How many times have you said to yourself, “I wish my mind would just shut itself off. I need to sleep!” Then you began thrashing around in bed, trying to find a comfortable position … never quite finding it. Mind on go. Body exhausted. Beating yourself up for having a sleep problem. Angry and at a loss for a solution.
It is no wonder our minds are racing and we're problem solving at 3 o'clock in the morning. Most of us have a lot of stress. Research states the average human has between 7, 500 and 70,000 thoughts per day depending on how the researcher defines thought and what is going on in a person's life. Deep thinkers have more thoughts than other people. If you are reading and studying, you'll naturally have more thoughts. If you are on vacation, relaxing on the beach, you'll probably have fewer thoughts.
Between 70% and 85% of our thoughts are negative. Shockingly, an average person thinks positively barely 30% of the time. All of that negativity causes us to stay in an emotionally aroused state, creating a chronic fight or flight syndrome. We get wound up in a negative idea and just can't seem to let it go. Our adrenal glands are overworked, therefore our body is on overload. Exhausted, we begin to wonder if something bad is going to happen and then we begin to worry about the worry. At this stage of overload, we enter a state of complete overwhelm.
If your family members are anxious, negative thinkers and worriers, you learned negative thinking during childhood. You learned to respond to situations with stress, anxiety and negative thoughts, always wondering about or predicting a negative outcome. You learned words like “What if”, “I should have, “You can't” and “Impossible.”
Research has proven the existence of an anxiety gene. If you are a habitual negative thinker and a chronic worrier, it is possible that part of your anxiety is the result of your genetics. Whatever the source of stress, when negativity becomes the favored coping skill, it can easily grow into an addiction, just like alcohol or food misuse can grow into addictions. Individuals in a state of overwhelm, with a great need to relieve emotional pain, will often choose a negative coping skill to separate themselves from situations and challenges too difficult for them to face. For some, that favored coping skill is anxiety and negative thinking. Even with all this, there is good news. You can learn to manage your anxiety and the associated negative thinking. You can become a positive thinking, positive behaving person even if you are genetically challenged by an anxiety gene. You can achieve your goal!
You already know that anxiety and negative thinking are natural partners. You may not have associated anxiety and negative thinking with depression. However, if you monitor your thinking, you'll notice you have far more anxiety and negative thoughts on sad-depressed days than you do on happier days. In fact we help create our moods, happy and depressed, with our thoughts. That is why creating positive thought aids in the treatment of anxiety and depression, some believing that positive thought coupled with cognitive therapy is as effective as an anti-depressant.
Learning to think positively is a process. During process learning you progress one step at a time, and begin to apply your new knowledge one step at a time. Many of you will learn neutral thinking before you can become positive thinkers. However, it is important to know that real change, the kind you are looking for, comes about through positive thought. Ohly positive thoughts carry a strong enough energetic vibration to lift you out of depression or prevent a panic attack. Neutral thoughts do indicate progress, and let you know positive change is taking place.
Let's look at some definitions and explanations so you'll have a road map to guide your journey into positive thought. Think about positive thought as creating an inner oasis of peace, joy and wellness. Your inner oasis imagery of an ever-replenishing, peaceful, loving place will help you succeed. Lets take a look at the three kinds of thought: Negative Thought, Neutral Thought and Positive Thought.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT is the opposite of positive thought. Therefore, when we are thinking negatively each thought is made up of negative words. This may sound obvious, but it is not. Negative thinkers have what is called 'automatic negative thinking'. In the face of a challenge, a life change or an illness thoughts go automatically to negative outcomes, and it may seem you can't redirect them to the possibility of positive outcomes. Even though these automatic negative thoughts are meant to be barriers that separate you from imagined pain, they block progress, create more anxiety and depression and maybe even cause so much internal imbalance that you begin to have panic attacks. From this point, because your body is compromised by it's heavy stress load, some people move into actual disease states and develop mental, emotional or physical disorders. Internal physical balance is necessary for good health.
NEUTRAL THOUGHT is somewhere in the middle between negative and positive. Yet, the thoughts are not really a little bit positive or a little bit negative. They still usually contain many negative words. Even a positive thought usually has a negative qualifier. Some examples: “I feel horrible today, but I'll be better tomorrow” - “It is hard to be happy on days like this, but I'm trying.”
Any POSITIVE THOUGHT has three components: Positive Content, Positive Intention, and Positive Outcome. Positive content has to do with choosing positive words when you think and speak. Positive intention reflects your desire and makes clear the positive outcome you want to create. An outcome is the result of your thinking. Positive thoughts drive positive outcomes. Positive outcomes rarely, if ever, occur through negative thinking.
The Steps to Creating Positive Thought
1. A commitment to changing your self-talk and your automatic negative thinking.
2. Learn to recognize your negative thoughts. They are usually so habitual and so frequent that negative thoughts feel normal. The feeling of normalcy makes them easy to miss. It will take a bit of time for you to isolate them. Catch as many as you can … in the beginning it might notice one or two a day. Real change begins with the first negative thought you identify.
3. Learn to recognize the neutral thoughts that contain negative qualifiers.
4. Once you can recognize a negative thought, or a neutral thought with a negative qualifier, begin to label your thoughts. Sad. Resentful. Judgmental. Guilty. Shameful. Fearful. Worried. Failure. Lack of confidence. Self-loathing. Once you get started, you may realize that most of your negative thoughts come from the same few categories.
5. Once you are able to label your thoughts, begin to rephrase the negative thought into a positive thought.
6. Make a commitment to rephrase every identified negative thought as you notice it. This creates a healthier more balanced physical environment.
7. Reward your self for a job well done – you are making positive changes to your health from inside out! Congratulations.
Here are some examples of labeling a negative thought and rephrasing into a positive thought.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT: Fear - I know if I do this I am going to get sick.
POSITIVE THOUGHT: My body and immune system are strong and efficient.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT: Anger, Judgment - Sam is an idiot. Only an idiot would behave like that.
POSITIVE THOUGHT: Sam is feeling challenged. I wish him well.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT: Lack of confidence - Why am I so stupid? I keep making the same mistake.
POSITIVE THOUGHT: I have the ability to be successful.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT: Guilt - I wish I hadn't said that. I could kill myself.
POSITIVE THOUGHT: I am committed to being, thinking and behaving in positive ways.
Martin Seligman, a Penn State University researcher in the field of positive thinking states these benefits to positive thought. http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/bio.htm
Persistence – not giving up under pressure
Natural antidote for chronic depression
Optimists experience less stress and expect good outcomes
Stronger immune system and fewer illnesses
Longer life expectancy
Because negative thinking can become physical imbalance or disease, it is often necessary to supplement your body with specific nutrition. New research studies for the nutritional treatment of anxiety, depression and other emotional issues are growing in number. Safe Harbor at http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/articles/walsh.htm has a lot of reliable, research based information you might enjoy reading.
The Nutritional Journal has excellent information and you can find it at http://www.nutritionj.com/content/7/1/2 . Please take the time to view this chart matching diagnosis with appropriate nutrients. http://www.nutritionj.com/content/7/1/2/table/T1 The chart is worth a look if you have sincere interest in nutritional treatments.
Also explore Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/ Dr. Pauling was one of the pioneers in the field of nutritional treatment for emotional symptomology.
Looking for a holistic psychiatrist? You'll want to research under the heading orthomolecular psychiatry. The treatment you receive may be a combination of traditional medication and mega-nutritional therapy. Or, the treatment may be completely nutritional.
Change your life. Create a “positive addiction” with constant, beautiful positive thought.
Janet Nestor is a Diplomat in in Energy Psychology, and a Mental Health Therapist who practices holistically. You can find her Facebook Pathways to Wholeness Mindfulness Discussion page at www.facebook.com/pathwaystowholeness To purchase her book Pathways to Wholenss click http://amzn.to/c9cyP6. Her bi-monthly articles appear in Sibyl on line ezine for women. Introduce yourself to Sibyl ezine by clicking http://sibylmagazine.com/ Her blog, www.mindfulpathways.com is a great place to get to know her, find information about her classes and download your free mindfulness meditations. Please join Janet's Twitter family at http://twitter.com/#!/JanetNestor and when you do write her a note to say hello! Her tweets are identified by #mindfulpathways.