactions under control. Life is 10% what happens to you and the rest is how you react, for example, road rage, social situations.
- If you truly want to do something you will find a way; if you don’t really want to do it then you will find excuses.
- Try to be more light-hearted by remembering that in the long run things don’t matter as much as you thought they did so don’t take yourself, other people or life too seriously.
- The loss of illusions, even of your self-esteem, whilst painful at first, can lead to the discovery of your true self and a feeling of exhilaration and strength (Jung).
- Your personal worth always stays the same and does not depend on what other people say or do.
- Be optimistic about the future – the future is open.
- Remember that your mind works like an umbrella or parachute – it only works when it is open.
The 6 steps to positive thinking
- Choose a new idea and/or behaviour each day.
- Write them down in a diary the night before. (You could reinforce them with self hypnosis.)
- Go through the following day without specifically trying to recall what you wrote down as if it is really effective then it will come to mind.
- Whatever happens, write it down.
- If it wasn’t useful then probably some other ideas would be more useful so write them down for the next day.
- If they were very useful then you could even repeat what you did the following day to reinforce effectiveness. When you do this you are building up a bank of useful ideas and behaviours which you can use in your life.
This is an exercise in which you are programming your own mind rather than you have it programmed for you by old ideas and behaviour. For this reason it is called reframing as you are changing the framework of your mind to work more effectively for you. It is about choices as you realise you are not a victim of fate but instead, in any situation or with any people, you have choices of what you can do. Think then of as many choices as possible but have a minimum of three.
Reframing: Hypnosis and choices
Reframing means that a person is made to think in different ways about their problems. It makes the person see that there are choices even when the person does not think there are. The idea of having choices even in the most extreme situations comes from Viktor Frankl who was a Jewish doctor who survived W.W. II in a concentration camp.
From his experiences there he developed a method called Logotherapy, which is explained in his book; “Man’s search for meaning”. For example, he mentions a prisoner who thought that the war would end in March 1944. The prisoner was highly motivated to survive that long but when the time passed for it to finish the war continued. He died a few days later.
The point is then that giving oneself just the one choice doesn’t work. Frankl makes it clear that even in the most desperate of situations it is to realise that there are a number of choices if one looks for them. The way this works through hypnosis can be seen through reframing. It is based on the fact that the subconscious mind is highly creative and can come up with many solutions and is able to see problems from a number of different perspectives.
In hypnosis the problem is identified in as clear terms as possible. The feelings related to the problem are identified too. If the feelings seem to say there is some objection to dealing with the problem then the question is; what is the purpose behind this particular behaviour? This is related too the idea of the devil and the angel on two different shoulders one arguing against the other. The point though is to get cooperation between the two as argument only means that one is right and the other is wrong which doesn’t get things to develop. The point is to have cooperation between the two parts so they can work with each other rather than against each other. The alternative is to hang on to behaviour which is detrimental to health whether it is mental or physical health.
In using hypnosis to deal with the problem it is necessary to look at new pathways which would be less disruptive than the “old” behaviour. To work the alternatives must be at least as effective immediate and available as the “old” behaviour. The idea is to think of at least three new ways or pathways which will work. They are evaluated in terms of the three criteria of effectiveness, immediacy, availability. So the alternative must be as least as powerful as the original behaviour and preferably more powerful if it is to replace the original behaviour.
For example, in becoming a non-smoker it is important that the behaviour which is an “alternative” to smoking is at least as effective, immediate and available as the old behaviour of smoking. Suggestions that have been made to me by smokers who have come to me to become non-smokers are numerous. They mention
- drinking water
- eating fruit
- sliced carrot
- other non-fattening foods
- Keeping the hands busy in some way is often mentioned as smoking is a habit with the hands as well as an oral habit.
Any alternatives or choices have to be evaluated for their effectiveness so it is suggested that the person tries the alternatives for several weeks to see how effective they are and modify and perhaps even change them if necessary.
So in life it is important to know we do have many choices even in situations that we think we don’t. There is a saying about it from NLP,
“If you think you have no choice then you are dead. If you think you have one choice you are a victim. If you have two choices then that is a dilemma as it is one or the other. So choose to have three choices or even more which gets you up to choice”.
There is a separate exercise on reframing which can be useful to do in combination with the above exercise. This can be carried out in a session of therapy in Newport or Cardiff clinics. If you are interested in booking a session or would like some further information please contact me.