“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts, we make the world”
This quote sums up the concept of positive thinking perfectly. If you think positive, you will act positive and will have the courage to take ownership of your life. A really simple example of positive thinking is when I go running. If I focus on the fact I’m gasping for air or my knees are hurting – I tend to give up. If I give myself all sorts of compliments and motivational talk, VOILA, I complete my run.
However, life isn’t always as simple as a run and positive thinking is not about always being happy. Positive thinking is about recognising and understanding our own thoughts then addressing them in the right way. One purpose of positive thinking is that it will help you develop the emotional skills to deal with any challenges that life throws at you. Let’s be honest, some of which are downright unfair.
Unfortunately, my sister was diagnosed with Behçet’s disease several years ago. For many people, although a diagnosis is welcome, an answer brings with it reality and feelings of fear, injustice, anger and sadness. I admire my sister as she is the most generous, kind and bubbly friend you can have and even being faced with Behçet’s she continues to have this outlook on life. I asked my sister what has helped following her diagnosis and she said “reminding myself of what makes me happy, remembering what I’m lucky for in my life and all the good things I deserve”.
Although my sister has a good understanding of herself, she gave an honest account of how she does get down days – which is completely normal. She highlighted the importance of allowing herself time to recharge without feeling guilty about this or comparing herself to others.
At this point she quoted Rupaul:
“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
(If you haven’t guessed already, things that make my sister feel happy are outrageously flamboyant and camp)
But in the world of social media, not making comparisons can be increasingly difficult. I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as dull and like to keep myself active, but, on top of a working week, sometimes all I want to do is chill. So I plan a weekend of exactly this, but then the weekend comes, and I scroll through my phone. Uh Oh – as I look at pictures of “friends” doing fabulous things, I forget about all the exciting things I do and start to think how people must see me as boring. At this point my planned Saturday night of indulgence takes a rapid downward spiral.
The easiest thing to do is put your phone away. If you don’t see a picture of Sophie sunning it up in the Seychelles in the first place, you won’t be thinking about her. You will be engrossed in your favourite Netflix twist or steamy scene!
However, if comparisons do set in, try to rationalise the situation. For me, the easiest way to do this is to think about what one of my girls would say to me or what I would say to them and what do you know? I definitely don’t consider them boring for having a night in.
Another great way to challenge negative thoughts is explained in the telegraph article ‘How to Harness the Power of Negative Thoughts’ The article states negative thoughts are natural and can be positive, it is suggested an effective way to respond to negative thoughts is to think about where the thought has come from. This is helpful as it can motivate a person and remind them of their values.
For example, in my own life, after I didn’t get the first two jobs I applied for, I felt useless compared to others off my course who had secured employment. This thought encouraged me to recognise how much I wanted a social work position and encouraged me to continue working hard. In this situation, as well as me responding to my negative thoughts positively, being told how I was viewed by people close to me was really powerful. It made me see that I wasn’t hopeless and enabled me to focus on building on my strengths (FYI the next interview was mine!). Next time you think someone is showing an admirable quality – tell them what it is, as these kind words, might be all someone needs to stay strong or make a change.
I hope this post gives you an insight into the concept of positive thinking and how it can be applied in everyday life. There are loads of interesting resources out there where you can find more information on developing your positive thinking skills.
I will be writing more about positive thinking as my blog develops, however, for now; I’d love for you to share your experiences and tips on positive thinking?