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Happy New Year to you all . . .

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New Questions For Managing Monkeys — Leadership Freak

You end up overwhelmed, under-appreciated, and angry, if you own other people’s monkeys. Someone walks in your office with an issue – a monkey. Make sure they walk out with their monkey. Pronouns explain ownership. Don’t use ‘we’ when you mean ‘you’. 3 pronouns: ‘You’ – The monkey stays in their zoo. They own the […]

via New Questions For Managing Monkeys — Leadership Freak

5 Ways to feel less stress when life gets busy . . .

 

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Stress is one of the primary causes of major health problems in our lives: it can cause heart disease, anxiety, sleep deprivation, auto-immune disorders, weight problems, unhappiness, and even deep depression, but we’re busy – we all have places to be, things to do and people to see. So how do we feel less stress and still get our work done right (without neglecting our loved ones and ourselves)?

 

When life gets crazy busy, you might not have time for week-long meditation and yoga retreats, weekend vacations, or even weekly life coaching sessions. So what can be done?

 

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There are five simple things you can do. A few mind set shifts and a couple of actions that take only a couple of minutes. These can’t solve the most severe stress related problems, but they can help most of us in a major way, every day.

 

  1. Be in the moment, completely, with just one task: Instead of being in a stressful task-switching state of mind, take your next task, let everything else go, and just be in the moment with this one task. Let yourself be immersed in this task by letting go of the feeling that you need to quickly rush through it – that you need to move on to the next task waiting for you. There will always be a next task, because that’s the nature of To Do lists – they’re never ending. So let those later tasks come later. Just be 100 percent in this one task, like it’s your entire world. Bottom line: Slow down. Breathe. Review your commitments and goals. Put first things first. Do one task at a time. Start now. Take a 5-minute break every hour. Repeat. Always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

 

  1. Let go of controlling what can’t be controlled: Fear is causing you to be stressed, not external factors like your job obligations or family issues. Those external factors are just a part of life, but they become stressful when you fear failure, fear people won’t like you, fear you’re not good enough, fear abandonment, and so forth. This fear is based on some fantasy in your head about how things are supposed to be (and you fear that your life may not live up to that fantasy): you have an image in your head that you’re going to be perfect, have people like you, be comfortable all the time, and succeed on all fronts. These fantasies are a way to feel in control of a world that you don’t actually control, but they’re hurting you by causing fear and stress. Instead, let go of control. Be ok with chaos and uncertainty and trust that things will work out. You’ll fear less and feel less stress.

 

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  1. Accept people jut the way they are and smile: We get upset with others because they don’t meet our fantasy of how they “should” act. Instead, try accepting them for who they are, and recognize that, like you, they’re imperfect and seeking happiness and struggling with finding it. They’re doing their best. Accept them just the way they are. In most cases it’s impossible to change them anyway, and it’s rude to try. Save yourself from the needless stress. Instead of trying to change others, give them your support today and lead by example.

 

  1. Take a brief walk outside: When things are getting really stressful, take 5 – 10 minutes to take a walk and clear you mind. A short walk does wonders. It gives you something new to look at and it gets your body moving. People who have recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, marital separation or job loss, always see an immediate mood boost after a short outdoor walk. It’s literally the most effective way to instantly reduce the stressful pressure of a worried mind. Right about now, you should consider taking a break from work and go for a short, peaceful walk (in a park or green space if there’s one nearby). Again, this is not unproductive lollygagging, it’s likely to have a restorative effect on our mind and help with attention fatigue and stress recovery.

 

  1. Perform short mindfulness practices: You don’t have to meditate for 30 minutes to get the benefits of mindfulness. You can do a quick body scan (focus on your body and notice how each part of it feels right now) in 30 seconds. You can pay attention to your breath for 60 seconds (listen to it and feel it). You can watch your thoughts about concerns, fears, judgments, doubts and ideals for a minute (recognize that these thoughts are simply thoughts; you don’t need to believe them or react to them). You can walk mindfully, paying attention to your feet, your body, your breath and your surroundings, as you walk. You can do each of these short mindfulness practices in little bits whenever you need them throughout your day.

Source: From Marc and Angel Hack Life

9 Powerful ways to spend a day

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All the time given to you in life is valuable, you just have to know what to do with it.

Let’s make it count. Shall we?

Starting today, spend more time . . .

 

  1. Thinking for yourself: the uneducated belief in something false that someone tells you is the greatest enemy of your own truth. Do not let anyone interfere with the freedom of your mind. The best thing you can do for yourself is to think for yourself. With all of society’s influences and agendas incessantly trying to persuade you every single second, thinking for yourself is the most courageous act imaginable. You are a unique human being with independent thoughts and free will; carry on accordingly.

 

  1. Being a little bit uncomfortable: If you’re not a little bit uncomfortable on a daily basis it means you’re not growing. Every aspect of physical and emotional growth arrives from outside your comfort zone, so be fearless sometimes. Have the courage to take the risks that feel right. Go where there are no certainties. Stretch yourself and your routines even if it means feeling a bit uncomfortable. The road less travelled is sometimes laden with potholes, bumps and unexplored territory, but it is on this road where your strength grows and your dreams gradually reveal themselves. Read the book: The Road Less Travelled.

 

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  1. Taking baby steps in the right direction: Throughout this beautiful day you have hundreds of little opportunities to move your life in the direction you want it to go. When was the last time you woke up and realized that today could be the best day of your life? Participate in your dreams today. Do it! Take one small step forward, there are plenty of ways to do so. Remember, success is something you experience when you act accordingly. Success is not something you HAVE, it’s something you DO.

 

  1. Trying and failing and trying again: Stick to it and keep moving forward, even when the path gets rough. One of the most common causes of long-term failure is the habit of quitting after a temporary defeat. Many of your greatest achievements will be realized when you’re completely exhausted and discouraged but still working because when it’s all said and done, it really doesn’t matter if you try and try and try, and fail and fail and fail, until you eventually learn what you need to know to succeed. It does matter, however, if you try and fail once and fail to try ever again. Bottom line: you only have to succeed the very last time. Read the book: The Success Principles.

 

  1. Working through your fears: How you handle your fears will ultimately determine where you go and what you do with the majority of your life – to experience life fully or be incapacitated by the fear of it. Although fear can feel overwhelming, and defeats more people than any other one thing in the world, it’s not as powerful as it seems. Fear is only as deep as your mind allows. You are still in control. The key is to acknowledge your fear and directly address it. You must step right up and confront it face-to-face. This tactic robs fear of its power.

 

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  1. Seeking happiness from within: A choice, not circumstances, determines happiness. Your happiness isn’t out there somewhere waiting for you, it’s already within you. Each morning when you open your eyes, say to yourself: “I, not external people or events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. It’s up to me. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t come yet. I have just today and I’m going to be happy in it.”

 

  1. Practicing small acts of kindness: Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” If you have big plans that can make a real impact in the lives of the masses, by all means, execute your plans, but don’t let these big plans interfere with the small deeds you can do every day for the people around you. If you wait until you can do something big for everyone, instead of just something small for someone, you’ll end up doing nothing at all for anyone.

 

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  1. Tracking and measuring your progress: You are always moving toward something, but YOU have to decide what that something is. Don’t let someone else decide for you. From where you stand now you can go anywhere. There are paths leading in every imaginable direction. What matters the most right now is the next step you take. Decide what you truly want for yourself and those closest to you, and know that there is a way, right now, to begin the journey of getting there. When your intentions and actions have a specific, focused purpose, each step you take will carry you closer to the realization of that purpose. Read the book: The Power of Habit.

 

  1. Letting small annoyances go: Today, go through your day consciously. Make an effort to notice at least one insignificant little frustration that you would normally get frustrated about. Then do yourself a favour and simply let it go. Experience, in this little way, the grand freedom of being in control of the way you feel and realize that you can extend this same level of control to every situation you encounter in life.

 

At any given moment, the way you feel is the way you choose to feel, and the way you react is the way you choose to react.

 

 

Why unconditional acceptance is transformational

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Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

 

  1. How strong is my sense of self?

 

  1. Do I know my values?

 

  1. How do I acknowledge myself?

 

  1. What role does service play in my life?

 

  1. How do I cope with stresses within relationships?

 

  1. How much am I willing to share my vulnerabilities?

 

  1. How strong is my sense of purposefulness?

 

  1. To what extent do I trust?

 

  1. How important is my growth and development?

 

  1. How authentic am I?

 

Make time to reflect on each question and journal your responses

 

What do bloggers do when they are not writing?

Have you ever wondered what Bloggers do when they are not writing or taking photographs for their blogs? They either attend or organise a Meet Up in the town where they live or in the city nearest to them.

MeetUps are neighbours getting together to learn something, do something or share something. I attended one of these this past weekend and simply have to share this awesome experience with you.

The event was organised (as always) by our very efficient and generous host Cindy Alfino from 3Kids2Dogsand1Oldhouse. Read more about the event here: The venue for our event was Chinos Coffee House in Kenilworth, Cape Town, South Africa – Find them here:

Our main speaker was a lady called Abigail from . . .

Specialist Women’s Portraiture

who shared some valuable information with us regarding the use of photographs and what the Copyright law says about using photographs taken by others and downloaded from the internet. The extra special bonus was the Online Blog Photography course available free to all those who attended this MeetUp. Thank you so much Abigail for your generous gift.

Our Goodie Bags were packed with all sorts of wonderful goodies as usual. Our hostess never ceases to amaze and impress us all with what she ends up putting in our Goodie Bags. Let me tell you about some of the stuff I found in my bag . . .

 

The Entertainer –  Find them here:

Entertainer App

This is an app available for all IOS and Android devices available through your App Playstore. This app for your mobile device gives you access to buy one get one free offers to the best restaurants, activities, attractions, spas and hotels across 40 destinations throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.

 

Rain Day Spa –  

Home

We received some lovely handmade soap, African Rain Hand Lotion and a gift voucher towards our next purchase at any of their stores.

 

Milly and Me –  Find them here:

MillyandMe

We received a discount voucher towards our next purchase via their online store.

Lavender in Lavender Hill –

Lavender Hill Products

Pack of tea bags: two Lavender and Rooibos teabags and two Lavender Honeybush tea bags. Find out more about the health benefits of Lavender here:  The benefits of lavender:

SelfieStickerZA –

Selfie Sticker

The new way of taking a selfie without having to carry a selfie stick around with you. Find out more about this revolutionary product here: Find out more here:

Canal Walk Gift Card – Thank you to Canal Walk for their generous gift. Find them here:

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics – 

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

A beautifully scented Shimmy Shimmy Soap Bar. Apparently if you rub the bar directly on any area of the body in slow gentle strokes allowing the bar to slowly melt on the skin it will leave that part of your body with a shimmer to the skin. You can find out more about them here: Find more information here

Revlon Cosmetics – 

Revlon Products

Another sponsor who never fails to impress and surprise us. I received in my bag an Ultra HD Matte Lip Colour (Pink – which has a Strawberry flavour) and an Ultimate All-in-One Mascara (Blackest Black) which has 5 benefits all in one: Volume, Length, Definition, Lift and Intense Colour. Find them here

Oh So Heavenly – 

Oh So Heavenly

Have you heard about their newly launched product range called Hair Scentsations? I’m looking forward to trying this sample of hair shampoo and conditioner I found in my Goodie Bag. Smells like mixed berries. Mmmmm . . . together with my lip colour from Revlon will make me smell good enough to eat. #LoveyourColour. http://www.ohsoheavenly.co.za

 

There was so much more in the Goodie Bag, I’ve decided to keep my post short by only focusing on these items here.

 

This event is definitely a must to attend. You cannot afford to miss the next one. I sure am looking forward to the next one myself.

To get on the mailing list for the next event, sign up to our mailer here: Sign up here:

Looking forward to seeing you all at the next #CTMeetUp

Redefining myself and my life – 5 key life changing results

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The more you break out of your shell in life, the more people will be threatened by seeing you reach your true potential. I have decided to fight back and choose my identity once and for all, without stressing about other people’s opinions.

 

Defining myself and the way I define myself:

  • People tend to define us very narrowly. They do this because they want to stereotype us, based on our personality, the way we’ve been in the past, based on our career and it’s a shame because we are complex creatures as human beings. We have many passions and many things we are drawn to in life. We can have many potential skill sets, we can have many different lifetimes in one lifetime if we don’t fall into that trap of putting ourselves in the box that everybody else tries to put us into. We have to rage against that.
  • Trying something new. Every time I try to start something new there’s always that one person who will try to put me back in my box. They will say things like “no, you’re not allowed to do that, you said you were going to do X, so that is what you’re going to have to do.” “So now you’re going to do this?” “That’s not what you do.” If I continually shield one side of myself from the other then I’m never painting a full picture of myself.

 

I’ve been too narrowly defined up to now and need to break free from that definition. I need to see what I am capable of. Hey, I’ve lived this long, I’m going to live this much longer, what do I want to be different for the next few years of my life?

  • How do I want to explore what I am capable of that I haven’t been able to explore yet?
  • In what ways do I want to change, to evolve, to grow?

 

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I need to look at my life right now – how I live day to day and track how I sabotage myself.  There are a few things I could do to help me with this. For example:

 

Daily Diary:

  • How do I spend my day hour by hour?
  • Am I focussing on the right things in my life?

 

Being busy does not equal being productive. Keeping a daily diary is where I can get smart about “what” I spend my time doing. It’s also good to keep a food diary so you can see what is affecting your energy levels and your body in general.

 

Emotional Diary:

I need to look at the emotions I experience frequently and what triggers them. Thought processes and situations cause feelings, triggers for emotions. Once I have these I can really begin to understand the forces behind my emotions and will enable me to change them rapidly.

 

Notice Board:

Here is where I need to write down what I notice about my life, i.e. what I would like to change, the direction I am going in the long term, the people around me, the way my life is structured. This is essential in looking at what I want to change/progress I want to make in my life.

 

Life is too short, far too short to work without purpose; to coast in our relationships; to get stuck in a routine without ever asking myself the question of what I really want in life. Too many people are too busy, too few are fulfilled.

 

How often do you step away from your packed and stressful routine to look at the things you are doing and the direction you are taking?

Table Mountain, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Table Mountain, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

I am the most incredible asset I will ever have.

My ability to take care of people will collapse if I don’t take care of “me” first.

 

We all have patterns of self-sabotage. We all have things internally that hold us back. We don’t have direction/drive/core confidence, we are always stressed, don’t have time, find ways to feel guilty etc. that stop us from moving forward.

 

All we need is to make tiny changes internally to make huge external changes in our lives and in our happiness. There are five stumbling blocks/five key issues we face.

 

  1. Direction: A person who lacks direction doesn’t know where they are going in life or know where they want to go but don’t know how to get there, so they feel lost.

 

  1. Environment: The person knows where they want to go but don’t have a strategy for getting there, they don’t have a roadmap. These are the people who are always talking about this “thing” they want in life but don’t know how they’re going to get it i.e. they don’t have a plan.

 

  1. Drive: This person knows their destination, they have a road map for getting but they don’t have any drive, or at least not sustainable drive – the kind of drive where they wake up every morning with the same level of empowerment that says “I’m ready for today.” You can’t go to bed late enough and can’t get up early enough because you are just so excited about life. The way you feel on the most productive day – the day when you feel like you can conquer the world. We have formulas for getting to a certain level of drive or any emotion – there’s a formula for feeling ambitious, happy, excited, energetic – there’s a formula for getting there but there’s also a formula for feeling the opposite i.e. unhappy, lazy, feeling like you don’t want to do anything, feeling depressed. These formulas happen on an unconscious level so we get there by mistake but we can even get there on purpose because we have programmed ourselves that way.

 

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  1. People/time/energy/skills (qualifications/talent): Some people have all of these but they don’t have the resources. Maybe it’s money right now? “I can’t do what I need to do because I don’t have the money.” Maybe it’s time? “I don’t have the time to do it, I’m just so busy, I’m so stressed all the time, I can barely find an hour at the end of the day to have a shower, let alone go pursue my dream.” Or maybe you think you don’t know the right people. You can learn how to access the right people. You can learn how to access the right people who can direct you to where you need to go or where you need to be.

 

  1. Self-worth and confidence (core confidence): You can have all of the above but without core confidence (feeling invincible from the inside), all the above will be rather useless to you. Having self-worth and core confidence is the part that says “you’re worth it/you deserve it/you’re good enough for this.

 

Unless point number 5 falls into place no aspect of our life will “click” in the way that you want it to because the key to life is believing on some level that I am worthy of everything the other person has, that there is no difference between me and this other person. I deserve the exact same thing any other person has.

 

When you believe that, that’s when everything real changes. Without that, you could have all the resources, all the time, all the money etc and none of it will make any difference.

 

These five key issues will give you life-changing results.

The girl (woman) in the mirror . . . who is she?

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She is someone whose level of confidence shifts depending on what’s going on around her. In certain conditions there is a feeling of confidence but in others there is discomfort and uncertainty – shyness, self-judgement, fear, unworthiness, or uselessness. Therapists classify this as External Confidence or Situational Confidence, i.e. it does or doesn’t exist depending on influences from the outside world – the general circumstances of our lives and circumstances in each individual moment.

 

In contrast, therapists say Core Confidence comes from within and is not reliant on outside sources. When we are confident from the core, we are not paralyzed in the face of new, uncomfortable, or unusual circumstances, and we don’t base our actions on our fears of what others will think. Regardless of the situation, we know that we have something to offer, that we are worthy, and that we have been and are able to be successful.

 

How does the girl in the mirror build her core confidence?

 

She needs to stop comparing herself to others:

We all come from different walks of life.  Each and every person is born unique and has had their own individual experiences throughout their journey thus far. No one shares the exact same story and we are not meant to. There’s no sense trying to compare apples to oranges. There is no better or lesser, only different.

If the girl in the mirror wants something to compare herself to, she should compare herself as she is now to the way she used to be and not compare herself to others in the world.

 

She needs to trust herself:

No matter what happened in her life up to this point, she has made it through each and every challenge that life has thrown at her, and she is still alive and standing here today, looking at ways in which she can improve herself. That, in its own right should give her a strong level of belief in her own strength. It does not matter how gracefully she did it, all that matters is that she did it. It might not be pretty, but it doesn’t have to be, and if she does not believe in herself (yet) and doesn’t trust herself (yet), she should give it a try. She needs to set one small goal and stick to it. Just do it . . .  one step at a time. She will gain a sense of pride and confidence in herself, and the more she does it, the easier it will become in tricky situations.

 

 

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She needs to live in the moment:

When we live in the moment we are only concerned with what is presented to us right then and there. When we are in action we are confident – we have made a choice and acting on it, that is what confidence is – the ability to take action. As soon as we slip into worry or judgement we’re no longer living in the moment. Judgement comes from a place of remembering what went wrong before and comparing now to then. Worry comes from a fear of what might happen not what is actually happening now.

 

When the girl in the mirror finds herself worrying or judging herself, she needs to shift gears. She needs to do HER best, in the moment with what she has – that’s all she can do. She needs to stay present and focus on what’s here now, and use what she has to offer.

 

She needs to learn from the past:

Shame and negative self-talk are the enemy of confidence. When we are demoralized, we cannot access confidence. We all do things we wish we’d done differently, but when we get caught in self-judgement and relive situations it amplifies negative thinking and creates negative and/or anxious feelings.

 

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Continuing to replay an incident means there is something she needs to accept in order to move on. The girl in the mirror needs to accept that she is fallible or maybe the lesson is that she needs to stand up for herself – connecting with confidence so that next time she can say or do the things that will make her feel good about herself. When she finds herself obsessing about a past incident she should:

  • STOP the instant replay
  • Pick one small lesson from that experience . . . just one thing she will do differently next time
  • Thank herself for the lesson and breathe in self-compassion, giving herself the courage to do that one thing differently next time

 

She should be open to possibility:

If the girl in the mirror has already decided who she is based on who she may have been in the past, then she has shut down her POSSIBILITIES, but if she lets that go and allows herself to be who she is in the moment – she has the possibility to be anything she wants to be. She should not judge herself based on her past and she should not hope for liberation in the future. Right now, be here. She should believe that she is capable of anything at any moment. She is capable of change, but only if she is not defined by her past or bound to the future.

 

 

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The girl in the mirror needs to practice, be disciplined and follow-through:

Core confidence cannot be achieved overnight, it takes work and practice for core confidence to become automatic. When she finds herself in a situation where she feels she lacks confidence, she should remember how she feels when she IS confident and know that confidence is possible for her.

She needs to set small goals and stick to them. It takes time and discipline, but the more she follows through on things the more pride she will feel in her abilities and the more confidence she will build.

When she reminds herself of her strengths in other situations it will be easier to carry that strength over into new situations and gradually into ALL situations.

 

She needs a higher purpose:

When setting a goal, the girl in the mirror needs to shift her focus to the journey. She needs to pay attention to WHY she is working towards her goal and HOW she is doing it. She needs to ask herself:

  • What do I really want from achieving the goal?
  • Why did I choose the goal?
  • What is my purpose?
  • What desired qualities do I hope to achieve which lie beneath and beyond the tangible goal?

 

 

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The girl in the mirror needs to keep her focus on her greater purpose – why does she have the goal she has? WHO does she want to be and how does she want to be?

 

Confidence exists in the here and now, and the core confidence she has when she connects with this purpose cannot ever be taken away from her.

5 Powerful Ways to Free Yourself from Negativity

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Be wise enough to let go of the negativity inside you.

 

I know my negativity kills me, so why do I think like this?

 

Thinking “the worst”, expecting catastrophic failure and betrayal, seeing problems where others don’t and even seeing positives as negatives – all convey a kind of emotional insurance policy. “If I expect the worst, then I won’t be disappointed if and when in happens.”

 

Can you relate in any way? I can . . .  this is exactly what I do. There’s another quote that says: “those with little expectations in life are seldom disappointed.” Which is almost a cousin to negativity because you are also guarding yourself against being disappointed.

 

Another negative thinking trap that can mess with us is the “I told you so” syndrome.  For some people, it can feel more important to be proved right in their negative predictions than to have good things happen (and therefore be proved “wrong”).

 

Before I get too positive about negativity though, here’s a thought: The habit of thinking negatively doesn’t just predict how likely someone is to become depressed, but also predicts how likely they are to suffer from all sorts of other diseases and disorders later on in life. I’m not suggesting that negative thinking alone creates disease, but it certainly doesn’t help!

 

In this post we’re going to look at what you can do to stop thinking negatively, but first, let’s examine a super-common mistake negative people tend to make:

 

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Negative people are often proud to describe themselves as “realists”. Of course, anyone who holds a strong belief thinks they are being “realistic” by holding it, whether it involves UFO encounters or perfectly truthful politicians.

 

The “being more realistic” declarations is a favourite of cynics everywhere, and, in a way, they are correct but only because negative thinking causes us not to try – or if we do try, to do it half-heartedly and give up sooner – so the negativity itself influences our outcomes. Self-fulfilling predictions like this really happen. Research has even found that in some cases what we believe about our health can have more bearing on how long we live than our actual health.

 

What makes all of this so scary is the fact that it means negative thoughts can plague us even when things seem to be going relatively well. For instance, the thought “It’s too good to last!” quickly wrecks havoc on a positive situation. Thus, my first tip has to do with how negative thinking distorts our perception.

 

  1. Stop thinking in extremes: Life simply isn’t black or white – 100% of this or 100% of that – all or nothing. Thinking in extremes like this is a fast way to misery, because negative thinking tends to view any situation that’s less than perfect as being extremely bad. For example: Instead of saying the rainstorm slowed down my commute home from work, we say “it wasted my whole evening and ruined my night!” Instead of saying my business venture took a while to gain traction, we say “it’s never going to work, and it’s going to completely ruin my financial future.” Instead of just accepting the nervousness of meting a new group of people, we say “I know these people are not going to like me.”

 

All or nothing thinking completely misses out the subtle shades in life. It makes us see the future in terms of dramatic disasters, disappointments and catastrophes. Sure, disasters occasionally happen, but contrary to what you may see on the evening news, most of life occurs in a grey area between the extremes of bliss and devastation.

 

The first step to overcoming negative thinking isn’t to “just be positive” suddenly, but to carefully look for shades of grey. Say you’ve been worrying about an intimate relationship. Rather than thinking: “It’s going to end with two broken hearts, I just know it is” or even “It’s going to be absolutely perfect 24/7,” how about: “I expect there will be great times, good times, and not so good times, but we will work together, respect each other, and give our relationship a fair chance before drawing any conclusions.”

 

 

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  1. Stop over-generalising the negative: Ask yourself: “If something negative unexpectedly happens, do I over-generalize it? Do I view it as applying to everything and being permanent rather than compartmentalizing it to one place and time?”

 

For example, if someone turns you down for a date, do you spread the negativity beyond that person, time and place by telling yourself: “Relationships never work out for me, ever”? If you fail an exam do you say to yourself, “Well, I failed that exam; I’m not happy about it, but I’ll study harder next time”? or do you over-generalize by telling yourself you’re “not smart enough” or “incapable of learning”?

 

  1. Stop minimizing the positive: Negative thinking stops us from seeing and experiencing positive outcomes, even when they happen often. It’s as if there’s a special mental screen filtering out all the positives and only letting in data that confirms the “negative bias”. Magnifying setbacks and minimizing successes leads to de-motivation and misery in the long run. Know this!

 

Get into the habit of seeing setbacks as temporary and specific learning experiences rather than as permanent and pervasive misfortunes. We all tend to find what we look for in life. If you find yourself thinking negatively about a person, for instance, get into the habit of balancing it out with one positive thought about them: “She’s so selfish . . . Mind you, to be fair, she was helpful when my car broke down last year . . .  and she does have a good sense of humour . . .” The positive is always there somewhere, but you have to search for it.

 

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  1. Stop looking for negative signs from others: Too often we jump to conclusions, only to cause ourselves and others unnecessary frustration, hurt and anger. If someone says one thing, don’t assume they mean something else. If they say nothing at all, don’t assume their silence has some hidden, negative connotation.

Thinking negatively will inevitably lead you to interpret everything another person does as being negative, especially when you are uncertain about what the other person is thinking. For instance, “he hasn’t called, so he must not want to talk to me,” or, “She only said that to be nice, but she doesn’t really mean it.”

 

Assigning meaning to a situation before you have the whole story makes you more likely to believe that the uncertainty you feel (based on lack of knowing) is a negative sign. On the flip side, holding off on assigning meaning to an incomplete story is essential to overcoming negative thinking. When you think more positively, or simply more clearly about the facts, you’ll be able to evaluate all possible reasons you can think of, not just the negative ones. In other words, you’ll be doing more of: “I don’t know why he hasn’t called, but maybe . . .”

 

  • He’s extremely busy at work
  • His phone has a poor signal in the office building
  • He’s simply waiting for me to call him

 

You get the idea? None of these circumstances are negative and all area s plausible as any other possible explanation.

 

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Next time you feel uncertain and insecure, and you catch yourself stressing about a problem that doesn’t exist, stop yourself and take a deep breath. Then tell yourself, “This problem I’m concerned with only exists in my mind.” Being able to distinguish between what you imagine and what is actually happening in your life is an important step towards living a positive life.

 

  1. Stop making unreasonable rules and expectations: You must deal with the world the way it is, not the way you expect it to be. Life is under no obligation to give you exactly what you expect. In fact, whatever it is you’re seeking will rarely ever come in the form you’re expecting, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful.

 

Stop forcing your own misconstrued expectations and rules on life . . .

  • “He was late, so he must not care about me.” – Or perhaps “he just got caught in traffic”.
  • “If I can’t do this correctly, then I must not be smart enough.” – or perhaps you just need more practice.
  • “I haven’t heard back from my doctor, so the test results must be bad.” – Or perhaps the lab is just really busy and your results aren’t available yet.

 

Inventing rules like these about how life must be, based on your own stubborn expectations, is a great way to keep your mind stuck in the gutter. This isn’t to say that you should never expect anything at all from yourself and others (diligence, honesty, determination, etc), but rather that the rules that govern your expectations should not steer you toward unreasonably negative conclusions.

 

If you feel dissatisfied or let down by an outcome, then you must have been expecting something different. Rather than get upset, ask yourself, “Were my expectations too narrow?” and “What new truths have I learned?”

 

The bottom line is that you must see and accept things as they are instead of as you hoped, wished, or expected them to be. Just because it didn’t turn out like you had envisioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what you need to get to where you ultimately want to go.

 

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Afterthoughts:

There is a quote I’ve always loved that’s often credited to Ignatius:

 

“Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.”

 

That’s a strong way to live. It’s about using your faith to fuel positive thinking and positive action, every single day.

 

That is what I wish for myself and this is what I wish for you.