I am running a bit of an experiment with myself this week; I call it “Positively Pretending”.
The thing is, I have been stuck in a little bit of a rut these past few months, unable to move forward with new ideas or breathe life into old ones.
To be honest, this inability to move has become extremely frustrating. I feel so full of potential and energy; I just can’t seem to channel it constructively. It’s almost as if I’m being constantly pulled out to sea by a riptide, despite desperately trying to swim to shore, back and forth I go, barely moving, just tiring myself out with the effort, yet staying in the same place.
I want to move forward. I want to develop a life filled with people and places; I want to create something which nobody else ever has. This desire to create things has always been a part of my psyche, I’ve come to realise that fulfilling this need is a really effective route to my own personal happiness.
It’s easy to blame your problems on the external world, on the conditions you cannot control, however increasingly I am becoming convinced that you create your own success. Your mind-set and attitude are the keys to this.
You are what you think.
For a while, I definitely have been suffering from a negative mind-set. I’m not sure how long this has been the case, however I can say with some certainty that it has been this way for the past few months.
Instead of approaching problems with a “I can do this attitude”, I have constantly been putting myself down – “you don’t know how to do this”, “you can’t do it”, “people will think you’re stupid”.
To be honest with you, the thoughts above have been the main reasons for not posting here over the past few weeks.. Because I worry I’m an awful writer, or people won’t engage with my content, or that my life is completely devoid of all interest and nobody wants to hear about it.
Now all of the above may be true, but I don’t know, because I haven’t even tried to test it, despite having a million ideas about interesting things I want to share with the world!
Negative thoughts are limiting by nature, they create barriers to action and turn small issues into Mount Everest.
We all have probably been through a catastrophe cycle, where a niggling thought starts off small, then grows larger and larger until basically you’re foretelling the apocalypse. That’s the other issue with negative thinking; it snowballs and feeds upon itself.
It’s also cyclical by nature; your negative thinking limits your actions, which in turn usually creates the kind of scenario your negative thoughts were predicting. So for example, there’s a party you have been invited to and you think “what if I go and nobody likes me”, this thought leads you to staying at home, which in turn doesn’t allow you to test your assumption. This could then lead you to thinking “nobody likes me when I go out” (well you never gave them the chance to meet you!)
After a while, it also becomes second nature. You almost programme your brain to focus on the negative in any situation; in fact some research suggests that we are naturally disposed to see the negative anyway. (There’s a great TED talk about this.)
So how do you break out of a self-limiting negative cycle of thinking? That’s what I’m hoping my experiment will show!
I suspect that if I were to tell myself to just “become” a positive thinker overnight, I would probably fail miserably. This is because, as I have noted above, you get stuck in negative ruts which self-enforce and are extremely hard to break out of.
I almost feel like negative thinking almost acts like a drug, it’s addictive in many ways! Therefore going cold turkey on the whole thing might not be such a great idea.
So I have come up with a sneaky hack.
I’m going to ask myself to “pretend” to become a positive person. The kind of person who says yes, the person who looks for the good things that could happen in any given situation, the kind of person who appreciates their good qualities and isn’t afraid of embracing them.
I’m hoping that by almost borrowing a better mind-set, I can retrain my brain and break free from the cycle that’s currently holding me back.
The experiment formally starts today and just involves a little bit of mindful thinking. My aim is to monitor my thoughts for negativity and really ask myself, “is that a rational reaction” (because sometimes negative thoughts are present for a good reason, my aim here i s to identity irrational and destructive thought patterns.)
If I decide the thought is irrational, my next step is to ask myself – “what would a positive person think in this situation?”
I’ll admit, it’s a pretty crude method; however I am convinced that your mind-set is a key factor in your happiness and also in success, so I’m going to give it a go.
I’m hoping I will be able to report back in a week or two with my findings! I want to keep some kind of diary chronicling where I identify destructive thinking and whether this empowers me to actually start moving forwards again.
If anyone has any advice on the subject, or has experienced a similar thing, I would love to hear from you! Please do drop me a comment below.
Right, I’d better get started on thinking good things and dreaming big!
Until next time,
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Check it out below!