Are you constantly battling negative thoughts?
Would you like to feel more positive?
It is possible to shift your negative thinking and mood with a simple process backed by science, which will help you feel good! There are small changes you can make so you feel good about yourself and achieve an overall sense of wellbeing.
We are wired to remember anything and everything that is painful, thanks to our ancient, highly effective warning system, which is the fight or flight response, that keeps us safe and alive. This system is essential when it comes to survival, but not when it comes to feeling good on a day-to-day basis.
We are not wired to remember positive experiences as easily as negative ones. We are all good at having experiences, but many of our day-to-day experiences are fleeting. Very often, we don’t even recall the positive parts of our days after a little time has passed.
So, the question is, how can we change our nervous system to feel more positive? The method is known as experience dependent plasticity. Experience dependent plasticity is the continuing process of creating and re-organizing neuron connections in your brain, depending on your life experiences.
One way to influence your neurons in a positive direction is to access positive memories. By immersing yourself in a positive memory, you “re-experience the event” contained in the memory. Your senses are re-engaged, and your emotions are re-experienced. This process helps reduce negative feelings and introduces calm and feelings of warmth.
A positive affirmation or self-talk is an optimistic statement we create that resonates for us. It is more effective if it’s in the present tense and includes an optimistic future.
It’s helpful to state affirmations in the positive, as the brain may be confused with a statement that includes a negative word. For example, an affirmation like “I am not going to fail” is not as effective as “I am going to be successful.”
Make sure your affirmations are specific and brief, and use action and feeling words. Stating your positive affirmation keeps your attention in a powerful place, and your brain can create new circuits in response.
When you are experiencing negative thoughts and feelings, try this 3-step process to make a positive shift:
You can ask yourself these questions:
1. Where are you?
2. What do you see?
If there is another person with you, focus on his or her face. What do you see?
Savor it for a few minutes.
Finally, practice, practice, practice!
Repetition is key. Through repetition, the brain lays down neural connections, becoming more efficient. If you spend time practicing, you will be able to shift your thinking and become more positive.
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Sonal Dani, LMFT and certified CBT therapist has been working in the mental health field for over 14 years. Sonal is also certified functional-nutrition educator and has expertise in the integration of mind-body modalities and psychotherapy. Through compassionate exploration, Sonal help individuals and couples understand and resolve the root cause of their issues. She helps people of diverse backgrounds cultivate practices that are sustaining to life-long emotional and mental health. Specifically, Sonal provides integrative psychotherapy services, which combine the healing power of insight- oriented psychotherapy with education about lifestyle and nutritional tools that have shown scientific efficacy in improving mental health symptoms.