From The Straits Times    |

How to think positive about everything

Photo: Vassiliy Kochetkov 

As much as it is important to think positively, it is equally important to step out of the habit of thinking negatively. While it may be impossible to eliminate this completely,there are techniques you can use to minimise the effects of negative thinking.

According to Dr Rebecca Gladding and Dr Jeffrey Schwartz, psychiatrists who wrote a book on changing bad habits, your brain has the power to act out bad habits without thinking twice, but only if you let it.

When you repeatedly allow yourself to go down the negative thinking process, your brain starts to take that as your automatic response to similar situations and causes you to have self-defeating behaviour.

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Board-certified behaviour change specialist, Ms Aimee Barnes, said:  “Self-defeating behaviour is when a person engages in self-sabotaging actions that result in some loss of control over his or her life. In fact,we may be conscious that such behaviour is no good for us when we are doing them.”

Dr Gladding and Dr Schwartz stated that you can potentially self-inflict negativity when you over think problems, think about situations that are out of your control, have unfounded fears, blame yourself for problems that were not your fault and use unhealthy methods to escape stress.

Here are some ways you can step out of negative behaviour and become more positive.

Replacing bad habits 
There are many reasons why people engage in self-defeating behaviour and turn to bad habits. For instance, they may need a coping or soothing mechanism to alleviate painful feelings.

Start from the beginning and ascertain what the habits do to you and why you started them in the first place. Create a plan of action and some concrete goals.

Ms Barnes said: “Assess if you are ready to change. Think about your options and support system. Usually the best option for getting over a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit, like meditation,running, journaling, volunteering or daily walks with a friend.”

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Overcoming bad habits is a process that requires patience and grit, and can be cultivated.

Ms Barnes said: “When I talk to people, I usually have them first explore how a lack of boundaries is impacting their lives to create greater awareness. Then, we look at two or three real-life situations and explore how better boundaries can improve the situation, as well as how to enforce them.”

Being consistent
It is natural to falter in the beginning when you try to implement the new good behaviour and habits. Give yourself about six weeks to make the habit become natural and automatic to you.

Ms Barnes said: “Having a good team to support you is crucial,whether that means enlisting the help of friends or loved one.

Practicing self-compassion each day is also key in learning how to respect yourself. This can be done through activities involving mindfulness,positive affirmations, and gratitude. Be patient with yourself.”

This story was first published in The Straits Times Classified. Download The Straits Times Classified app available free at the Apple App or Google Play stores.

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