This is a follow-up to my article, “Stay positive by accepting your negative thoughts.”
Here, my premise is that positivity is a desirable attribute and has to be nurtured. In other words, you cannot cultivate positivity by merely reading positive words or phrases.
In the latter case, you do feel good after reading a positively worded social media post. However, the joyous feeling lasts momentarily as your attention flits to the next post on social media, which may have a sad theme, such as job losses during the pandemic.
When you feel down, it is challenging to stay positive even in “positive” circumstances. For example, scanning through social media and seeing your friends having a great time increases your feelings of loneliness instead of feeling better.
Again, you may find that at times you feel sad for no apparent reason, even when you laugh with your friends or watch a comedy show on Netflix. You can’t shake off this painful feeling or stop brooding about it.
How to become more positive in your daily life?
You can practice being more positive by controlling your response to your negative thoughts. For example, when you feel down, your view of the world and your future is adversely affected. You have dark and gloomy thoughts filled with self-doubts that make you feel guilty about not doing your best when asked to complete an assignment,
If you give these thoughts, your negative feelings will increase and soon take over your life.
In this case, to feel better, you start avoiding people or hesitate in giving your viewpoint as you think people will laugh at you or ignore you. Or you try to suppress your feelings of not being good enough by seeking solace in foods that make you feel good.
Though these measures provide immediate gratification, they are self-defeating; you prefer to stay at home after work instead of going for a run with your friends.
To understand why you have these thoughts, you need to be an observer; this means you look at how your body reacts to stress dispassionately, without judgement, by accepting your failures.
By staying objective, you can assess any recent changes in your appetite, sleep, or energy levels. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by your negative thoughts, you can record the time and frequency of their occurrence. Next step, you can now plan for these down moments, like talking to a friend or taking a walk.
Once you can accept your stress response with calmness, you can start working on creating positive feelings. Feelings, thinking, and behaviours are all interrelated, as per cognitive behaviour therapy.
Towards this end, to quieten your stress response, start breathing through your navel and upwards to your chest. By doing so, your attention gets diverted to your breath, reducing the experience of negative emotions of anger and frustration.
With deep breathing, you feel calmer and relaxed. This feeling of calmness and quietness reduces the nervous chatter in your head. Your overall confidence in your abilities is boosted as now you can think better, view your problems objectively sans self-criticism.
Similarly, you can show your children how to monitor their feelings by showing them cartoon characters, asking them to name the different expressions. Once your kids have a vocabulary for their emotions, they can label their feelings, respond to them, and express them appropriately.
You can build on this by practising meditation as a family. You can hold a short competition of who can stay still the longest during your children’s playtime. Then you can ask your children to describe the sensations they felt in their body and express their feelings.
Learning to identify and label feelings gives you and your family the freedom to engage with activities more meaningfully, creating an aura of positivity.
This article was published in the Telegraph Journal.
The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting;
anjula siddhartha mind matters Facebook page
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for consultations with a qualified professional.