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21/03/11 Learning to Think for the better

 “Cogito, ergo sum”.  I think, therefore I am, was written in the 1600’s by Rene Descartes.   It is simple for us to understand that our thinking directly affects our mood, our emotions and our actions, yet how much time do spend looking at the process?  Or do we let it just happen?  

Our mind responds to stress as it is programmed to.  Different events can have very different effects on us as individuals.  For example, a tennis ball can bring to us many diverse thoughts; the great game of tennis, getting hit by the ball when playing as a child, throwing the ball for our dog who died, a great day out at Wimbledon; and so on.  

With this in mind! we can see that an event can conjure up an automatic response, based on our previous experience of the subject.  The more we have the thoughts, the stronger the neural pathways become in our brain and the more likely we are to react in a programmed way.  

As part of our Managing Pressure course, we ask participants to look at their negative ways of thinking:  

“Everything I do goes wrong!”  

“No-one appreciates what I do.”  

“I always get things wrong.”  

“I give up: I will never get it right.”  

We look at challenging some of the programmed thought processes.  Sometimes the thoughts are running at low volume and the internal chatter may be quiet as a mouse, almost tweeting away in the background, you will need to be aware, conscious of this and ask to hear it a little louder so that you can observe your thoughts over the week, and then decide what patterns you would like to reroute!  

Great, Positive thinking is all I need.  Not always true, I’m afraid.  We are going to look at some ways of changing our thinking and in turn our behaviour, however, have you ever been in a situation where it seems to keep coming back and biting you on the nose?  Look a little deeper and you may find you are holding onto a belief about the situation/event, see if you can trace it back by using the feeling it gives you ie (Despair) Everything I do goes wrong.  Where did this come from?  Were you told this at school, by a member of your family, by your boss?   

The key to making change in a conscious way is to experience the ‘feeling’.  Let it be there.  Let the feeling of despair/anger/frustration/and so on simply be there.  By creating space for our thoughts and feelings, we can actually let them be, and then have the power in our hands to change them if we wish.  

You see, it isn’t just a case of simple positive thinking, as often we haven’t got to the route of the old feeling, they can splinter off into different areas and we need to be conscious enough to see the splinters and pull them to the surface!  

Once we have done so, then brilliant, we are ready to affirm our new desires/ways of thinking!  

5 ways to enhance your positive affirmations  

  1. Pay attention to yourself, if you still have negative chatter then don’t try and push it way, allow it some space and trace back the emotion it evokes in you.
  2. Make your affirmations personal.  Can you really try and change someone else?  Use the words I, Me and My.
  3. Affirmations have to be stated in the positive ie “I don’t need cigarettes anymore”  is negative, it would be stronger to say “My lungs are strong and healthy” or “I feel full of life and my willpower is strong”.
  4. Make your affirmations easy to remember keep them small and write them down.  You can stick them to the fridge in the morning or take them into a meeting with you, I have even played tennis with someone who had one to hand!
  5. Say them often, and if they aren’t feeling true to you, revisit number 1, or try and write the affirmation in a different way.