The power of positivity
This past weekend I ran a marathon. For those of you who aren't sure, yes, that's a 26.2-mile run. It's safe to assume that at some point (or several points) during the race thoughts of self-doubt and realization of my discomfort crept into my head.
Those thoughts could've become overwhelming and might have caused me to give up. In my preparation for the race I practiced being in charge of my thoughts. Rather than just telling myself to stop having negative thoughts, I asked myself how those thoughts made me feel and if they were helpful or harmful.
I'll share with you two positive phrases I developed and used regularly during the race: "I chose to be here today" and "I am so blessed to be able to do this." These two phrases carried me through the entire race-even at mile 23 when I wanted so badly to be done-and across the finish line with a much better experience than the first time I ran a marathon.
I share this story with you because I have found that just as much as I talk with my patients about nutrition, movement and healthy coping, I also coach them through changing negative thoughts and self-talk to positive thoughts and self-talk. There is an abundance of research showing that the outlook you choose to have has a direct impact on your happiness, stress level and ability to cope with whatever life throws at you. In other words, you are absolutely in charge of your thoughts.
Negative talk feels bad. But rather than telling yourself to stop having negative thoughts, approach it in a compassionate and non-judgmental way and ask yourself how it makes you feel to talk like that and why do you feel the need to degrade yourself in that way? This applies to your appearance, your abilities, and your educational and economical background as well as how you view others.
Self-defeating or negative words:
- I can't
- I'm not good enough
- I'll fail
- I'm useless
- It's impossible
Positive words that evoke confidence:
- I can
- I will
- I do
- I know
- I choose
- I am
Certain thoughts are helpful and certain thoughts are harmful. Harmful thoughts can keep you stuck and undermine your confidence and ability to function in the world. Helpful thoughts can help you flourish and propel you forward. Just like helpful thoughts propelled me forward to finishing a marathon. You have the choice of whether you are going to give voice to the harmful thought patterns or try to change them. You are in charge of your thoughts.