Peace of Mind
Quite often, stress stems directly from self-formed perceptions of the situation. Often that perception is right, but sometimes it’s not. The thoughts you think have a profound effect, in both the short and long-term, on your emotional and physical well-being. To even become stressed we must make two judgments: first, we must feel threatened by the situation; second, we mentally question whether our skills can battle the threat. How stressed you feel depends on the level of damage you foresee from the situation at hand, and how closely your resources meet those immediate demands. Personal perception is key to this, as situations are not stressful in their own right.
Rather, it is personal assessments that drive our stress levels. Believe it or not, each time you think a negative thought your body resorts to fight or flight, reacting as if it were in the throes of a tense situation. But if you regularly see the good in yourself, you are more likely to feel good — just as the reverse is also true. The ultimate assertion is tricking ourselves into seeing and believing these qualities. As Dr. Martin Seligman, an American psychologist, said “Positive and negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies: What we expect can often come true.” Thought awareness helps you understand negative thinking, unpleasant memories and circumstantial misinterpretations that may interfere with your performance and damage your long-term self-confidence.
Positive thinking tactics are applied when creating positive affirmations that can be used to counter negative thoughts. These affirmations neutralize negative thoughts and build upon our self-confidence. You cannot avoid all negative setbacks but you can learn how to manage it. One of these tools is your internal mindset– is your cup half-full or half-empty? Positive thinking doesn’t have to be an irrational bowl of cherries, as it’s not about finding wonderful blessings in worst-case scenarios so much as recognizing that the negative isn’t as prominent as you might think. I know a few are saying, “But that’s not who I am. I don’t think that way.” Let me say this: I used to be one of the most cynical people on earth. In an abstract sense, assuming the worst was my shield. If I wasn’t expecting anything good to stem from an experience then how could I be devastated in the end?
What’s even more abstract is that I didn’t see myself as a pessimist; in my eyes, I was the levelheaded rational thinker. Your brain has profound influence on your body and emotions, and you have more control over your mind than you think. It may sound cheesy, but one of the key tricks is monitoring how you speak to yourself. Pessimists make general statements about their lives when something goes badly, while optimists make specific statements that are only pertinent to the situation at hand. After failing a company delivery, a pessimist might think, “My reports are useless,” while an optimist might think, “This report was useless.” The difference is subtle, but the ripple effects are dynamic.
We subconsciously create our life experiences through these self-statements. Subconsciously, our belief systems are learned thought patterns that have been forming since adolescence. Some of these can work to our advantage, but others can work against us, halting personal potential. Every affirmation we make to ourselves is a reflection of our own beliefs. If you find yourself constantly making negative affirmations it only follows that your beliefs will be negative, too. Pessimists allow one negative event to turn their entire day, or life, inside out. Optimists recognize how they might have failed in one area, but they don’t allow that failure to overwhelm other parts of their lives. The key is to not generalize the effects of a single incident. So you made a mistake with your report, but that doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job.
The first step in changing negativity is to become aware of it. For many of us, negative thinking is a mental habit we don’t even recognize. For more on thought process and a sample assessment, go to Mind Tools. During hectic times, it is necessary for us to acknowledge how different times call for different measures. We can’t always change the stressor, as certain instances require that we change ourselves. We can adapt to stressful situations and regain our senses of control by changing our attitudes. Being optimistic doesn’t mean you must ignore reality. Some sources of stress are inevitable. As Health Guide.org emphasizes, the key to coping in these instances is to adapt to the stressor and accept the things you cannot change.
Adapt and accept because dwelling on a loss isn’t going to bring it back and constantly replaying fumbled lines isn’t going to alter the outcome. You can’t change stressors like the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but, in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change. As I mentioned, self-talk is what it’s about.
Many of us experience negative thoughts like, “I’m never going to succeed at this job; it’s just not in me.” When we have these thoughts, our confidence, mood, and outlook become negative, too, often without our awareness. We subconsciously talk ourselves into believing that we’re not good enough and our personal lives and careers get dragged down by these thoughts. This is why consciously doing the opposite – using positive affirmations – can be helpful. In the past, people recklessly advocated positive thinking, as if it was the fad solution to everything. Don’t take that approach, pair positive thinking with common sense. Decide what goals you can realistically attain with hard work, and then use positive thinking to reinforce them. Optimists are proven to be happier, healthier, and more productive than cynics.
The good news is that sanguinity is a skill – you can learn how to see the greater good. And just remember- it’s an age-old saying for good reason, so don’t sweat the small stuff.