The first time I really started thinking about the power of positive thought was during a personal training session a few years ago.
I train pretty hard, but it’s a very different experience when someone else is pushing you. And push my PT did. I have strong legs, but my arms are my weakness. So when he took me through a punishing series of kettlebell clean and presses, it was a real test. At one point during the workout, when it felt as though every muscle fibre in my arms was torn and defeated, my breath ragged in my throat, I dropped the kettlebell and bent over gasping, ‘I can’t, I have nothing left.’ The PT told me to take a few seconds break and that I could and I would. Well I almost laughed – I could barely lift the kettlebell at all, let alone push it above my head. But, he was not going to let me off easily, so I shook my arm out and then… somehow I pushed out the last two reps. There may have been some gritted teeth and red-faced grunting involved but I did it.
I surprised myself that day and it got me thinking. Imagine if we used this power of positive thought in other areas of our life and not just a personal training session? Imagine if, when we think we can’t, we simply give ourselves a break – a chance to reset – take a deep breath and then try again?
Weakness is a mindset. Strength is a mindset.
As a writer, I really understand the power of words and there is much truth in the statement that our thoughts shape us. And that’s why we do ourselves such a disservice when we allow negative, fear filled thoughts to reside in our mind. If a personal trainer can push our bodies to places we believe we cannot go, then what if we train the negative thoughts and the ‘I can’ts’ out of our heads and ‘replace it with, positive thoughts, or ‘I can’ affirmations?
During my pregnancy I was determined that my unborn children should have the best possible start inside my body – not only from the nutrient dense foods I consumed, but from the meditation and mindfulness that I practiced. On an energetic level I wanted them to be bathed in peaceful, calm thoughts. There’s nothing ‘woo woo’ about that. Scientists have discovered that a mother’s stress (as measured through cortisol levels in her blood) shows up in amniotic fluid after just 17 weeks of gestation. From my second trimester on (the first trimester is another story) I deliberately shifted any negative thoughts that popped into my head into positive ones.
It was a powerful experience. And it still is. Training my thoughts is something I continue to practice on a daily basis. I don’t start each day with a particular affirmation or use the same ones each day, but instead add positive thoughts based off any insecurities or stress that I encounter in the day. And it’s working. I can say with confidence that it not only makes me more content within myself, but it makes me a better mother, partner, friend and businesswoman and even a less road ragey driver.
How to incorporate positive thoughts into your life
It’s really very simple. We have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. You won’t hear them all, but start by consciously listening to your thoughts in addition to the words you speak and begin changing them to positive statements. If you like, pick some affirmations and write them somewhere you will see them (I know people that use post-it notes on the bathroom mirror or their desk notepad) or just set an alarm reminder on your phone to stop, reset and repeat your positive statements. It’s important that when you think them to focus on eliciting good feelings so that you believe them. Some people use the feelings from a positive memory but I find that hard to do ‘in the moment’ so I use mindfulness or meditation. Long, deep inhale – pause at the top of the breath – slowly release the breath – while holding the thought in my head. Repeat at least four times.
Like anything worth doing, it WILL take practice but the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. One of the other joys of optimisim is that instead of falling victim to statements such as, ‘I can’t cope’, you can change your thought to, ‘I will handle this’. It’s a surefire way to make you proactive, because simply by stating that you are inspired to take action and find a way to handle it. There’s a reason that optimists are better problem solvers and get more done. Try it and see if you start to feel a shift in your consciousness. You may just find yourself more at peace than ever before.