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The power of positive thinking and self-talk!




Understanding positive thinking and self-talk


Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.


Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions you create because of lack of information, or past stories you've continuously told yourself and held on to.

The health benefits of positive thinking


Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. One theory is, having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.


There are many health benefits to positive thinking! Increased life span, lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress, greater resistance to the common cold, better psychological and physical well-being, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, better coping skills during hardships and times of stress.

Identifying negative thinking


Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Some common forms of negative self-talk include:


· Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. That evening, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.

· Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.

· Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think the rest of your day will be a disaster.

· Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you're a total failure.

Focusing on positive thinking


You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and PRACTICE — you're creating a new habit! Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:


· Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life you usually think negatively about, whether it's work, your daily commute or a relationship. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.

· Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.

· Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.

· Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Keep in mind exercise doesn't have to be a sweat-drenched weightlifting workout in a gym. Exercise is movement! Dance, walk, garden, try yoga, lift weights, just move every day! Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn techniques to manage stress.

· Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.

· Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. Think about things you're thankful for in your life.

Putting positive thinking in to practice: negative self-talk vs. positive thinking!


-I’ve never done this before vs. This is an opportunity to learn something new

-It’s too complicated vs. I’ll tackle it from a different angle

-There’s no way I can make this work vs. I can put in my best effort to try to make this work

-It’s too radical of a change vs. Let’s take a chance!

Practicing positive thinking every day


If you tend to have a negative outlook, don't expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you. When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you're better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way.




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