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Thinking positive

Discussion in 'Psychology and MBTI' started by Eniko, May 20, 2009.

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  1. Eniko

    Eniko May snark if provoked
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    After having been subjected to one of the most amazingly positive people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting I've started to become aware how horribly negative a large degree of my thought patterns are, and that my life would be a lot easier if I switched from negative to positive. While those thought processes at one time in my life kept me in fight-ready mode which I needed to keep carrying on they've become incredibly redundant and even counter productive now.

    So. Thinking positive. I have no idea how to do it, but I've gotten some tips. One is to write down positive affirmations like "I like myself", and read them when I get up and when I go to bed. Which I did, but the results aren't anything spectacular so far. Of course it takes time.

    There's also visualizing but that just really seems like a crock to me. Just because you imagine something doesn't make it come true. But maybe I'm just being too skeptical.

    So I'm wondering if any of you have any tips for or experiences with switching from thinking predominately negatively to positively. Whether it be positive affirmations, visualizing, or just something else.
     
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  2. Viscid

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    hey yumi how's it goin'

    That "I like myself" thing seems pretty dumb. In fact, I think it's counter-productive: if you like yourself, then you don't have a lot of motivation to go ahead and change your personality. Negativity, when not held in excess, is a useful tool for improvement. Rather than trying to convince yourself of something which may not be true, why not work on the specific things which you don't like about yourself? If they can't be changed, then accept those as your flaws and work on accepting them.
     
  3. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    Visualization is very effective. It only requires a goal and the will to do it. All visualization is is to keep the positive end result of your goal in mind. Just imagine the product of effectively achieving your goal and keep it in mind. I've never ran into a more effective technique for staying on task, keeping motivated, and having high self efficacy.


    Keeping an internal locus of control is vital too. Reminding yourself that it is only you who can change your perceptions...it is you who shapes your reality. Damn the blue pill mentality others are stuck in...let them follow their social constructs and made up rules, you define how life is going to go for you and that's that.

    To help with this I would suggest:
    1. When you have a choice to make, or something needs to be done, step back and take notice of it. Remind yourself at that moment that you have a choice to make: you have control!
    2. If you feel negative or helpless, stop yourself for a moment and go over all the possible choices you have in your mind. I'd recommend even writing them down. Don't evaluate the choices yet (so even if they seem stupid at first, just put them down), just generate them. The best way to do this is to do a list of 100 items: after a while the obvious choices are all taken up, and your subconscious tends to take over in generating ideas. If you don't have time for a list of 100, don't worry about it, just work with the time you have.
    3. After you have a list, evaluate your choices: which is the best choice?


    The key to this is be aware of what you're doing: to stop yourself when you feel helpless or negative and deliberately follow the process.


    I'd also recommend changing the way you talk to yourself, and the way you talk about yourself to others. The best self growth happens when we are willing to let go of our self-image and just do what is best for ourselves. This means that we have to release the habit of defining ourselves (people that are aware of their MBTI can have a particularly hard time with this). Saying "I can't do that because x" or "That's just not what I do because I'm INFJ" or whatever needs to be dropped. "I don't want to try that new food because I'm a picky eater" needs to be replaced with "Let me try it and then make a judgment." Try new things without being judgmental or dismissive.

    Here is an about.com article that may have something interesting to you:
    http://stress.about.com/od/optimismspirituality/a/positiveselftak.htm
     
  4. rainrise

    rainrise Community Member

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    "positive" has varying degrees, some which are contentment, enthusiasm, and acceptance whether in yourself or an external object. i've found that being positive does not always mean being happy in the general sense since you can be calm yet also positive as well as derive positive feelings through faith, which is not really emotional but intellectual.

    something that has really worked for me in hindering negative thought patterns is to simply observe them and your own reactions to them when they arise. if you start questioning the negativity of its truth value without force, but rather out of curiosity, you'll soon find most of it isn't true. yet, when you do believe that the negativity rings true though, do not wallow in it, but rather accept the way you feel. most times, we are very hard on ourselves and do not forgive ourselves for our own faults. by accepting that there is negativity and their attached emotions, it is the step toward taking action and doing something about it.

    something else i've noticed is that ironically, i hold onto negativity knowing it to be negative as it seems to offer an excuse for defining the way i am, almost like a comforting reserve that has formed out of a fear of change. it may also be a way to short-circuit a more far-ranging problem involving factors we dont' want to tamper with due to our attachment to our story we've made ourselves believe. this story is likened to a bad relationship as it provides a false sense of security, being itself the very thing that does so much damage. ask yourself whether this story is truthful or if it is just an attempt to arouse commotion through bombast. if you do find yourself with pain that is very true, just remember that you can acknowledge it as so, but you have the power to define your relationship with that pain. pain can exist, but you don't need to suffer from that pain again. oftentimes negativity can be transformed into something truly positive (e.g. having suffered personally and in having done so, preventing the same pain from happening to others).
     
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  5. Viscid

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    Oooo well said, I feel the same way. I use pain and negativity to get passionate and motivated about things I'd like to change. As long as it's an honest pain, and not something that doesn't deserve to get all angsty about.
     
  6. Puck

    Puck Perilous Pixie
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    Recommended reading:

    Martin Seligman - Learned Optimism

    Norman Vincent Peale - The Power of Positive Thinking

    Richard Carlson - Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

    David Burns - Feeling Good


    Plus anything to do with affirmations. Louise Hay has some good card decks that can be inspiring, as well as her book 'You can heal your life'.
    This site is a pretty good starting point for affirmations too: http://bmindful.com/

    :)
     
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  7. Wyote

    Wyote Dad of the Ded
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    Visualization is very powerful. You are right, just because you imagine it, doesn't make it so, but that is missing the point and writing it off as useless is just silly. It does indeed have a strong tendancy to change your behavior. Your actions reflect your thoughts, and visualizing is a strong thought process which utilizes a multitude of senses which in turn has a strong impact on your behavior.

    Also everything Duty said and the book The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale recommended by Helpful Elf.
     
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    #7 Wyote, May 20, 2009
    Last edited: May 20, 2009
  8. WickedPod

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    I've tried visualization and I've tried the affirmations. Neither worked, nor did they last very long. I felt like Stewart Smalley from SNL with those affirmations.

    I used to be the biggest kill-joy, pessimistic cynic this side of the world. I was a drag to be around, but didn't realize it. What I did was I focused so much on the bad things in life, that I never could see the goodness and beauty that this world has to offer. I don't think it just happened for me overnight, or else I'd probably be able to throw out a date that it happened. When I start to say or think something bad or I'm feeling myself getting lower and lower, I'll stop myself and try to find something good in what I'm thinking about. It helps me with personal interactions, too. Instead of seeing someone that is materialistic, bull-headed, rude, whatever I'll try to think of something about them that I like or find endearing.

    I'll give you an example of something I had to do the last time I felt myself slipping away and falling into that dark pit we call depression. My husband was working for some "friends" (I use that term loosely, as they used us for their own personal gain) where we had to use the only money we had to send him to do the work, so that he could *make* money. Well, they decided to leave him over 700 miles from home, not fund his gas money to get back home which was what was agreed upon they'd do. Etc, etc. So, we're stuck with no income on his end and not much on my end. We literally had no money in the bank, but had to pay our rent and utilities and needed gas in the car to get myself to work to make what little I made. I was curled up in the floor, terrified we'd be kicked out on our butts and be in a world of debt. I knew I was slipping (and we sure as shit didn't have enough $ to send me to the shrink or commit me), so I tried to find something positive to focus on. I focused on our strong marriage, our committment to each other, our great families that would most likely help us (as much as we hated to ask), and our good health. I thought, "there are people out ther having to watch their children die slow deaths. People that are broke and unable to pay for a decent funeral for a loved one." etc. That helped me appreciate what I DID have. I had so much that other's didn't.

    It works 99% of the time.
     
  9. Heliwyr

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    Definitely. It is an important part of establishing confidence in yourself. I've found that if I just forget about all the possible things that go wrong, and imagine everything going right, and I keep that image at the forefront of my mind, I am much more able to fulfill that vision simply because I am expecting certain things in my own behaviour to happen. However, this only works if you apply this visualisation to yourself. Imagine yourself acting positive, calm, cool, collected, and you will (to some degree) regardless of what things outside of yourself go wrong.

    Visualisation is also a powerful tool when it comes to learning. If you imagine yourself doing the activity before you do it, you will learn much more quickly than if you don't. This is because you are trying out the activity in your head and effectively creating a virtual reality in which you are actually doing the activity as if it were real. Your brain uses a lot of this kind of information to record muscle movements and practice them without moving your muscles. This makes learning much faster as you are part of the way to understanding exactly what you need to do.
     
  10. slant

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    I think there is a balance between thinking positive and negative. If you think realistically, then there are going to be a lot of times where you feel negative and down, and I'd say that is completely normal. It's when you don't feel happy when something happy happens where positive thinking kicks in. I've seen a lot of people who take the positive thinking thing way too seriously, and oh too far...
     
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  11. Duty

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    Well, there is a difference here. Thinking realistically is good, but thinking positively is all about empowering yourself. You don't go off and believe you can jump a skyscraper, but you don't drag yourself into a pattern of thinking you are limited and fated to doom. You don't limit yourself when it's not necessary. Of course you're limited to not being able to break laws of physics, or to raping children, but you don't limit, say, your taste in music just because you define yourself as a "country person." Self definition is one of the most harmful things you can do.

    Some people do take it too far. If your spouse dies, it's unhealthy to bottle it up and just be positive. No, you have to let yourself feel the pain and express it in a healthy fashion. You have to always work toward being healthy/positive, but being happy and cheerful all the time just isn't realistic.
     
  12. OP
    Eniko

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    I think a few people are confusing thinking positively with some form of self denial where you don't allow yourself to experience negative emotions. It's not about that, it's more about not assuming the worst in everything. For instance you're meeting someone new it's "they'll love me!" instead of "they'll hate me!".

    I've gone through life in a defensive stance and assuming that everyone I meet will have a problem with who and what I am. For a time that was true, and that assumption was almost helpful, but now it's no longer. So I need to go from "I'm sure they'll have a problem with me" to "I'm a great girl and I'm sure they'll recognize that".
     
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  13. slant

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    It sounds like to me a lot of you think a lot. I don't really ever feel in a state where I feel doomed, or empowered. I just feel in state. If something sad happens I feel sad. If something happy happens I feel happy. It's just about regulating emotions to the proper time.

    For example, do not laugh when someone tellls you that their dog has died.
    It seems simple, but it's a lot harder than it looks.
     
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  14. OP
    Eniko

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    "You think a lot" is basically INFJs in a nutshell if you ask me.
     
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  15. Tamagochi

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    like someone begun the trend on this forum - define positive :D

    For me being positive is a combination of feeling good and serene inside, being authentic in my expression and having high expectations of the future. Thus positivity can be achieved by giving attention to any of these areas. For example if I'm feeling down, I can meditate, talk to somebody about myself or take up my favorite activity. Finally visualizations are also helpful (but it covers only the last part - expectations of the future).

    Sometimes I see people becoming misguided by visualizations though. You have to concentrate on a feeling coming from it, but not the result. I was actively involved in financial forums during the wake of current economic crisis and I've witnessed a lot of people behaving in the following manner: "I must stay positive, therefore I am not selling the stocks even if they are falling into abyss". Being blind to the truth is called stupid, not optimistic :)
     
  16. MikeP07646

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    Not always easy, but it really hinges on self-talk in my opinion. We all have a little voice and have to bitch-slap it once and a while.

    That and some positive reframing/visualization really can help, but you have to be realistic also and know that life will sometimes just be a pit of despair.
     
  17. IndigoSensor

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    This might sound odd, but I end up tricking myself into thinking that if I don't do something positive, something bad will happen. It is a bit diffucalt to describe. For example, say there is an event coming up that I am looking forward to, but there is alot of uncertianty surrounding it. I will slightly alter my behaivor so I will stay positive to a degree. Usually in situations surrounding uncertianty, I will not want do anything, and will feel depressed. So if there is something I need to do, I will convince myself "If I don't do this action, this event in the future will not happen". It seems to keep me moving forward.

    I don't know if that really counts as thinking positive, but it is a tool I use and it helps me stay positive to a degree.

    Another tool that I use that other people have mentioned is visualizing the future to how I want it to be. I will sometimes go back and forth with thinking it is a good thing to do, and thinking it is bad cause it will get my expectations and hopes up. But going back to the first thing I mentioned, by doing this I am sort of "creating" the events in the future.
     
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  18. Tamagochi

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    I think this tool has a name - it's called "a kick in your arse" :D
     
  19. IndigoSensor

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    Not quite. I light a fire under my ass in different situations.
     
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  20. Azure_Knight

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    Even when things are going pretty rough, it does pay to try to be optimistic and to work towards the best. Even if it doesn't happen, you will find that you are happier when you try to put positive thoughts or emotions in than negative. Others may notice that you are positive, and will want to be around you more for it.
     
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