Have you ever met a person with such a positive mindset that they don’t seem to get rattled by whatever life throws at them? The common belief is that they were lucky to be born with such a cheery disposition. However, a shift in this theory emerged when Martin P. Seligman Ph.D., the founder of the positive psychology movement proposed that we can all learn how to be more optimistic regardless of our genetics, or childhood environments. He refers to this way of thinking as learned optimism.
The Origins of Negative Thinking
What tends to prevent us from developing a positive mindset is our predisposition to dwell on the negative. According to research conducted by the National Science Foundation,the average person has 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative. What a staggering statistic!
Psychologists call this phenomenon the negativity bias and it has been handed down to us generation after generation. In primitive times, a heightened awareness of potential threats was essential to our ancestor’s survival. It was the human brain’s way of keeping us safe. Now, we have the option to step away from this primitive way of seeing the world. By understanding where our pension for negativity comes from, we can learn to recognize it and shift toward adopting a more positive mindset.
The Inner Critic’s Influence on Negative Thinking
Not only does the negativity bias predispose us to negative thinking, so does the critical voice inside your head that highlights every mistake, doubts your abilities, and consistently reminds you that you aren’t good enough. This relentless narrator, the Inner Critic, distorts your view of yourself and can hinder both your personal and professional growth.
It replicates the negative verbal and non-verbal messages you received about yourself throughout your childhood and adolescence. The original sources could be your parents, teachers, authority figures, siblings, the list is endless. Listening to these messages can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and distrust in your relationships.
Learn to disarm your Inner Critic by bringing it out of the shadows. Name it or draw it to begin to detach from it and recognize its presence in your life. Begin to challenge its inner dialogue instead of believing what it is saying as truth. You can simply say, “ Stop, I’m choosing not to listen to you.” Then quickly reframe and create a positive statement.
When you begin to loosen the grip of the Inner Critic , you’ll be able to cultivate a more positive mindset and live a more empowering life filled with what your heart desires.
The Benefits of a Positive Mindset
Embracing a positive mindset is more than just putting on rose-colored glasses, it comes with a whole host of benefits. Research shows that having a positive outlook can impact every aspect of your life including physical and mental health, relationships, career success, and overall happiness.
Some benefits of positive thinking are:
• Lower stress levels
• Reduced feelings of depression and anxiety
• Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
• Longer life span
• Increased productivity
• Increased ability to cope with challenges
• Heightened self-confidence
• Increased job satisfaction
• Higher quality of life
How to Cultivate a Positive Mindset
Understanding why we tend to think negatively is only one part of the journey. To create a more positive way of being you must be present in your life, recognize negative thoughts when they arise, and take intentional action to retrain your mind. Here are some ways you can cultivate a more positive mindset:
1. Gratitude – Practice being grateful for what you have in life versus what you don’t have.
2. Look for the Lessons– Instead of feeling like you failed or made a mistake look for the lessons in these experiences and learn from them.
3. Create Intentions– Set clear intentions as to what type of life you want to live versus focusing on what type of life you don’t want to live.
4. Practice Using Affirmations & Visualization– Use Affirmations to reinforce optimistic beliefs and strengthen them using visualization to create a mental picture of the life you want to live. This internal practice will allow you to focus on the limitless possibilities rather than your fears and disappointments.
5. Savor Pleasant Experiences- Train your mind to absorb a pleasant experience instead of slightly appreciating it. Hold it in your awareness for at least 30 seconds. The longer the pleasant experience is held in your awareness the more neurons will fire and wire together and create an inner sense of happiness.
6. Rid Yourself of Disempowering Words – Choose the words that inhabit your vocabulary wisely. Words such as I can’t, I’ll try, I wish, I should be, are disempowering causing you to think negatively. Instead use empowering words such as: I can, I will, I intend.
Practicing a Positive Mindset
Cultivating a positive mindset takes time, energy, and conscious effort. By understanding the influence of negativity bias and the Inner Critic, you can begin to take steps to break free from negative thinking. Embracing a positive mindset isn’t about denying the challenges of life, it’s about approaching each challenge with the belief that you can overcome it. With practice and a commitment to personal growth, you can unlock the potential that a positive mindset holds for your health, relationships, career, and overall fulfillment in life.
Deepening Your Understanding
If you would like to deepen your understanding of how to develop a more positive mindset don’t hesitate to contact me for a free 30 minute consultation. I’ve integrated techniques from the field of positive psychology into my practice that have helped thousands of women embrace a more positive mindset. I also offer hypnotherapy sessions that identify the root causes of negative thinking, weed them out and then rewire the subconscious to plant new seeds of positivity.
Starting today, make the choice of adopting a positive mindset so that you live your life with a sense of purpose, passion, and fulfillment.