The Simple Tip to Thinking Positively
As much research is out there about the positive effects of positive thoughts, you’d think it would be a whole lot easier to adapt this knowledge into a habit. Right? After going through some pretty heavy stuff in my early twenties, I noticed a huge mental shift. I was known as a bubbly, happy-go-lucky, and optimistic girl but felt none of those qualities suited me. Instead of living with believing each opportunity was going to bring something wonderful, I felt ungrounded and dreaded having “the rug pulled out from under me” again. Since I had been living in a state of fight or flight, I had adapted my thoughts accordingly.
Fight or Flight
If you have been in a similar situation, you may know how uncomfortable it is to live in survival mode. You may also have noticed a negative thought pattern, I certainly did. After the birth of my first child, when postpartum anxiety settled in, I could physically feel the heaviness of my thoughts. I was scared to leave the house, scared to drive, and I was sure something horrible was just waiting for me.
I desperately wanted to change my mindset and feel bubbly and optimistic again. While the fight or flight response is innate (you’re not getting rid of it, it helps keep us alive) we can create healthy thought habits and healthy strategies to implement when we feel triggered. In this situation, I needed a way to combat my negative thinking that would stop the negative thought and create a positive thought in its place.
What If Up
Enter my wonderful life coach Katie, who taught me the “what if up” method.” Negative thoughts have a tendency to drain us and spiral out of control. Total side note but, they also give us crucial signs into our limiting beliefs, fears, and stress triggers. So when you have a negative thought, thank it. It’s bringing up an issue you need to take care of, and without it you wouldn’t have this opportunity to grow into a more emotionally intelligent and experienced individual.
Let’s say I am feeling a little down on myself about how I handled a situation with one of my children. I tell myself “you will never be the mom you want to be,” and I quickly follow it up with another damaging thought “what if you don’t even deserve to be a mom, what if your children grow up and you.” Whew. The ugly things we think about ourselves or our capabilities are opportunities to love ourselves bigger and uncover fear, remember that.
When a negative thought enters, you first want to take notice you have it. This stops the spiraling down process. If we are aware of our negative thought, we take back control quickly than if we have unbridled thoughts. The next thing you want to do is turn your negative thought into a positive - this is called our “what if up.” I may think “you will never be the mom you want to be,” but I stop it. Instead of following up with “what if I don’t deserve a mom,” I give myself a quick peptalk and say “Wow Sarah, you are really invested in raising your children with love and patience. You feel out of balance right now because your actions didn’t align with your core truth. What if this situation is a learning experience so you don’t feel this way again. What if you become so strong in your boundaries that the love your children have for you and the love you have for your children multiples by a thousand. What if your children grow up feeling so loved and cherished they help other parents become their best self. What if your relationship with your children stays this strong well into adulthood. What if you really are the mom you want to be and your children are thankful for everything you have done for them.” Man, can’t you already feel those good vibrations? The emotional heaviness is gone, and it’s place is a whole world of beautiful possibilities.
Now can you imagine what your thought habits would look like after thinking in “what if ups” for a week, month, or years? I’d say you’d have some pretty positive thoughts, you’d open yourself up to possibilities you once condemned yourself about, and you’d see the world as a place full of hope and security instead of lack. If you are thinking, “Sarah, you said this was one simple tip to thinking positively,” this definitely doesn’t feel like a simple tip, I implore you to look at simple vs easy.
Keep On Going
This is a simple tip, but if you have years of “what if down” thinking, it may not be easy to flip your thoughts. Our brains are really beautiful machines and fortunately for us, we can change our habits. When you are first starting to apply this tip, it’s best to have visual reminders or triggers to help us. You could set a notification on your phone a few times a day to check in and see if you’ve been using “what if ups.” You could hang quotes or wear clothing that inspires you to use “what if ups.” You need to make this habit easily accessible and then hold yourself accountable for the follow through.
The shift I have seen in my life since applying this is huge. I am writing this blog post, on this website, because of this tip. It scares me shitless to put my voice into the world. I hear echoes of “what if you aren’t good enough, what if you are not ready, what if someone else is better than you.” But I instead of believing them and dragging everything else down with it, I respond with “what if I am good enough, what if I help thousands of moms live their best life, what if my work gives life to someone who once felt as miserable as I did.” And in three positive thoughts, I feel I have enough love in my heart to conquer the world. And you do too.