If you are facing business challenges, work issues or money worries, they can all conspire to make us feel down and sap our energy and enthusiasm.
So, imagine what it would be like if you could have a permanent positive mindset? If these things didn’t affect you negatively, but could be faced without fear or stress? It might sound far-fetched but it’s possible. Here are eight, easy to follow, steps to building a more positive, powerful mindset:
- Negative thoughts. The average person has over 20 negative thoughts per day. (I meet people who have many hundreds per day). All negative thoughts involve wanting something to be different. A negative thought about the past wants something that’s happened not to have happened. A negative thought about the present wants something that exists, not to exist right now. The past can never be changed, and what already exists can never be undone.
Worry wants the future to be different, from the way we think it might be, in an aspect of life that we believe we cannot control. If we believed we could control it, we wouldn’t be worrying. So that makes worry as crazy as wanting the past or present to be different.
We can drop negative thoughts through a four-step process called Positive-Acceptance, abbreviated to ‘Pacceptance’. a) Notice we’re having one. b) Recognise it’s crazy, for the reasons I’ve mentioned. c) Drop the thought (replacing worry with a line out of a well-known song …. ‘Que sera sera, whatever will be will be’). d) Refocus on the only thing ever worth thinking about: what can I do, if anything, to gain more control of the future? If, once we’ve dropped the thought, it comes back, that’s good news, as we’ll only get good at ‘Pacceptance’ with practice. So, drop it again, after reminding ourselves why it’s crazy. It won’t keep coming back. I haven’t had a negative thought, for more than two seconds, for 23 years.
- Blame. ‘Pacceptance’ doesn’t work for blaming thoughts about the past or present. We may know we can’t change the past or present, but we might still think they ‘should’ have been different. Blame, of ourselves or others, can be removed by understanding the philosophy of ‘determinism’. This says that everything we’ve ever thought, felt or done, is the only thing we could have thought, felt or done, at that moment. Everything we do is determined by just two things. The first, is the situation we’re in at the time. The second is ‘who we are’ at that moment. That includes things like our knowledge and abilities, attitudes and beliefs, morals and values, unconscious programming. The only way we could ever have done anything different at any moment is if ‘who we were’ at that moment had been different. Blame ignores this truth. So drop it. (This doesn’t remove ‘responsibility’).
- Limiting feelings. The difference between feelings and thoughts is that thoughts only occur in the mind, whereas feelings also occur in the body. Examples of limiting feelings are anxiety, aspects of depression and feeling cold. The key to dealing with limiting feelings is ‘acceptance’.Ask three questions about any feeling: a) Is it harming me? No-one has ever been harmed by a feeling. Even feeling cold is simply a message to the brain. (By contrast, being cold, the source of the feeling, can harm us), b) Can I bear it? All feelings, other than extreme pain, are bearable, c) So if it’s harmless and bearable, what exactly is the problem with having this feeling? There isn’t one. Practice the three questions by creating discomfort, e.g. turn the hot water down a bit in the shower for 10 seconds; run up an escalator or flight of stairs. Accepting feelings will diminish them. To eliminate the feeling, do the opposite of whatever the feeling is telling us to do, e.g. accept feeling anxious speaking to groups, and join a speaking club.
- Free-will. Free-will is the only escape from determinism. Determinism is run by our auto-pilot (or ‘mindset’). Free-will is noticing what our auto-pilot is about to get us to do, and do something more powerful or productive instead. This will get us a better immediate result, and strengthen our auto-pilot.
- Owning our reactions. Most people think our reactions are caused by something someone else has said or done. If that were true, we’d all react in the same way. The truth is our reactions are the result of our own internal (unconscious) programming. The other person’s action is just the trigger.
- Perspective. Conflict is driven by two different perspectives. Avoid conflict by recognising this, and making an effort to understand the other person’s perspective.
- Act as if …. you’re someone you admire, who can do what you want to do. Or ‘act as if’ you already have more powerful self-beliefs. Every time we act more powerfully, we strengthen our mindset.
- Focus on contribution. I’ve created a ‘free’ web-based life-skills training of six 20-minute webinars (see www.positive-mind-training.com). It’s by far the most powerful life training I know of. Michael Queen, past CEO of 3i, said “The most succinct, useful and effective training I’ve ever encountered”. Mark Nesbitt, director of Urban Leaf, said: “If a training could change the world and the lives of everyone in it, this is surely such a training”. I then initiated a project, based on that training, that aims to remove poverty, homelessness, conflict and oppression from the world, and have a major influence on environmental issues (see www.changeabillionminds.com). Do something similar or join me on mine.
About The Author
Graham W Price is a chartered psychologist, personal and executive coach and development trainer. He’s an accredited member of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), CEO of Abicord and Abicord Consulting and founder of the ‘Change a Billion Minds’ project. He is author of ‘The Promise’ published by Pearson.