How much does positive thinking affect your health? A lot!!
Your mind and body have natural healing abilities. Your thoughts, your feelings, and the way you use your mind, if properly focused, can be a powerful ally in the healing process. Similarly, when misused, the mind can hinder healing or actually cause poor health.
Unfortunately, many people unconsciously use their minds in ways that negatively affect their health. For example, focusing on worry, fear, anger, resentment, or other negative emotions contributes to all sorts of needless suffering.
The Impact of Negative Thinking
Whether you realize it or not, about 80% of your thoughts are negative. Do any of these phrases ring a bell?
- I’m too fat/too skinny/too short/too tall/too angry/too passive/too….
- I didn’t do that right/I blew it/I failed/He blew it/….
- I hope no one saw that/I’m so embarrassed/If anyone knew that about me I’d die…
- Who does she think she is/He is so bossy/She is clueless/He is so dumb…
- I should have called him/He should have called me/She should have returned my call…
- I don’t have enough time/I’m too busy/I’m so stressed…
- It’s too cold out/It’s too windy/I wish it weren’t snowing/Why does it have to rain today…
These negative thoughts have a powerful influence on the way you act and feel.
The Healing Power of Positive Thinking
The mind’s healing powers are a mystery to most people. We are not taught how to channel the mind’s energy towards healing and health.
Here’s the good news: there are powerful, practical strategies that anyone can learn to alleviate pain, and suffering. Whether your challenges are physical, emotional, or spiritual you can learn to use your mind for health and happiness.
There have been thousands of scientific studies demonstrating attitudinal, emotional, and cognitive effects on physiology, health, and healing. Despite this, most people don’t grasp how to use this to their benefit.
For instance, we know that a positive attitude is health-promoting. It sounds simple enough. It is simple, but not necessarily easy for most people to incorporate a positive mindset. In fact, many people actively resist making this change for fear of being perceived as naive or a Pollyanna.
How to Harness the Power of Positive Thinking
Here is a simple exercise that you might want to focus on for the next week.
In this exercise, you are not trying to change your negative thinking. Instead, notice when you are making negative predictions. Just notice. Notice how you feel physically, emotionally, spiritually. Observe without judgment how you treat others and treat yourself. See if you can be compassionately curious about yourself.
You might think “I don’t want to go to this meeting. I know it is going to be really boring.”
Notice how you are casting human attributes onto a meeting. A meeting is just a meeting. Whether you are bored or not is your choice. You have primed yourself to be bored. You have externalized the reason for your expected boredom onto the meeting. Notice, are you tense, angry, frustrated, feeling trapped, defensive, tired, tuned out, or assigning negative attributes to people or ideas?
Let’s say you are meeting your friend John for coffee. Before you even leave the house you might be thinking “I know John will be late. He’s always late. He’s so inconsiderate.”
Notice how easy it is to be filled with anger, resentment, and judgments about something that hasn’t happened, let alone the negative feelings you are projecting onto your friend. Perhaps you tense your jaw and shoulders, as you recall other times when John was late. When John arrives you put on a game face and are jovial when inside you are burning.
Once you’ve practiced noticing your negative thoughts for a week, you can start changing them. Here’s how to do this:
But you don’t have to be controlled by them. Here are a few examples of how you can actively take charge of your thought processes.
- Don’t believe everything you think. In fact, I would encourage you to not believe most of what you think!!
- See these negative thoughts as junk mail. No need to open them, just toss them in the trash. Don’t worry there are plenty more where they came from.
- Recognize that you are thinking negatively, and challenge yourself to change the negative thought into a positive thought. For example- turn “She should have called me” into “She’ll call me when she gets around to it, or if it’s so important, I’ll call her.”
Once you’re able to recognize and change negative thoughts into positive ones, you may start to feel much better, physically and emotionally!