I think we can all agree that the way we think, shapes our lives. For instance, what we think of a situation can either help us move forward or hold us back in life.
Having a positive outlook can make a huge difference, as it can help us approach anything that comes our way with an open mind. This doesn’t mean smiling 24/7, feeling constantly on a high, or ignoring painful feelings. It’s more about being able to tap into our inner resources so we don’t allow difficult situations to crush us. Instead, we can see and accept things for what they are and move on in the best way possible.
What is Positive Thinking?
The generic definition of positive thinking is to focus on the good in any situation, but there is so much more to positive thinking than meets the eye.
Positive thinking is about:
- Looking at things for what they are and acknowledging your situation without pushing yourself to fight it or be positive at all costs.
- Giving yourself space to experience your feelings, emotions and reactions with awareness.
- Knowing that you have, inside you, the ability to adapt to situations. You can change your perspective and reframe your experience, no matter how difficult or stressful things are.
- Having tools and strategies to bounce back from challenges and regain a sense of control.
- Knowing your boundaries and how to set them clearly when needed.
- Not being afraid to ask for help or support, or share the way you feel.
- Being able to tap into your inner resources, such as resilience and your connection to yourself, your values, passions, and relationships.
- Cultivating a sense of hope even when things are not unfolding the way you would like.
- Turning tension, stress and lack of motivation into confidence and energy with the intention to live the life you want and be truly happy.
- Finding deeper meaning in your experiences.
- Having a clear vision of your future and how you are going to get where you want to go.
How do I know if I am in a Cycle of Negative Thinking?
One of the main signs of being in a cycle of negative thinking is when our days are filled with worries, frustration, difficult emotions or unhappiness. We may often feel victimised by other people, circumstances or situations, or just wish things were different.
We may find ourselves obsessing over the news, always in a state of alert, or trying to solve everyone’s issues rather than our own.
We may feel anxious or even experience physical tensions and pains due to the constant stress we put ourselves under, without even realising it.
Feelings of guilt, lack of self-esteem or always doubting what to do next can also be an indication that we are not in a state of flow and are blocked by old patterns of thinking, stemming from past experiences or the way we were brought up.
The way we think and behave in daily life can also be influenced by our family history. Unresolved emotions and compensation behaviours originating from past traumas can be passed on from our parents or grandparents. We may therefore be unconsciously living with inner programming that no longer serves a purpose in our present life and is blocking us from accessing our true potential. For example, if our ancestors (parents, grandparents etc.) were persecuted and had to emigrate, and didn’t have a chance to heal and process their emotions and experiences such as loss, grief and violence, the pain they carry stays in the family and can be a source of negative behaviour or limiting beliefs in future generations.
This unconscious programming is called transgenerational influence and is based on the science of epigenetic theory, which can help us understand how we may be in a negative state of consciousness without showing obvious or extrinsic reasons. We may assume it is our default state, without knowing it’s actually a learned behaviour.
The good news is that no matter why we feel stuck in negative thoughts, we can all learn to think differently. We can’t always control our external circumstances, but we can choose what thoughts we focus on, moving from the negative to the positive. Positivity breeds positivity and this can be life-changing, especially when you feel trapped in a negative situation. With awareness we can grow emotionally and learn how to reach a balanced state of body and mind, leaving unnecessary burdens behind. From a transgenerational influence standpoint, we realise that our learned behaviours aren’t our own and instead belong to the collective trauma of the family.
How do I Train My Mind to Become More Positive?
The mind and body have incredible potential including the ability to change their own physiology. Our brain, specifically, is flexible and it can adapt to any situation. We continually build new neural connections throughout our life and this is called ‘neuroplasticity’.
It’s worth noting that negative emotional states such as stress and depression lower neurogenesis, i.e., our ability to create new neurons.
Happy thoughts tend to occur in the prefrontal cortex and that’s where most of the brain growth happens through reinforcing and generating new synapses. Based on this knowledge, we can choose to “nourish” our brain with positive thoughts to stimulate neural growth.
Isn’t it amazing how powerful our brains are? We can choose to counteract negative effects on the brain, improve our memory and lower our stress through activities such as mindfulness, learning a new skill and physical exercise.
Sophrology for positive thinking
This is where Sophrology can be an essential tool for personal growth and self-development, supporting us as we find a more positive perspective and readily acknowledge that life has its ebbs and flows. Sophrology as a mental wellbeing practice helps balance mind and body as we journey towards positive transformation, starting from becoming more aware of our body and how we can reach a state of calm, to transforming our mindset and learning to take control of how we feel in our daily life.
Sophrology uniquely blends relaxation, conscious breathing, meditation, visualisation and gentle movement. These modalities have all been backed up by science for supporting health and wellbeing.
How Sophrology can foster positive attitudes in individuals:
- Reducing stress: using relaxation, meditation and breathing exercises has been shown to lower stress levels in the body, notably by calming the sympathetic nervous system and promoting alpha brain wave states. Sophrology offers simple and short guided sequences for instant calm. Feeling calmer and more grounded can help us come out of automatic pilot mode and give us the necessary space to start choosing how we can respond to an event or internal feelings.
- Rewiring the brain: practising meditative techniques for as little as 10 minutes, four times a week over a few weeks has been shown to create a new connection in the brain, thus impacting the attention networks which support the way we process information.
- Create your reality: studies have shown that when you visualise your end goal, your brain can work towards recreating it in real life. Through visualisation, you can turn an abstract hope into a picture that motivates you and will guide you. In Sophrology, we often use visualisation to transform the way we respond to events or to prepare ahead so we maximise our chance to respond to them in a constructive way.
- Bend the negativity bias: have you heard of the negativity bias? As human beings, we have a natural tendency to impact our psychological state most with negative events or feelings rather than positive events or feelings. Even when they are of equal proportion. This is a protection mechanism to make sure we stay alive but can get in the way of looking at the bright side of life. Sophrology has many exercises that build our ability to notice positive sensations in our bodies or encourage positive imagery and intentions so that over time, we rewire our brain towards a more positive, harmonious and resilient state of being.
Sophrology for Positivity, Confidence and Empowerment
Through a regular Sophrology practice, just 10 minutes a day, we can learn to listen to ourselves and to our body, acknowledge all the sensations in the present moment, manage stress or manoeuvre ourselves away from our usual pattern of reactions or beliefs. We can set new hopes and intentions to help us create a new reality.
Gradually, we can eventually find ourselves naturally able to find a sense of calm and happiness that doesn’t depend on external circumstances. We can feel more supported and prepared as we reach for our goals, acknowledging and accepting that there are adversities while being able to carry on with life. It will also be easier to remember that we have overcome many obstacles before and can do it again, channelling this mindset in our future endeavours whilst discovering new levels of creativity.
Try Sophrology for yourself now.
Take a moment to reflect on what you want to achieve in your life and what steps you need to get there. Give yourself the time and space to set a positive intention today to set things into motion.
Once you’ve set a positive intention, try this easy Sophrology exercise, called the Positive Breathing Scan:
Invite a word aligned to your intention, like confidence, into your mind on your inhale and when you exhale, send that positive intention into your head and face. Mentally repeat your word to yourself as you continue to breathe. Inhale confidence and invite it to reach every part of your body as you breathe out. Breathe through this, repeating until you feel your breath get deeper and your body relax further. When you are ready to stop, pause and acknowledge all the positive sensations in your body.
If you want to try this exercise with a 10-minute audio guide, you can download it here.
Over time your Sophrology exercises become a transformational practice that affects you positively in all aspects of your life. You can find this exercise and more in our Master Your Mindset course.