How did we get to Monday again? Is it just me or is time speeding up as we slide down the slippery slope to Christmas?? The above photo is a picture my son took in our garden over the weekend. Spring is here!!
Here's a quick thought to get you started in your week. I hope you enjoy!
I was at a conference last week where the speaker asked the following question to the audience: "Who here has struggled with stress or anxiety where they spend hours thinking repetitive negative thoughts or ruminating about a situation?" Pretty much everyone (or all the honest ones anyway) put up their hands. "Well", he said, "you all know how to meditate! How about we all learn how to meditate on something positive??" We all laughed, but it's a pretty good point eh? We all know how to feel anxious, or fearful or sad - sometimes for long periods at a time. But how many of us are good at feeling happy or excited or confident?
As we've discussed before, the field of Neuroscience has progressed so far lately. We've seen that what we do with our thoughts matters. It's like piling pebbles into a heap. Whatever we think about gets bigger and heavier. So let's start piling pebbles into positive piles eh? (100 points to me for alliteration!)
But how you say?? Here's a simple but effective little exercise you can do.
Often we have a negative label for ourselves; (actually we usually have more than one!) For example: "I'm so ________" Or, "I could never do that because I'm so ___________" Think of the times you tell yourself off. What are some of the common words you use? Choose one.
Right. Now, think about this. If you weren't so _________, what would you like to be? For example, if I feel like I'm fearful, something I would like to be is confident. Try not to be too black and white with it. For example, if I feel like I'm a failure - I don't want to be perfect (because no-one is perfect at anything); but I would like to be competent, or adventurous, or industrious, or skilled.
Now that you have your word, I'd like you to take a moment, breathe a little, get comfortable and think about the following questions: (For this example I'm going to use the word "Confident.")
- If I was a confident person, how would I feel?
- What would I know about myself? How does it feel to know this?
- How would my body feel? What would my posture be like - or my walk? Would I make eye contact? (Imagine and feel the changes in your body now. Move your body into the posture you're imagining. How does it feel?)
- What would it be like for me to feel confident while meeting someone new? How would I act? What would my body language look like? How would I feel? What would my self talk be?
- If I was a confident person and I made a mistake, how would I react?
- What would it be like if I was facing a new challenge and I felt confident? How would I approach the challenge? What would I know about myself?
- What would it be like for me if I succeeded at something? How would I feel as I let myself celebrate? How would I let myself feel as someone congratulated me?
- Spend as much time feeling confident, and in many different ways for as long as you can.
Each time your mind wanders, or you have a distracting thought like: "this is stupid - I can never be ________" just acknowledge the thought, let it slide and bring your attention gently back to whatever you are imagining. The more you practice it, the better you'll get.
The thing with this is, if we have a negative belief like "I am fearful" then that's all we believe we are. This is called Black and White thinking. (See Thinking Mistakes Resource). But things are never black and white are they? We exist along a continuum of grey areas. Even if I feel I'm fearful, there are still parts of me that are less than completely fearful. There are parts of me that might be inquisitive, or excited or courageous or bold. (I just tend to minimise or discount those parts). The point of this exercise is to get me to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Even if the positive is just making the choice to get out of bed in the morning, it's still positive. It's still there. It's still you not giving up.
And the more I focus on, and imagine, and feel, and think about - the more I realize that I actually DO know how to be courageous. And the more familiar I am with this - the more likely (and able) I will be to act this way next time.
See how it works?
So go, think on something positive about yourself. Because what you think on grows!