In the last post in this series you learned about the power of destructive thinking and how it can limit your ability to manage stress. Destructive thinking is negative thinking. It limits our ability to make positive choices in our lives. Fortunately, help is on the way! Now, you will learn the power of constructive thinking. Constructive thinking is positive thinking. With positive thinking you can weaken the power of negative thinking in your life.
Here are some proven ways to help you develop positive thinking:
- Begin with the end in mind
- All things created twice
- Positive affirmations
Visualization is creating a picture of things that you want to achieve in your mind. We’ve all heard the expression “seeing is believing.” Well, visualization is just that. It allows you to see what you want to achieve so that you start believing you can achieve it. When you can visualize or picture a situation, you can be more creative in finding new ways to solve problems. Visualization will help you to learn stress management by removing the negative thinking that prevents you from successfully managing your stress.
Visualization can transform thoughts into reality. Pictures begin to form in your mind’s eye of the results of your thoughts. This helps you reach your goal. Visualize the positive results of your efforts to reach the goal of stress management. By seeing these positive effects in your mind, you can see the happiness that will come from reaching your goals.
Begin With the End in Mind
Steven Covey, in his famous work The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, explains that you need to begin with the end in mind. This means to start with a clear understanding of where you want to go—your destination. He says it is easy to get caught up in the ladder of success. The activities that make your life busy do not necessarily lead you to where you really want to go. He says people work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success, only to discover the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.
All Things Created Twice
The practice of beginning with the end in mind is based on the principle that all things are created twice. First, there is a mental creation and then a physical creation. For example, take the building of a new home. Before any work can be done, the home must be created on paper. This paper drawing, or blueprint that the builders will use to build the home is the mental creation. The blueprints are the step-by-step plans for building the home. The home that is built as a result of the blueprint, or mental creation, is the physical creation.
Another example is planning to go on a trip. The first thing you do is plan out the route you will take to get to your desired destination. By careful planning, you increase your chances of a successful trip—getting to your destination.
One of the simplest and most effective techniques for constructive thinking is the use of positive affirmations. You can think of positive affirmations or statements as the voice of the good coach giving you confidence in your abilities and strength under pressure.
Put your desired patterns of behavior into the form of affirmations about yourself, then write them on a piece of paper. Use the first person (“I”) when writing them. Examples are: “I calmly deal with my anger.” “I make sound decisions.” “I control my emotions.” Keep your affirmations short, positive and simple, and be sure to put them in present tense—“I do” statements rather than “I will.”
These affirmations will slowly become your new patterns of behavior. You may feel uncomfortable with them at first, but stick with it. If you read them over every day for about three weeks, you will learn what is being said, just as in the past you learned the negativity from your inner critic. These positive patterns will become part of you. If you practice these rules, your negative inner thoughts about yourself will become quieter and your positive inner thoughts about yourself will become louder.
These affirmations will support and strengthen the changes you are making in your behavior. You might think of this process as a couch, calmly but firmly showing your inner critic way up to the cheap seats—where it will rarely be heard!
Thanks for tuning into our post in this series on Anxiety Management and the importance of Stress Management. If you’d like to learn more about the importance of stress management and how The Anxiety Management Program works, download our PDF brochure here.