“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” Mahatma Gandhi
Positive and negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies: What we expect can often come true.
If you start off thinking that you’ll mess up a task, the chances are that you will: You may not try hard enough to succeed, you won’t attract support from other people, and you may not perceive any results as good enough.
Positive thinking, on the other hand, is often associated with positive actions and outcomes. You have hope and faith in yourself and others, and you work and invest hard to prove that your optimism is warranted. You’ll enthuse others, and they may well “pitch in” to help you. This makes constructive outcomes allthe more likely.
When it comes down to it, positive, optimistic people are happier and healthier, and enjoy more success than those who think negatively. The key difference between them is how they think about and interpret the events in their life. So, how do you think about your successes and failures? Do you have a predictable thinking pattern?
The first step in changing negative thinking is to become aware of it. For many of us, negative thinking is a bad habit – and we may not even know we’re doing it!
When you’re aware of the way you think, you can take action to use positive situations to your advantage, and re-shape the negative ones. The goal is to think positively, regardless of the situation, and make a conscious effort to see opportunities instead of obstacles.
Quite often, our experience of stress comes from our perception of a situation. Often that perception is right, but sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we are unreasonably harsh with ourselves, or jump to wrong conclusions about people’s motives, and this can send us into a downward spiral of negative thinking.
The most commonly accepted definition of stress is that it occurs when a person believes that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize”. In short, it’s when we feel out of control.
When people feel stressed, they have made two main judgments: First, they feel threatened by the situation, and second, they believe that they’re not able to meet the threat. How stressed someone feels depends on how much the situation can hurt them, and how closely their resources meet the demands of the situation.
Perception is key to this as (technically!) situations are not stressful in their own right. Rather it is our interpretation of the situation that drives the level of stress that we feel.
Quite obviously, we are sometimes right in what we say to ourselves. Some situations may actually be dangerous, may threaten us physically, socially or in our career. Here, stress and emotion are part of the early warning system that alerts us to a threat.
Very often, however, we are overly harsh and unjust to ourselves in a way that we would never be with friends or co-workers. This, along with other negative thinking, can cause intense stress and unhappiness and can severely undermine our self-confidence.
Six Steps for Turning Negative Stressors into Positive Challenges.
1. Identify The Stressor (Example: new role at work with more responsibility)
2. Identify Your Self Talk (I already have too much to do!)
3. What I Feel: Frustrated, Angry
4. Negative Stressor Renamed As A Positive: My boss needs my expertise for
this important project
5. New Self Talk: He/she needs me for this one! I am a valued team member
6. What I Feel: Proud, Successful