Remember what we said previously: The more we use a particular neural pathway we more acceptable it becomes. (Remember the ‘Walk in the Wood’ – Reading 5?) The more we learn to think and respond in a particular way, the more automatic it becomes. That was the theory; now we want to putr it into practice.
When we speak into our thinking our anticipation of success or failure, we are in fact more firmly establishing that particular neural pathway. If our thinking produces a negative lifestyle, it means we need to think about changing the pathways. We do this by speaking positively.
THINKING Positively Exercise
First of all, therefore, we want to encourage you to do the following exercise, over a period of a week. At the end of each day, record five positive things about the day. Yes, you will find five things that were positive about the day – every day! That will be enough for this reading, but it is very important that you do the exercise.
A. Speaking Negative Words
What we speak says volumes about how we think.
i) Negative Thinking
- We’ve considered previously how negative thinking produces negative words.
- “I’m no use,” “I’m useless at whatever I put my hand to,” or “nobody will ever love me.”
- See, in each case the words reflect the inner belief.
ii) Extreme Speech
- Again we’ve thought about this before. Extreme words are rarely true.
- e.g.1 “I always look terrible in smart clothes. I’ll never be able to look good. It’s a total waste of time!”
- e.g.2 “I’m a total failure when it comes to exams. I completely muck up because I can never remember things”
- What we do is over generalise and make one failure into how it always is
- e.g.3 “I did badly at the interview. I always do badly at interviews.”
iii) Blaming not looking for solutions
- Sometimes our words blame when we’d do better to use them to open up possibilities of a solution being found
- e.g. “It’s all his fault. From the word go he was a waste of time. He can’t do a thing right”
- i.e. when you are into blaming and not looking for solutions you are compounding failure!
B. Speaking Positive Words
Let’s take each of the above and moderate them
i) Positive Thinking
- The other side of the coin has got to be that positive thinking speaks positive words.
- This is actually harder to do, for all the reasons we’ve thought about previously.
- Yet when we go into the day we can determine to watch what we say and determine not to say anything negative.
ii) Restrained Language
- So how can we use different language that doesn’t shut us down?
- e.g.1 “I don’t always feel good in smart clothes. I’ll need to work at looking good but it will be worth it in the long run”
- e.g.2 “I’m quite fearful when it comes to exams. I sometimes muck up and so I’ll need to work at memory skills.”
- These both recognise the problem by look to strategies to bring changes.
iii) Looking for Solutions
- This doesn’t mean you deny the truth but you look for ways to succeed and bring change
- e.g. “It’s often his fault and he makes out he can’t do a thing right, but I know that’s not right and I need to work on encouraging him and helping him succeed.”
These are just a few simple demonstrations of how beliefs and speech are sometimes so closely linked. They show us how negative language simply reinforces the present and expects no change. Positive thinking and speaking open doors for change to come about.
Goal-setting has become a big thing in business or industry, and has often got a bad name for either being unreal or for causing stress. Neurologists affirm that setting goals stimulates your RAS (remember again, back when we thought about the ‘Walk in the Woods’?) and helps create new ways of thinking. (We’ve already been working on creating positive pathways in the way we think and then speak) Now if we are in negative mode, immediately we are thinking, “This won’t work!” A key to helping it work: set bite-size, manageable goals. Consider the following strategy based on what we said about speaking:
Aim: To Never Speak Negatively
Problems: I’ve always spoken negatively, I’d have a job not speaking negatively for a day!
Solution: Set a goal of not speaking negatively for 1 hour.
When you’ve achieved that a few times, increase the goal to a whole morning, then a whole day.
The key was starting with something you hadn’t thought of doing before, but keeping it in small, possible targets.
Persistence, a determination to start again and keep going (why should you fail when you are going for small bites?).
Our RAS, our neural filter system allows information or hinders information. We can get it to allow in a particular way of thinking (positive thinking) by going over those same paths again and again. After a while it becomes easier to walk (think and act) positively than negatively.We can reinforce those paths by speaking out positively again and again or by setting ourselves specific, positive, obtainable goals (initially in small bites)
The Exercise for the Week
Think about the week ahead. Identify things you are not very comfortable in facing – that could be people or circumstances. Don’t work on more than three!
When you are on your own and no one else is around (if you have to drive anywhere on your own, that’s a good opportunity, think about that person, or people, or circumstances and speak TWO positive things about them.
If it’s people, imagine them being nice to you, imagine you being in control of yourself. If it’s work to be achieved, or a set of circumstances to cope with, imagine yourself getting the work done or coping well with them. Watch for positive thoughts and ideas to flow and don’t write them off – it may be the ‘means’ to achieving!