Very interesting guest post on positive thinking and the physical neuropsychology of it.
The idea of positive affirmations may sound a little naïve to some – that simply by repeating positive phrases over, we can change our personalities to the point where we become more positive people. Then this can help us to overcome psychological disorders and even to find more success in our real life; it all sounds a bit too good to be true. But while it might sound overly simplistic, positive affirmations actually do have a lot of use and are very helpful in a number of ways. Here we will look at precisely what it is about positive affirmations that makes them so powerful, and how you can get the most of them yourself.
Why Are Positive Affirmations Useful?
Our bodies, and particularly our brains, love routine and systematic behavior When something becomes routine it becomes much easier for our body to prepare and to second guess what’s coming up which is why we’re so good at adapting to routines and then sticking rigidly to them.
In the brain for instance, any behavior that you repeat over and over can become more effective at repeating that action because the practice will strengthen the neural pathways in our mind. Like a muscle, using particular areas of the brain in certain ways causes those areas to adapt and change (this phenomenon is called ‘neuroplasticity’) and that means that we begin to perform this action almost by default on autopilot.
As such then, the way we think can also become habitual or even ‘addictive’ and if we are constantly thinking negative thoughts then eventually that will become routine and it will become difficult not to think those negative thoughts. Likewise though, by using positive affirmations – by simply repeating positive phrases to yourself over and over again – you can pick this up as a habit so that in future all of your self-talk is more positive and up-beat and encouraging rather than self-defeating.
Furthermore, we have a tendency to almost ‘believe’ ourselves to the point where we will take actions to make our predictions come true on an unconscious level. Ever been unable to find your keys and then have someone come in to help and find them immediately? It’s called a ‘skotoma’ or a ‘mental blind spot’ and it exists because you’ve told yourself you can’t. Using positive affirmations then can increase your chance of success because on some level your unconscious mind will believe what you say.
How to Use Them
To use positive affirmations you need to think about the kinds of phrases that are likely to convince you to perform better – whether those are things like ‘it doesn’t matter what other people think’ or more straightforward things like ‘I know I can do it’.
Now you need to repeat these on a regular basis and this can be at timed intervals, by saying them in the morning and before bed for instance, or whenever you specifically need them before a challenge. In ‘cognitive behavioral therapy’, patients are taught to be ‘mindful’ of their own thoughts, so they are more conscious of the things they think, and to then replace those thoughts with tailored more positive ones.
If you struggle to remember to use your positive affirmations they can work well as notes to yourself – for instance on post-its around your home, or written in washable markers on your glass surfaces.
John Simpsons is an avid blogger and an expert in the field of human psychology, yoga and meditation. He is currently working for krownhypnotherapy.com