Think of a time when you were feeling perfectly well, and then a colleague at work said, "Are you feeling OK? You look tired." Suddenly, you see yourself in your mind's eye, looking tired, with grey skin and bags under your eyes. Perhaps a memory of when you were last sick pops up. All of a sudden, you recall that you went to bed late last night, and although you hadn't really felt tired up till then, it makes sense that you should. Quickly, those thoughts change into their material equivalent: your shoulders droop and you feel exhausted!
The words we say to ourself and others, as well as those we hear, generate positive thoughts or negative ones, and these are quickly transformed into behaviours and emotional states. Here are seven ways to use your own words to generate positive outcomes.
1. Reword your malady. If you don't feel well or you're tired, never tell anyone that. Instead, tell them, "I could use more energy," or "Once I'm fit and healthy, I'll be fine." Every time you say something like "I'm feeling depressed," you're simply adding to your burden, albeit unintentionally. The more you repeat your complaints, the worse you'll feel.
2. Stay away from limiting words. Avoid words such as "cannot" when referring to yourself. Instead, reach for a higher-energy statement such as, "When I can..." Also avoid words such as "hopefully," or "maybe," or "one day," because when you use those words you are really saying, "I'd like to, but I can't."
3. Avoid destructive words. Remove words like "hate" from your vocabulary. Instead of, "I hate it when that happens," try "I prefer it when..." This is not easy to do, and you'll forget. But if you attempt to make a few small changes in your speech you'll see a big improvement in outcome. A friend of mine has been telling me for 15 years that he hates his job. Over time, he's gradually found himself getting more of what he doesn't want.
4. Begin and end each communication on an up note. This is especially important when using electronic media. It's imperative that the last message you type is a positive word leading to positive thoughts. Try, "Best," or "Cheers," or "Keep smiling." Because you wrote it, you get the benefit. The recipient reads it, gets an image of a smiling friend, and receives a lift from it too.
5. Start and end your day with a positive thought. Before you go to sleep at night, thank yourself for a great day. When you wake up, the first words in your head should be something like, "I feel absolutely fantastic, and I know today is a successful day for me."
6. Speak the words aloud when out of earshot. Say the words from step five out loud. This may feel at first like the onset of insanity, but soon you'll be able to afford the best psychiatrists money can buy!
7. When you're down, use an affirming statement. Whenever something irritates or depresses you during the day, take a deep breath and silently pump yourself back up with an affirming statement filled with lots of adjectives and adverbs. Try, "I feel absolutely, amazingly, vibrantly healthy!" Notice how your energy level changes. It really does work!
Using words to generate positive thoughts and emotions is something you can begin right now and change your life. It requires no monetary investment, no time, and only a little effort. From this moment on, before you speak, take a little breath, smile, pause...and then map out your better thoughts in stronger words. Just try it for a day and see how differently things work out for you.
Remembering all the good things that you have makes it a whole lot easier not to focus on what you don't have. Being thankful and appreciating the abundance in your life -- rather than dwelling on what feels lacking -- is rule #1 for shifting your thinking from negative to positive.
Once you've minimized your interaction with the negative Nancies in your life, creating an inner circle filled with support and encouragement is the next step. Having people around who see the best in you will help you see the best in yourself.
Break up with your toxic friends and say goodbye to the boyfriend or girlfriend who brings you down. Minimizing negative energy in your environment is a prerequisite to overcoming negativity in your thinking.
The easiest way to fall into the negativity trap is by making yourself a victim. But on the flipside, to take responsibility for your own actions is to take charge of your own happiness. Remind yourself daily that although we may not be able to control what happens to us, we are always in charge of our reactions.
This one may take practice, but it really works. Changing your sentence structure from negative to positive (From "Why do I always get bad grades on chem exams?" to "It might not have been what I hoped, but I know my next grade will be better") is key to shifting your perceptions from can't to can. Make a concerted effort to see challenges as opportunities, and watch as doors open where there were none before.
Getting into the habit of being kind and forgiving to others will help you extend the same courtesy to yourself. And when you're a friend to yourself, it's a whole lot easier to forgive yourself for your mistakes and cultivate a positive outlook for your future. And if you believe in karma, well, what goes around comes around.
Events and situations aren't inherently good or bad -- we just project those descriptions onto them. This means that we have a great deal of power over how we choose to view whatever comes our way -- deciding to focus on the positive is a powerful way to take charge in your life.
Signing up for a weekly yoga class or committing to 10 minutes of mediation before bed each night can go a long way in helping you slow down your mind so that you can observe and recognize your thought patterns. Even just talking a walk in nature or reminding yourself to breathe deeply can help reset your brain and clear out unnecessary worries.
Becoming the captain of your own ship is a must in developing a positive outlook. Instead of worrying what other people think of you and trying to live up the their standards, decide for yourself who you want to be and what you want to accomplish. Following your own path will give you a boost of confidence and self-esteem that makes the future -- and the present -- seem brighter.
Laughing at yourself, seeking out opportunities to play and enjoy humor, and making others laugh can go a long way in creating an optimistic mindset. Laughter relieves stress and reminds you not to take life so seriously.
Follow Trevor Blake on Twitter: www.twitter.com/trevblake