We need to take care of the well-being of our brains now more than ever. We are an over-thinking, over-working, over-worrying society. Our ancestors probably never foresaw a world of so much gloom; the energy we once used as adrenaline to help us outrun sabre-toothed cats now remains lodged within us with nowhere to go. Your result? An implosion of ceaseless anxiety.
And what does anxiety produce? Self-hatred, doubt, resentment and just about every other detrimental emotion our minds can muster.
Yet the truth is that we can learn to control our thoughts. Undoubtedly, this is a difficult concept — because so many of us have latched onto the belief from birth that we are victims, end of story. But as late motivational author Louise Hay would have phrased it: if it’s so impossible to reject negative thoughts about ourselves, how has it been possible for us to spend our whole lives rejecting positive thoughts about ourselves?
Take Control of Your Mind, and Create Your New Reality
I say “Out” to every negative thought that comes to my mind. No person, place, or thing has any power over me, for I am the only thinker in my mind. I create my own reality and everyone in it.
— Louise Hay
I’ll start off by stating I have no business with the school of fixed thinking. If you are a person who believes you are powerless against anything that comes your way in life, be it illness, financial crisis, or the death of someone dear to you – who believes, on some level, that no matter what you do, you will never heal, feel better, or at least find the opportunity that comes with every hardship — then you will not like what I am about to say.
A culture of complainers
Because I believe that in the Western world we have habits that steer us toward negative lives. We listen to sad songs, read depressing books, watch movies about heartbreak, post bitter Facebook statuses about the infinitesimal, and complain about something as insignificant as a grey sky. We are so stuck in our own heads that we even over-analyze what we are going to say to an old school friend we see down the street — and then, of course, beat ourselves up after the encounter, convinced we must have made a fool of our ourselves…
The first step to accepting this is forgiveness. Maya Angelou said “When you know better, you do better” — and it’s true. You are not to blame for the fact that you have lived most of your life accustomed to tendencies that do not enhance your life. Our parents knew no better, because they were taught, as we were, that the world is a scary, cold, dog-eat-dog place destined to disappoint us.
However, I’m here to rearrange your perspective. I’m here to reinforce the growth mindset.
Flip the frame
Our issue is that we’ve spent too much time planting negative thoughts, where no life grows at all. Everything stays dead and cold and sunless. Because we’re so focused on all of the world’s problems, diseases, hardships and hungers, we forget to do anything to try to change them. We set our Facebook profile pictures to a temporary filtered flag over our faces and we feel we’ve done our bit. Your victim mindset would like you to believe you are powerless in helping world causes; though with or without money you really could be doing more and you know it.
Many successful authors, business people and athletes indebt their successes to the Law of Attraction, made famous by author Rhonda Byrne in The Secret. This phenomenon states that if you think and act in alignment with a desire or fear, you will eventually attract that thing into your life. For all of you sceptics out there, however, I’m here to demystify the concept — by reframing it as the Law of Action.
“Actions speak louder than words”
The way we apply this saying to positive thinking is that if you can imagine your most ideal, vibrant, happy self, and then take the steps to act toward becoming that person — eating better, spending more time with those you love and less with those you dislike, choosing a job you enjoy, being in a relationship with someone who supports your growth or ending one with someone who doesn’t, and developing confidence in yourself and your ideas — you will eventually end up being that person.
But it’s a long and gruelling process, littered with ruinous bouts of self-doubt, especially when those closest to you attempt to sabotage your chances of being your best out of a fear of your new power:
Your power to pick yourself back up when once upon a time staying pinned down to the floor was more comfortable.
Your power to look in the mirror and tell yourself that today will be a good day, despite your usual tendency to glare in the mirror with only dread in your eyes.
Your power to banish every useless thought from your brain by staring in its ugly face, feeling it fully, then watching it pass as you do whatever you were scared of anyway.
For now, I’ll close on my favorite, which is from a book called The Second Circle by Patsy Rodenburg. Hopefully it will ignite within you a desire to be your brightest, boldest, most breathtaking self in all encounters: “You are much more alive and brilliant than you allow yourself to be.”