Most people have cognitive ‘blind spots.’ Simply put, it’s hard to see our own thinking flaws and all the ways we keep ourselves anxious without someone else pointing it out.
As a therapist (Intern) I see it all the time. Someone mulls over a particular thought pattern or behavior that they’ve never examined before and bingo! They say something like “I never thought of it that way.”
It doesn’t happen as often as I would like, but it does happen. Here’s a question though: Is there a way to do this on yourself? Is there a way to tilt your perspective in a positive direction?
For starters, know this about your brain: It loves patterns and routine. Give yourself 29 days and you can turn almost any behavior into a habit.
Over time your behaviors (thoughts included) end up on autopilot; focused on the same negative perspective until it’s hard not to see the bad in almost everything. In fact, you might have gotten to the point where all you do is focus on the negative.
From Negative to Positive
Step 1: Acknowledge your blind spots.
Are you a pessimist? Do you wake up in the morning and assume that you’re going to be anxious all day? It’s important to recognize your negative mind frame before you can even think about changing it.
This one’s easy to achieve though. Just ask yourself this: Do I
think worry about problems that only confirm or support my fears? If so, then you’re focused only on the negative aspects of everything you experience, which reinforces the very problems you despise.
Instead, spend some time thinking about things that disprove your anxiety fueled guesses about the future.
Step 2: Learn how to reframe the negative
Is there any possible way of looking at your stress, anxiety or worry from a positive perspective? Of course there is! For instance, you could be experiencing two panic attacks a week right now.
But if you experienced only one next week would you sit around fearing the next panic attack or could you think “Hey, I only had one panic attack this week. Now that’s progress!”
Alternatively, what if you did have your customary two servings of panic in a week? Could you ever give yourself permission to think that you might have none the following week?
Also, consider this: Are you always panicked? Are you perpetually experiencing chest pain? Probably not right? Well then, how about you start acknowledging the ‘good times.’ Acknowledge that you’re not always feeling bad and that you will feel better soon after whatever you’re experiencing passes.
Step 3: Practice positivity
You ever buy a stranger a coffee? No? Man, you should try it because it feels awesome. Have you ever laughed at yourself for something hilarious that you did because you were scared out of your mind (I know I have).
Whether it’s forcing a big smile in the office on Monday, sharing your food, cracking a joke, or whatever, you have a lot of control over how much positivity you release into the universe. And what’s crucial to remember is that the universe provides excellent return on investment. The more you give the more you get.
Be mindful of the fact that despite bad things happening to us (Part of life I’m afraid), there’s always some small thing you can do to put a positive spin on some aspect of your life. The important part of practicing positivity is actually giving it a try so you can escape the false idea that you’ll always feel bad and never recover.