Yes we all know that being happy is better for your health but it's not so easy when you're faced with the challenges of daily life. Does being overly optimistic mask a deep down frustration with the world and are 'negative' people just all being realistic? The 'lets all be happy' debate rages on in the media and I have to say, just like many of my clients, I can get frustrated with the demands of being positive.
Humans are a survival mammal, our brains are wired to keep us safe above all else, so naturally we'll tend to look for challenges/issues so we can avoid them....
My question is........does our natural human nature help or hinder us with our modern day challenges?
Personally I feel planning and looking at what might happen is an important part of feeling prepared but I do think it becomes a problem when this strength is overplayed and becomes a way of life, leading to overwhelming pressures, stress and anxiety. I think for most people optimism is something which requires practise.......
Research and science have showed us time and time again that optimism and a sunny disposition can actually help us avoid diseses, just like this american study in women, personally I've been practising optimism and gratitude since 2011 and yet whilst I'm finding it easier and easier it's still something I have to keep practising. Sometimes life is rubbish and science has proven that ignoring our negative emotions cause ill health and chronic pain too.
So in summary
If you're overly positive, you might not be addressing the underlying negative emotions...which can lead to ill health
If you're overly negative, you're not feeling the benefits from optimism.......which can also lead to ill health.
Haha, I love it when you can't do right for doing wrong........So what are you supposed to do?
Balance, for me the answer is balance. Find/learn appropriate ways to express those negative emotions then move on quickly and ensure your general outlook is one of positivity and optimism. For me that's the answer and I, in no way, underestimate how hard that can be to do.
My top tip to make it easier.....
The people/teams who I support suffer with the effects of change and trying new things, experiencing symptoms of stress, overwhelm and anxiety for example. I mostly find their general outlook is one of negativity, frustration and upset which then feeds their symptoms. The first step is to seek to understand.
Look at the whole situation and find out what's going on.
Nobody, including you, ever does something because its stupid, we are very clever human beings so there's a reason why you/they feel fearful, threatened or uncertain. By understanding that we often discover some ideas and realisations which will help move you forwards.
Mostly people are talked at and told what they'll do because people assume a hell of a lot. It's refreshing when somebody actually listens and seeks to understand, then takes your world into consideration before delivering their perspective.
And if you're working on something personal for you....
Take some time to sit quietly, after a little while ask yourself, what's going on with 'whatever issue' and wait for some inspiration. This may sound a little woohoo but it works. Your unconscious is 30,000 times more powerful than your conscious. It has so much information you're not even aware of....you just need to give it an opportunity and listen.
My final point for today is about pressure..........
It never feel's good when you feel you should do something. I absolutely hate how the media makes you feel you're not good enough or how you're doing something wrong by portraying one side of a debate. Yes optimism is good for your health but so is expressing your emotions. If you feel the negative side effects of either it means you're overplaying that side, stop it and find a balance, take time to deal with your emotions and top up your sunny disposition, you'll feel a whole lot better.
Until next time
When is it most beneficial for someone to seek help rather than having to deal with their issues by themselves?
So many people stuggle along in silence, reaching out for every self-help solution they can find. Some people find their answers in self-help solutions whilst others still struggle along afraid to ask for help. So how do you know when to tackle an issue yourself and when to seek help? I have a little analogy for you today which will make that decision a little easier.......
When do you know you need to call a plumber?
It's usually when you have a leak and you can't or don't have the expertise to fix it. You could go for a DIY solution, get the parts you need and read up about what you need to do. For some this fixes the issue and if you do all the steps right it works out fine. Or you might just decide it's beyond your capability and you're better to just let the expert do it. I guess it depends on the size of the leak and what your experience of dealing with leaks is......
In my opinion the same principle applies to your mind. There are loads of self-help books out there, and many people overcome, 'fix' and deal with things perfectly well themselves. Others decide for many reasons to get an expert in.
Expert vs Self-Help solutions
I often describe myself as having a massive treasure trove of tried and tested tools and techniques. I've learnt over the years what works and what doesn't so I can probably support you, or your team to achieve your outcomes quicker but I also appreciate the benefits of self-help solutions because these can give you bite sized information as and when you need it. For me, the most important part of this debate is always getting you to your outcome. The solution may even include a bit of both......with self help and expert support.
Personally, I really don't understand why people feel embarrassed or somehow broken when it comes to their mind, just like the plumbing you just don't have the expertise to use it. If you had an issue with anything else you'd say, 'I don't know how to do that, lets get the expert in' in my opinion your mind is no different.
Often when working with clients I see so many light bulb moments, there's lots of benefits to working things through out load. Often thoughts sound different and give you insights which you hadn't achieved on your own. I find talking and guided quiet reflection are such powerful parts of learning.
When I set up Refreshed Minds I created 4 pillers which represent how every person I support will be treated I think the first pillar - Positive Regard really highlights this point. (if you want to know all 4 you can do so here) I believe that everyone is doing the best they know how to do, you're not stupid or useless..........just doing your best with a tool you were probably never taught how to use. I always start with that perspective. I just know lots of stuff which can help and I'm happy to share it with you.
Does it matter which you choose?
Whether you choose a DIY approach or you decide to call in the expert it really doesn't matter so long as that solution gets you, or your team, to the outcome you want. If you ever feel it's beyond your expertise get in touch, I have loads of tools and techniques which can help and I'm always happy to share them.
If you would like some more free self-help support I share lots of free articles on the website packed with tips and hints you can try.
Lets stop debating how you do it, deep down you know if your self-help approach is enough or if you'd get further and quicker with the support of an expert. For me the decision really is as simple as deciding to call in the plumber.
Until next time
What people who suffer from issues such as anxiety and low self esteem can do to build their confidence.
Today I'm going to share with you a simple step to help build your confidence if you're struggling with issues such as anxiety and low self-esteem. It's the exact same technique I use with my clients and many have reported what a massive difference it's made and it's probably something you currently don't give a second thought.
Your brain is a very clever and powerful tool.....you know that right..........well language plays a massive part in driving that tool. Your language is the first step in directing what your subconscious mind does. Let me give you an example.
Don't think about a blue monkey with big ears.......
What did your brain do the minute you read that? It thought about a blue monkey with big ears, you couldn't help it, it just did. This is because your brain has to reference the content of a sentence in order for you to understand it. The same works for every sentence you say or hear, whether that's something you heard externally or something you say to yourself.
If you're saying to yourself, I'm not confident, I can't do this, I'm going to embarrass myself, what if it goes horribly wrong, then your brain has to reference what you mean. That sentence just provided the foundations of what your brain has to work with. And your brain is clever......It won't just find a measly weak example, it will find all the examples to support that language eg what others have said, what you've read, what your experiences has been but it will always be within the context of the language you first used eg it will find all the reasons why you can't do something, all the times it's not gone right, every time someone has said you're no good etc etc etc etc..........
You are the hamster which drives that wheel...you threw the first punch by using that language, your brain just collected the evidence matching what you asked for.
So a really simple way to begin to build your confidence is to look at the language you use, expecially around whatever makes you feel anxious or have low confidence. Ask yourself is that language helpful and does it drive your brain in the right or the wrong direction?
If it's the wrong direction (and the majority of the time it is) then change it.....not once, not twice but over and over again. It's you that's giving your brain that foundation, if you truely want to change then stop throwing the first punch.
A cautionary note about overly crazy positivity
A little note here, I don't prescribe changing your language to over crazy positivity eg 'the world is great and everything is fine'. In my opinion your brain is way too clever to fall for that kind of statement. I don't know about you but my brain's response is usually.....'Yeah right who are you trying to kid!!' But sentences like 'I can do this' or 'every day I can feel better' feel much more possible. Choose language which is positive but authentic.
Your brain will use this language as the foundation and then finds you examples which match so why not choose the language which supports you.......rather than what tears you down.
I appreciate this takes practise, when you've done something one way your whole life it won't just flip to doing something else. I've been practising this for over 5 years and still catch myself sometimes. But it does gets easier and easier. So you have to make the effort.....notice your language and practise changing it to something realistically positive.
If you struggle to come up with positive things to say I have created some Pick Me Up audio downloads on a number of topics to make it easier. Just click the link above, download one which suits you, listen often and they'll give you a kick start in the right direction. If you don't find one which matches what you want? Let me know, I'm always adding to the collection and happy to take people's requests into consideration.
So that's it......language.....hugely powerful stuff which you probably just let come and go through your head without ever questioning it. It's your language which forms the foundations of your thoughts so choose it wisely. Make sure it builds your confidence and you'll be surprised just how much impact it can have.
Until next time