In my yoga class, a member told other members that they would try to come for the early morning class. This statement was greeted with silence as everyone, including the member, started laughing at their comment’s “absurdity.” This individual had missed attending even the late morning yoga classes because of the cold weather and had a habit of arriving late to their class.

Suppose the class had given a more positive response by appreciating the member’s positivity. This member may have then thought of how this action will benefit their overall functioning? The member had several health-related problems. This individual could have taken another positive step by documenting how they get positive thoughts about attending the early yoga class. The next step can be looking at their morning itinerary. 

How often do we share your positive attitude about ourselves with others? Even if we do, we are usually not taken seriously, as we might have mentioned the same at various times. It can have a rebound effect on the individual, as they may dismiss any proactive thoughts. Even if the person did spend a few seconds to reflect on a positive thought of finding the time to do some running after office hours, they might not be motivated to have an action plan. So, the onus may lie on us to see if we can make a start. 

The problem lies in making the “right” start. We all have the mental image of doing it right the first time. But from our prior attempts to achieve our goal, we even fail to acknowledge any positive thought we may have. The reason lies in our diminished self-efficacy or belief in our ability to accomplish a specific goal, as per psychologist Albert Bandura. 

We all have made innumerable attempts at having a healthy diet. But, despite our best intentions, we fail to make the desired changes. We give up. But, in reality, we do not lose hope as we “try” to eat healthy whenever we can. What is missing is “our hundred percent” dedication.

We tend to view our failures as final. This belief displays an “All or nothing” cognitive distortion or logical error. Instead of looking at the situational evidence of having a family emergency, which made it difficult to follow a new routine, we blame ourselves. Blaming ourselves for any failure due to circumstances beyond our control is the cognitive distortion of personalization.

It looks like the solution lies in finding ways to keep a positive attitude until the goal is reached. Moreover, documenting any efforts towards the goal will help in preventing the all or nothing thinking pattern. 

So, aberrations like having minor physical ailments can be attended to calmly, without the accompanying guilt. Monitoring your breathing and keeping it at an even pace helps in staying calm. It will sharpen your concentration on the task at hand by minimizing any negative thinking. 

The ray of sunshine is within each one of us. Sometimes it is a spontaneous dialogue. At other times, you may have to search for it in our multitude of thoughts. Meditation calms the sea of thoughts, and makes it easier to find the positive idea which will motivate you to enhance your functioning.  

By taking a few minutes each morning upon waking up, you can think of a positive step you can take for that day to feel better. This may be as simple as making a resolve to have a better posture. One positive thought may not lead to success immediately but can provide a guiding light. 

This article was published in the Telegraph Journal.

picture is courtesy Unsplash, many thanks to photographer Diego @ gonzagaphotography.