Can Positive Thinking Change Your Life?
I think we can all agree that our thinking 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 or feeling constantly on a high. It’s more about being able to tap into our inner resources so we don’t allow bad 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 that 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 you are required to adapt to situations and being able to 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, 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 about your future and how you are going to get where you want to go
How do I Know I am in a Cycle of Negative Thinking?
One of the main signs is when our days are filled with worries, frustration, difficult emotions or unhappiness. We may often feel victimised by other people, circumstances or situations, just wishing 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 even without 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.
Our overall state of consciousness and the way we think and behave in daily life can also be influenced by our family history. Unresolved emotions and compensation behaviours originating in passed 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, 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 the 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 negativity, 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 stuck in a negative situation. With awareness we can grow emotionally and learn how to reach a balanced state of body and mind, leaving any 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.
This is where Sophrology can be an essential tool for personal growth, allowing us to develop a more positive perspective and readily acknowledge that life has its ebbs and flows. Sophrology as a mental wellbeing technique balances mind, body and consciousness, removing blockages and opening us to positive transformation, starting from becoming more aware of our body and how we can reach a state of calm.
An active Sophrology practice activates the alpha brain waves in the brain which are typical of a relaxed, aware and creative state. Relaxation combined with breathing exercises can boost blood circulation and increase sensations in the body such as warmth (thermogenesis), an effect similar to going for a run in cold weather (source: NCBI). This is typical of Pranayama or breath control exercises in yoga, that can generate heat in the body, oxygenate the blood and reduce inflammation, ultimately boosting the immune system.
With a regular Sophrology practice, we learn how to activate the alpha brain wave state quicker, in effect stimulating our inner resources, such as confidence and resilience and we are able to confront any situation with awareness and clear focus. We put ourselves in a dynamic state that allows us to be aware of our potential and to align ourselves with the world around us, enriching our experiences with learning, discovery and healing. We allow for transformation as body and mind become more balanced and the brain is stimulated to form new neural connections through neuroplasticity. With repetition, of even just 15 minutes of Sophrology a day, we will find ourselves naturally able to find a sense of calm and happiness that doesn’t depend on external circumstances.
The more we practice, the more we will be able to achieve our goals, acknowledging and accepting that there are adversities while being able to carry on with life. It will be easier to remember that we have overcome many obstacles before and can do it again, channelling this mindset in our future endeavours. Here’s a summary of how it all works:
Sophrology for Positivity, Confidence and Power
Through a regular Sophrology practice, we learn to listen to our body, acknowledging all the sensations in the present moment and manoeuvring ourselves out of our usual pattern of beliefs. We tap into our inner resilience and empowerment, learning to let go of expectations and let new ideas come to us. We allow our intuition to give us guidance, and our mind to open up to new possibilities, leaving behind what is toxic and detrimental to our personal growth. We become more self-aware and develop more acceptance and compassion for ourselves.
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 look at what is stopping you from being happy and to find solutions. Your intention sets things into motion. When you learn to acknowledge and connect with your intention, your energy changes and it will eventually become so tangible, you will start to attract the things you want in life, putting your unique talents to good use and empowering your relationships with others. You will even notice others react to you differently because you start to radiate positivity: they are happy to see you and are more willing to help and to interact with you.
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. The more you do this, the more you can feel the release of negativity in your body then your mind, eventually being able to listen to what your consciousness is guiding you to do. 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.
Here’s another excellent Sophrology breathing exercise that you can use: put one hand on your stomach, the other on your lower back, then quickly inhale and exhale from your nose expanding and contracting your tummy until you feel the need to go back to a normal breathing pattern. The key is to breathe from your diaphragm and not your chest. This is a great way to connect with your body, let go of stress through the breathing and experience positive sensations.
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.