Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Self Help - How To Be More Positive About The Things That Happen

By Petris Lapis

How To Be More Positive About The Things That Happen

Positive meanings (thoughts) give rise to positive emotions. Negative meanings (thoughts) give rise to negative emotions. Positive thoughts do not give rise to negative emotions and negative thoughts do not give rise to positive emotions. Negative emotions debilitate you mentally, emotionally and eventually even physically.

Let's refer to positive meanings as green thoughts (give them the 'go' ahead) and negative thoughts as red thoughts ('stop' them in their tracks).

In life you seek to get a green light whenever you can. You are happy when you get them and they let you keep moving forward. Red lights, on the other hand, cause you unnecessary delays, slow your progress and can cause you stress. The same is true of green thoughts and red thoughts.

Apparently at the pinnacle of our personal growth lies a place where you can view an event with detachment and have neither a red nor green thought about it. I got very excited on the one or two occasions I have been able to do this. The rest of the time I use strategies to be aware of the meaning I have placed upon an event and other strategies to ensure I choose to place green rather than red meanings upon the event. Successful people place empowering meanings upon events and challenges are more easily overcome while you are feeling positive rather than negative emotions.

As the ultimate outcome of every event that happens in your life is your personal growth, it is always possible to find a green meaning to place upon even the worst of events. The green outcome could be for example, another lesson learned, a higher understanding, a stronger character or more wisdom gained.

For example, an arsonist burned down a block of classrooms at our local school. As traumatic as it was for the children and parents, the toll on the teachers was even more severe. One of the teachers lost 25 years of teaching materials and was so traumatized by the event that being around campfires and BBQs caused her distress. She was subsequently unable to teach at the school and went on stress leave. During the next year her long term relationship broke down, she moved house and entered into custody arrangements for her children. I saw her two years later and asked how she was going. She smiled and said, "Out of the ashes of despair, rise the seedlings of new beginnings. I am now teaching a Grade 2 class at another school with lovely children, my partner and I have an amicable relationship, my new little house is very beautiful, I have started yoga and meditating and I feel much more at peace than I ever have before. I suspect that the arsonist's flames provided the wind beneath my wings. Without it I would not have made some of the wonderful changes that have occurred in my life."

So how do you go about placing a green rather than a red meaning upon an event? There are several ways you can empower yourself by turning red thoughts into green thoughts and placing a more positive meaning upon events:
  1. Using challenge thoughts.
  2. The art of reframing.
  3. Using positive language.
  4. Asking yourself better questions.
  5. Judging situations differently.
  6. Adopting an attitude of gratitude.

You will be happier if you seek always to find the silver lining in every cloud and rejoice in the cup being half full rather than bemoaning the fact that the cup is half empty. You are responsible for the meaning you place upon events. You can choose to place either a positive helpful meaning upon an event or a negative unhelpful meaning.

1. Challenge Thoughts

Challenge thoughts are thoughts that challenge your thinking. When you have a red thought (and we all do), the best thing to do is to challenge the thinking behind the red thought and turn it into a green thought.

Challenge thoughts are thoughts such as:
  • Is that really true?
  • Am I exaggerating?
  • Did I do my best?
  • Why do I think this is true?
  • What examples can I find that make this not true?

For example, Jolie finds herself in front of the television on Friday night. She thinks, "I am such a loser. I have no friends." This is a red thought. As soon as Jolie is aware she has had a red thought, she can challenge the thought by asking herself, "Is that really true? Do I really have no friends? Who are my friends?" She will then have the information she needs to turn the red thought into a green thought. Once she is thinking more positively, she can then plan to take actions so that she is no longer alone on Friday night.

2. The Art Of Reframing

'We're not retreating, we're just advancing in another direction.' - General. S. Patton

Once you have challenged your red thought, you then use reframing to turn red thoughts into green thoughts and avoid entering into negative or unhelpful emotions. In a nutshell reframing simply requires you to look at situations through green glasses rather than through red glasses.

Life always gives us the ability to reframe red thoughts into green thoughts. Those weeks that are the hardest, those employers that are the toughest, those break ups that rip our heart into little pieces; those are the moments that offer us the greatest opportunities for self-learning and growth. Once the pain has worn off, those are the moments we can be grateful for. They contributed the most to our character, our courage and our self worth. For this reason, it is always possible to view any event through more than one perspective.

Example #1

A man is driving his new sports car along a winding mountain road. The wind is whistling through his hair and he feels good about life. A young boy on the side of the road throws a rock at his car. The outraged man stops his car and storms over to the young boy. His muscles are clenched and his jaw is tight from the seething tide of anger that is surging through him.

As the man approaches, he notices the young boy is hurt, appears to be in shock and has tears in his eyes. The young boy says, "I'm so sorry I threw that rock at your car sir. We've had an accident and my mum is trapped in the car at the bottom of the hill. It was the only way I could think of to get you to stop and help us."

Example #2

One day a donkey was walking along watching a butterfly flit in the sunshine when he fell down a well. The farmer came to investigate the noise the donkey was making and was very dismayed to learn that his donkey had fallen down the well. He thought for a long time, but could not see any way to rescue the donkey from the well.

After a while he concluded:

  • The donkey would be missed, but the farmer could survive without him;
  • The donkey would smell very bad if left to die at the bottom of the well;
  • The well had dried up and was quite dangerous; and
  • The best solution would be to fill the well with dirt. This would stop the terrible smell from the soon to be dead donkey and would make the well safe.

That afternoon the farmer and his neighbors began to fill the well with dirt. They chatted about life and the weather as they threw shovel after shovel of dirt into the well.

At first the donkey was outraged by the insult and the decision the farmer had made. His outrage increased with each clod of dirt and the pain it made as it hit him on the back. Then the donkey realized that the pain from the dirt hitting his back wasn't going to kill him. He also realized that if he shook his body, the dirt fell off, landed on the ground and he could stand on it.

The farmers kept throwing dirt into the well and the donkey kept shaking it off. Eventually the farmers were stunned to see the donkey's ears rising out of the filling well.

Example #3

Suzanne didn't have the skills she needed to get a promotion in her part-time Government position. She had never managed an underperforming employee nor did she have experience in making presentations or chairing meetings. The person she shared a position with went on leave and she was required to work full-time for a fortnight. During this time some major Government policy changes occurred and a seriously underperforming employee had to be put through a formal warning process.

Her supervisor, who would normally have handled these tasks, became ill at the same time. As a result, Suzanne had to do the following tasks she had never done before:

  • Take the underperforming employee through the formal warning process;
  • Draft documents and present them to the Government Minister; and
  • Chair a meeting for 50 people including a Government Minister and 40 senior public servants.

At the end of the fortnight she told me that she had just lived through the worst two weeks of her life. It wasn't until I said to her, "Didn't that fortnight just give you the skills to apply for your promotion?" that she smiled.

So, how do you reframe your perspective on a situation? Once again it is as simple as pulling yourself up and asking yourself questions such as:

  • "What is another meaning this situation could have?"
  • "What is another perspective on this situation?"
  • "What is another outcome that could arise from this situation?"
  • "What is a positive outcome that could arise from this situation?"

Example #1

Assume a father doesn't allow his teenage daughter go to a party with her friends. The teenager sees it as. "My father doesn't love me and he doesn't care if I am humiliated in front of my friends."

The teenager could ask herself, "What is another meaning that this event could have?"

She could conclude, "In fact he loves and cares for me so much that he wants me to be safe and have appropriate boundaries."

Example #2

Assume a single father of two wishes to start his own business. The single father sees the situation as: "I could not possibly start my own business as I am a single father."

He could ask himself, "What is another perspective I could take on this situation?"

He could conclude, "Anyone who can raise two children on his own and be there for them 24/7 has the perseverance and commitment it takes to run a successful business."

3. Use Positive Language

Another way to adopt a positive perspective is to use positive language. Our unconscious minds don't recognize negations such as "don't", "won't", "shouldn't" etc. If I say to you, "Don't think about your left elbow." What did you think about? That's right, your left elbow. If I say to you, "Don't think about a big fluffy teddy bear with a red bow." What did you think about? That's right. To even make sense of the instruction, you have to think about the thing you were not supposed to think about. By using negations in your language (including self-talk), you get yourself to focus upon the very thing you are trying to avoid.

For example, if you say to yourself, "I am not going to think about how far in debt I am", then how far in debt you are is the very thing you have just focused upon.

You will, however, have the right focus and perspective if you frame your internal self-talk positively in terms of what you want to focus upon, rather than negatively in terms of what you don't want to focus upon. The same principles apply here as for setting goals.

For example, when you are going to the grocery store, choose to say "Remember the bread", rather than "Don't forget the bread."

This technique works equally well when speaking to other people. For example, you see your four year old jumping on the couch. Instead of saying, "Don't jump on the couch", phrase it positively in terms of the behavior you do want. You could try, "Hop onto the floor and come here for a hug", "Jump on the trampoline instead" or "Get off the coach and play on the floor".

4. Asking Yourself Better Questions

We have already seen the power of using questions to help us to challenge red thoughts and to reframe ourselves into adopting a more positive perspective upon an event. The way you ask yourself questions also affects the perspective you take on situations.

Questions such as "Why can't I do this?" assume:

  • There is something to be done; and
  • You cannot do it.

Questions such as "How can I more easily make this work?" assume:

  • It can work;
  • There are a number of ways to do it; and
  • That you can do it easily.

For example, assume you are concerned about your weight. If you ask yourself, "Why am I so fat?" or "How can I not be fat anymore?" you have kept your focus upon your weight (the problem), rather than upon the solution. Questions like this also continue to reinforce your impression of yourself as being fat.

It is more helpful instead to ask yourself a question such as, "How am I going to easily become fit, healthy and strong?" A question phrased like this is more helpful for your emotions, thoughts and self-esteem as it assumes:

  • It is possible for you to be fit, healthy and strong.
  • There are a number of different ways in which you can achieve this goal for yourself.
  • You can do it.
  • It can be done easily.

The power of asking the right question is evidenced powerfully in Stanislavsky Lech's story. He was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II. Despite other people telling him that it wasn't possible, he continued to ask himself how he could escape. By doing so he kept escape open as a possibility in his life. Those around him had ruled it out as a possibility in their life and stopped looking for ways to escape.

Eventually the answer came to him. He stripped naked, climbed into the back of a truck piled high with bodies from the gas chamber and made his escape.

5. Judging Situations

"No pressure, no diamonds." - Anonymous

When we judge whether a situation or event is positive or negative, we do so by comparing it to something else. We judge a situation as being negative when we compare it with something better. We judge a situation as being positive when we compare it with something worse.

The key to maintaining a positive attitude is to be aware of the comparisons you make and choosing only those that are empowering for you. In the following picture, Roman could be very happy owning a small car if he compared it to owning a bicycle. Conversely he could be unhappy with owning a small car if he compared it with owning a top of the range sports car. How he will feel about it will depend upon the choice he makes.

There are always numerous perspectives from which you could choose to judge whether an event has a positive or a negative meaning for you.

For example:

  • A million dollar turnover to a small businesswoman is a cause for celebration when compared to what she made last year.
  • A million dollar turnover for a large business is a catastrophe when compared to the turnover it made last year.
  • A small cottage with running water may be the most wonderful thing for a tribesman, but a terrible thing for a multi millionaire used to living in 5 star hotel rooms.

The way in which we judge whether a situation is positive or negative and the impact it has on our response is beautifully illustrated in a story that was distributed on the internet several years ago.

Example of a letter from a college student:

Dear Mum and Dad

Apologies for taking so long to write, but my writing utensils were destroyed in the fire at my apartment. I am out of the hospital and the doctor says that I should be able to lead a normal healthy life. A handsome young man called Pete saved me from the fire and kindly offered to share his apartment with me. He is very kind and polite and from a good family, so I think you'll approve when I tell you that we got married last week. I know you'll be even more excited when I tell you that you are going to be grandparents very soon.

Actually, there wasn't a fire, I haven't been in hospital, I'm not married and I'm not pregnant, but I did fail my biology exam and I just wanted to make sure that when I told you, you put it in a proper perspective.


Your daughter

6. Adopting An Attitude Of Gratitude

Adopting an attitude of gratitude also helps you to maintain a positive perspective on situations. It is often easier to wallow in the negativity of a 'dreadful' situation but doing so doesn't empower you or even help you to get through each day. Choose instead to find the silver lining in every cloud and embrace the blessings that arise from the same situation and understand and grow from the lessons you have learned and the experience you have gained.

It is possible to find reasons to be grateful in all situations.

Example #1

  • In the death of a friend or family member is cause to be grateful for the time you had with them and the joy they brought into your life.
  • In the serious illness is the chance for legitimate time out, recovery and reflection.
  • In the child with physical impairment is the gratitude for the ability to share time with a soul on a fast track, a brave courageous being who may have much to teach you.
  • In the loss of material assets, is the chance to start again.
  • In the ending of a relationship is the chance for a new beginning.
  • In the failure of a business is the valuable knowledge of what not to do next time.

Example #2

As another example, Andrew had been dating Sharon for 8 years. They decided to get married. Their family members flew from a number of different countries for the wedding. It was the night before the wedding. Andrew realized during the pre-wedding dinner that his greatest fear was walking out of the church after the wedding and seeing the girl he should have married. It took much courage, but he stood up during the pre-wedding dinner and called off the wedding. This became one of the worst moments of his life both financially and emotionally. Three weeks later he injured himself while playing sport and was admitted to hospital. His ex-fiancée visited him in hospital and told him that he was getting his 'just desserts'. Half an hour later, the nursing staff changed their shift and into his room walked the nurse he eventually married. If he had not been courageous and lived through the difficult times associated with calling off his wedding, he may never have met his soul mate. (His ex-fiancee also met her soul mate several months later).

Example #3

Julianne was repeatedly molested in her teen years. She could have asked people for sympathy and used it as a justifiable excuse or reason for ensuring that things in her life didn't work out. Instead, today she can look back at that event and be grateful because it gave her the drive, the stubbornness and the determination to succeed and prove to herself that she was worthy of love and respect.

Petris Lapis, Director of Keys To Potential Pty Ltd the new and exciting approach to personal growth, easy unconscious change, self help, opening your heart and unlocking your potential for a fuller more magnificent life. Visit now to book your seat at the next workshop. http://www.KeysToPotential.com

Article Source: Self Help - How To Be More Positive About The Things That Happen

No comments:

Post a Comment