Do you find yourself worrying about whether your thoughts are positive or negative? If so, you are not alone. Sometimes we create undo stress by trying too hard to be positive. It’s sage advice to select an interpretation of an event that will boost your wellbeing, but what if you just can’t find that upward spiral no matter how many times you try to focus exclusively on the positive. And what about affirmations? Have you repeated your mantra until you’re blue in the face only to find you are still feeling blue? What’s going on here?
One answer appears to lie in your self-esteem. For those of you with low self-esteem, it turns out that repeating affirmations tends to make you feel worse. For example, if you repeat “I am a lovable person,” you end up feeling worse because it makes you more aware of the gap between the affirmation and your opinion of yourself. Affirmations are not designed to boost your self-esteem. Affirmations can only take root in soil that is primed. If you find out that affirmations prove unhelpful, this is a sign that you need to spend more time releasing habitual thoughts that are negative and destructive before the seeds of positivity can take root.
Another possibility is that you are fear-focused. If you tend to fret and worry, you may be draining your resources needed to prime the pump of positivity. Dennis Waitley, in his book Seeds of Greatness, describes a study conducted by the University of Michigan. The study proved that 60% of our fears are ungrounded, 20% are about things that have happened and are beyond our influence, and 10% are about minor matters that make little difference in our lives. That leaves 10%. While these fears may be real and justifiable, even in this category the majority are based on events that we can’t change. Waitley suggests that if you concentrated on the 2% of your fears that are real and changeable, and stopped dwelling on the rest, you could easily find solutions for these situations. As he puts it, “Stop stewing and start doing.”
So, if you’re finding that positive thinking and affirmations just aren’t cutting the cake, it’s time for action. Here are some tips to get you up and moving in a positive direction:
- If you suffer from low self-esteem, focus on identifying and releasing your negative patterns. Check out the free chapter from my book, POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have…Create the Success You Want, on the store page of my website (click here) to get started.
- If you are a constant worrier, identify those fears that you can do something about. Commit to take action. The next two tips will help get you moving.
- Don’t wait until you want to do something. The truth is you don’t need to feel motivated to get going. You just need to go. Have you been putting off exercising or spring cleaning waiting to feel more motivated? Rather than waiting to feel energized to do something, do something with the expectation that you will feel more energized as a result of the action.
- In the words of the late Japanese psychotherapist Shoma Morita, “Be the best imperfect person you can be, and get started on those things you want to accomplish before you die.” In other words, even if you have low self-esteem (or any other label by which you negatively describe yourself), begin taking action now. You don’t have to wait to feel positive before you an be positive.
Your upward spiral awaits. Stop worrying about thinking positively and start focusing on positive action instead. We know that thoughts, feelings and actions are all inter-related. So, if you’re finding that you can’t think your way to positive feelings, don’t despair. Actions work just as well!