What if you were only present to the present? The future is a blank sheet of paper ready to be written on. The past is a blank slate, erased and gone. You live on the plane of the present only. And you choose your present voluntarily, no matter what is going on, with absolutely no judgment about what it means or is at all. It just is.
Your future is yet to be written, so you write it down. Write it exactly how you want your future to be with absolutely no judgment about whether it can or cannot happen. You write it as if it is already your present, in specific, joyful details with all of the colors, smells, emotions, and sounds. Use all five of your senses to make it vividly alive for you.
What if the only way forward was to go towards that life? And the only way to get there was by supporting yourself like you were your own child…by loving yourself as you would your own child, and only with positive supportive, loving family, friends and mentors?
This is how I approach my life. It isn’t easy, and it has taken years for me to learn the skills to manage my life this way. And I am not there yet. As a matter of fact it goes against human nature which is ruled by the neanderthal brain…who’s only focus is to keep you alive. So it is an uphill battle. But if you want that life, and you put in the work you will eventually get there.
Why Negative Thoughts And How Do They Affect Your Body?
It is natural for us humans to automatically go right to the negative as a reaction to anything in life. It goes back to our neanderthal days when everyday we had to react fast to protect ourselves or our family from, say, a saber tooth tiger. We went into flight or fight mode. But in modern times we no longer are in danger from predators every day. But that survival part of our brain has not advanced at all. It can’t tell the difference between a saber tooth tiger or getting on a plane to go somewhere, or getting in our car to go on vacation, or someone important in our lives criticizing us. It only functions to protect us.
So what is the “fight-or-flight” response? If your senses send a signal to the amygdala that it interprets as you being in danger there are two steps.
1st. – It signals the hypothalamus – which activates epinephrine otherwise known as adrenaline. Adrenaline does many things to your body:
- heart beats faster
- pulse goes up
- blood pressure goes up
- breathing speeds up
- airways widen
- extra oxygen is distributed
- senses become sharper
- releases blood sugar into bloodstream
- releases fat into bloodstream
In a real life or death situation, this could save your life.
But in a consistent negative state of mind, like chronic stress, etc. This keeps your body in the second step of the fight or flight response which then causes health problems:
- damaged blood vessels and arteries
- increased blood pressure
- increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
- higher cortisol levels which lead to:
- build up of fat tissue
- weight gain
- increased appetite
- increased fat storage
There are studies that show if someone lives in a state of cynicism they are more likely to suffer from dementia and heart disease, if they live in a state of hostility or unfriendliness – stroke, chronic stress, or if they have depression – type 2 diabetes, heart attack, or they are more likely to suffer from a disability.
My grandmother was an example of this. She got more negative the older she got. She was negative about races, unable to forgive for the smallest slight. Not her family, but people she didn’t even know, and she suffered from heart disease and dementia as she got older.
Another really important point about negative emotions and thoughts, is if they affect metabolism and hormones, this will affect your immune system, which will prevent you from controlling inflammation. Inflammation is well-known to cause or contribute to many diseases. It also makes you less likely to exercise and more likely to engage in unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking too much alcohol and more.
I wanted to really get in depth here because I have personally experienced some of these states, either from a family member, myself, or friends and I’ve seen firsthand how damaging negative thoughts and behaviors can be in your life!
How Does Having A Positive Mindset Affect Your Body?
I could easily say that having a positive mindset would have the opposite effect of all of those negative ones listed above. But it really isn’t as simple as that. Even listing the positive effects will have an effect on you! Positive thoughts:
- Improve your immune system
- Decrease blood pressure
- Give you better coping skills
- Help you heal, and faster.
- Help you live longer by as much as 10 years!
- Gives you better pain tolerance.
- Improves your social health, your community (which is proven to help you live longer and better)
- Gives you better leadership skills.
- Helps you enjoy life more
- Increases self-esteem
- Helps you have healthier relationships.
- Ensures you have better habits.
It’s been proven that those who suffer from debilitating diseases like HIV and cancer have better life experiences and better outcome to their disease when they work on and maintain a more positive outlook. And with some of these there is a cyclical effect. When you workout more you are releasing more positive hormones, which in turn makes you feel better about yourself which then gives you self-esteem and improves your community. And that is a wonderful cycle to be on!
But if you are in a negative cycle, even temporarily, it is very difficult to get off the negative hamster wheel unless you have the right knowledge and tools. And then it is still difficult!
How Do I End Negative Thoughts And Emotions?
I am generally a super positive person. But things can happen in life, have happened in mine, that take you on a nosedive into the doldrums. Sometimes there are very good reasons for these negative points in life, health problems with children, financial woes, disappointments in work are some of mine. Not to mention I am super empathetic and really get affected by others’ different states of emotion and health.
Sometimes you may not know any other way. I was raised in a family that was very loving, but also very critical, especially about looks. So for a very long time I didn’t know how to practice positive self talk. I have a beautiful friend that was horribly abused as a teenager, and she has never seen how beautiful she is inside and out, and as far as I know has no idea how to create happiness in her life.
So just recognizing where the negativity is in your life can be quite a challenge, but that recognition is the first step you need to take to start your journey towards removing negativity from your life. It will be easy for some, and super difficult for others, and that is OK. Just working towards it will start you on a path of positivity!
Where might you find negativity in your life?
Self Talk – How do you talk to yourself? When you have a situation, (As an actor, I have auditions) do you concentrate only on the negative of the situation or do you give yourself credit for what you did right? When something disappointing or bad happens, do you blame yourself? Do you expect the worst to happen? Do you only see the world as black and white? Do you only look in the mirror with criticism?
I can tell you I have done most of those things. It took me until very recently to look in the mirror with love for myself, my whole self, and to be accepting of that which I can’t change, or can’t change right now. I am always super critical of my auditions, expecting perfection out of my performance. (The easiest and fastest way to imperfection!) Do you beat yourself up over missing a workout, or having that piece of cake after dinner?
Your Family and Friend Relationships – Are you in an abusive relationship, physically, emotionally, or mentally? Do your children treat you with respect. Do your friends lift you up and support you? Or are they competitive with you.
I’ve had issues with all of these, and it has added to my happiness tenfold every time I’ve solved one of these negative issues and worked on building a more positive relationship.
Your Career – Do you work in a job you love? Do your co-workers support you or back stab? Do you dread your drive to work every day. Do you dread going to your job every day. or is it like play? Do you procrastinate because you are stressed over your to-do list that is too long?
Common Situations: Do you notice and get angry at every driver who cuts you off? Are you a road rager? Do you get into fights with someone and have a hard time getting out of your anger?
Health – Do you get sick all of the time? Do you snap at loved ones because you are in pain all of the time? Do you suffer from illnesses that limit your freedom in life? Do you find it difficult to sleep? Do you have a hard time motivating yourself to do anything other than play on your phone, watch TV, or lay in bed?
Most all of these are situations I have encountered at some point in my life. And I believe because of my positive nature, I was able to overcome them successfully for the most part. I was hit by a drunk driver when I was 18 years old and badly injured, so I still battle my judgment of other drivers on the road. But I am getting better!
But if you are generally a negative person, it is definitely more difficult to change your ways to a more positive nature. But it can be done with the right tools! And life is so amazing if you are willing to put in the work to overcome your negativity!
I want to separate out one thing here.
Fear – Fear is a negative emotion and can manifest in many ways. I think that is where my road rage manifests from. Procrastination can originate from fear. Or there is just plain fear of something, as in my case, fear of flying.
I used to dream of traveling. I wanted to go everywhere! More than 20 years ago I made a big cross-country move. And right after I started having dreams I was in a plane crashing, many times and periodically until about 5 years ago. I thought they were premonitions and I avoided flying at all costs. It totally limited my life, and bled into fear before I would travel by car anywhere. I wouldn’t even get a passport. I’ll let you know in the next section if I was able to solve this negativity in my life!
How Do I Practice A Positive Mindset?
Make a choice. Just choosing to have a positive life can start your brain working for you to help you create more positivity. I was really struggling financially and realized anytime I thought of my finances I would think I just could never make the money I needed. I can’t make money, I’m in the wrong state for my career. I can’t work as much as I need to because my kids needed me and they were my responsibility. But then I learned something powerful from a wonderful bunch of mentors.
- To choose my circumstances. So I chose my financial situation.
- To fake it til I make it. I learned to act like I was where I wanted to be.
Those two things were two of the most powerful tools to help me move from a negative lump in my stomach every time I thought of bills, or money or anything having to do with finances. My world went from “can’t” to “how can I”? I’m not quite where I want to be, but I can do bills, and make plans for vacations without feeling sick to my stomach. I can now enjoy my journey getting to where I want to be!
Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments when I fall off the horse, but I’ve learned wonderful tools to help me get back on!
There are many, many other tools that work for people. Smile until you actually feel like it. Turn the negative into a positive. Find the funny in a situation. Focus on the present. Surround yourself only with positive people. Practice gratitude. Positive affirmations, focus on the good, play some fun music or a funny video. (I recommend animal and kid videos!) Meditation, writing, play! Practice talking positively to yourself, have a healthy lifestyle: eat right, exercise (even when you don’t feel like it) cut out sugar, get enough sleep if you can, don’t ignore problems.
There are endless ways to turn that frown upside down, you just have to see what works best for you! I have a routine I do every day. and then I have tools for when I fall off my horse!
- I meditate -mostly audio led, sometimes just on my own in the morning sun outside in nature.
- I write down everything I am grateful for.
- I write down one to a couple of things that gave me a chuckle in the last day, and I have another chuckle about it.
- I write my plans for my near future, IE taking a class, declaring an income goal.
- I read the story of what my future life looks like.
And when I get caught in a situation that throws me off my horse, I do different things depending on the situation:
- I put my music on loud and dance or clean.
- Forgiveness is huge!
- If I find myself judging myself I turn that judgment into a lesson or into something positive, like a goal.
- Not judging a situation and just recognizing it for what it is, and never assuming what others might be thinking, because you just really don’t know!
A great example of the last one was the other day I was upset about something and my better half had a look on his face that made me assume he was mad at me for being upset. When I asked him he said no, he was blaming himself for what I was upset about! We were both going straight to the negative!
Now, how did I solve that fear of flying? Through one of my mentors I found that often fear is
a way of your brain protecting you from a life threatening situation. And change, to that brain, is
life threatening. I had moved across the country when I started having them! Finding this out was life changing! My daughter had asked me to take her on a trip when she was twelve. I had said yes, but never planned it due to my fear. But after I learned this I was able to take her to Hawaii when she was 18. I decided my brain is not in control of me, I am! And I’ve learned to forgive myself for taking 6 years to do what I said I was going to do, and for letting fear limit my life and control me for too many years!
You Can Create An Amazing Life With A Positive Mindset!
I am a really positive person, but I have many moments when I feel
like life will never be positive again. Sometimes I believe it is due to
my empathetic nature. I absorb the negativity around me. Other times, I
run into a road block or a disappointment and I drop into defeat.
Luckily I have learned some incredible methods on how to have a
better life. I’ve learned some steps to having a positive mindset, when
my positivity seems to have deserted me. Sometimes I’m so low and
negative I don’t even want to try the methods to make myself feel
better. I guess you would call that wallowing. And I’ve made a vow to
overcome my feelings so I can be happy. I challenge you to do the same, because you and I deserve an amazing life!