By Anita Manley
Many years ago, I was in a training session with my colleagues at work and I was getting really frustrated as I thought I wasn’t picking up what was being taught as quickly as I thought I should. I was expressing some of my frustrations out loud and the trainer noted, “Wow, that’s a lot of negative self-talk going on in your head”. I had never thought about it before, but her statement really gave me pause. From that point on I tried really hard to change my negative thoughts to positive ones.
I have heard that negative thoughts and feelings travel through the brain more quickly than positive ones. So, it takes a lot of effort to change your thinking to positive ones.
My natural inner dialogue at the time was “I will never pick this up”, “This is too hard”, “I am not smart enough”. Little did I know that all this negative self-talk was causing more stress in my life. Something I really did not need as stress is a big trigger to my mental illness.
Soon, I started changing my thoughts to positive ones, beginning with my inner dialogue, or positive self-talk. I would say to myself, “today is going to be a good day”, “With lots of practice I will become great at this”, “I’ll give it another try” or “I’ll try to make it work”.
According to The Mayo Clinic, the health benefits of positive thinking are many:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
It is unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.
So, work hard at changing those negative thoughts to positive ones. Talk to yourself as though you were your own best friend. Praise yourself, give compliments, be kind to yourself. Your body and mind will benefit from it.