How to beat negative thoughts with positive affirmations
When we think about our everyday lives, it's easy to think we're in a much better position to experience fulfilment than our grandmothers and even our mothers.
We have automatic machines to help us do the housework, we're no longer routinely discriminated against in the workplace and we can be entertained by the media 24/7 if we so wish.
However, it could also be argued that this having it all comes at price to our mental wellbeing and internal equilibrium. How many times have you had to juggle your career with childcare or felt as though you daren't have a day off work for fear that your boss will discover he or she doesn't actually need you any longer?
It's no wonder that 30 per cent of people admitted to feeling anxious or stressed most days in a recent poll by the Mirror to coincide with National Gut Week – never have we put so much pressure on ourselves and expected so much.
Yet this could be immensely dangerous in the long run. We might say we're stressed out as a matter of course these days, but extended periods of emotional turmoil could cause real health problems including cardiovascular disease and even cognitive problems.
It's time to nip your unnecessary stress in the bud and stop walking around like a coiled spring. If you know you're a worrier and want to kick the habit, why not try some positive affirmations?
What are positive affirmations?
Research has shown that banishing negative thought processes and thinking happy thoughts wherever possible could be enough to lead to more of them, something akin to a snowball effect.
The Stress Institute's Dr Kathleen Hall explained in an interview with the Huffington Post: "Every thought and emotion creates a chemical reaction because it immediately changes our neurochemcicals that affect our mental, physical and spiritual health."
Every thought that pops into your head or word that comes out of your mouth is effectively an affirmation, so we are constantly affecting our subconscious with this stream of consciousness.
However, unchecked, they could be doing more harm than good. That's because some of the things we tell ourselves can be based on invalid conclusions we have drawn from our past, or things others have incorrectly told us (whether innocently or deliberately to harm us).
This may be leading to more negativity and might be the reason why you're trapped in a cycle of anxiety. To emerge from it, you need to replace negative with positive – a positive affirmation is simply a short, upbeat statement aimed at challenging damaging beliefs and 'brain-washing' the mind into becoming more optimistic.
How to use positive affirmations
To use positive affirmations, you first have to choose some – or even just one – to suit your individual circumstances. In order to do this, try sitting quietly with a notebook and jotting down some of the things in your life you'd like to change, whether they're relationship issues, something in your love life or work-related setbacks.
If you're struggling to get enough perspective at this stage, it may help to speak to a psychic with expertise in spiritual life coaching – you can find several at PsychicsOnline.
Once you've got your list, simply work through it and turn the negatives into positives. For example, if you have written 'I'm worried I might never find The One', write 'I deserve to be loved and love will come to me'. If you have jotted down 'I can't cope with looking for a new job', put 'I can and I will'.
Alternatively, if you haven't got a worry about a specific situation, just use a more generic affirmation for general positivity – 'I can and I will' works for this, as does 'I am unique, special; and worthy of good things'.
However, it's important to focus only on what you do want – don't sabotage your list by unwittingly implanting negativity within it. This error can be spotted by looking for any statements that start with 'I won't' or similar phrases.
Once you've got a few you like, it's time to start using them. Start with the first one and say it out loud every morning, preferably while looking in the mirror. If you feel too silly, write it down on a jotter three times instead.
You could also keep your mantra on a sticky notecard somewhere prominent, or even have a bracelet inscribed with it so you see it regularly throughout the day.
Will it work?
It's supposed to take around a month to break a bad habit, so don't expect your worries to go away overnight. Instead, keep chipping away at your negativity, especially if you encounter resistance. Eventually, the subconscious will be forced to listen and generate that positive chemical reaction, setting a happy tone for each day.
With just a little effort, you should be able to replace your dysfunctional beliefs with new truths – and one day, you may just realise that you're thinking positively as a matter of course, rather than preventing yourself from achieving your goals with a negative mindset.