BY: Janine Mitchell
Change consultant / Changing mindset
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Hello! So yesterday was supposed to be the most miserable day of the year?
I don’t want to focus on this anymore, I want to focus on how this is the start of a new year, the start of a new chapter, the start of a new focus, goal or success. The start of feeling good for no reason.
In this article, I will touch on why we think the way we do and write about how we can start making subtle changes which will ultimately lead to big shifts. I will also provide you with three top practical tips that you can use straight away.
Unfortunately we have a tendency to focus on the negatives, as this is often innate within us. It’s easier to do so, and what better time to do it, right after the festivities, on the most dark days of the year when the weather is grey and dismal.
Even though negative thoughts are like velcro and positive thoughts are like teflon, it doesn’t have to be like this.
I want you to start focussing on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. We find it easier to focus on the lack, rather than what we actually desire, a common example if worrying about having no money, or being concerned about how we are going to pay the bills – guess what you are focusing on…will it go away when you do so, or will you attract more of the same? Unfortunately, it is easier to focus on the negative. With new ways of thinking however, we can actually begin to retrain the brain to think in different ways.
Why do we do this in the first place?
We are a nation wired to feed off negativity, we secretly love it. Turn on the news, it’s negative, open the newspaper, it’s negative, drive past a big crash on the motorway, everyone slows down to fully rubber neck and have a good look *sigh*
Our ancient ancestors were in survival mode 24/7. They were continually living by the hormones of stress. Today we are no longer generally in imminent danger, however too many of us continue to live by the hormones of stress by thinking and feeling in a certain way that keeps us stuck. So when we have a negative thought, this will release a chemical in the brain, e.g. adrenaline or cortisol. Of course, we all need some stress which can be positive and helpful. However if we are constantly living by the hormones of stress, we are literally living in emergency mode the entire time.
Do you think this is good for our bodies? It sure isn’t and what happens as a result? A number of things.
Often people will only meet absolute breaking point before they secure any type of help. Their back is against the wall, so to speak.
For example, experience a stroke, heart attack, stress related illness. By then it can often be too late, leaving the person thinking, why did I not do something sooner? I often say to clients, how much water can a sponge hold before it all comes dripping out?
It is actually easier to sort something out, before it becomes too late. We have to give ourselves a break, and work out what is more important in life.
To finish, I am going to provide three practical tips which will help you shift your focus and get you off automatic, a way you have potentially thought for a long time.
- Practice new breathing habits. Most of us don’t breath properly most of the time, leaving our body’s starved of essential and much needed oxygen. Regular breathing exercises also allows us to slow down, be in the now and get off automatic, our patterns of the past. I want you to focus on your breathing every hour throughout the day. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in for the count of 4. Then hold this for 4, then breath out for 5. I want you to repeat this five times. You will feel automatically calmer and much more focussed and more refreshed when you have finished.
- Take more time for you in the working day – 30/70. I want you to practice some self care during your working day. Instead of shovelling lunch down at your desk, go for a walk. The former will NOT make you more productive, trust me. Avoid coffee and sugary drinks and drink plenty of water. Take a break, chat to others, get some fresh air. Focus on a 30/70 balance rather than letting work completely consume you.
- Perform a random act of kindness. Do something kind today that will benefit someone else. Make two sandwiches and give one to a homeless person, send an anonymous gift to a friend, give someone a genuine compliment*
*In a recent study which explored the effects of being kind whereby participants were asked to do one kind thing a day, there wellbeing levels were then measured. The results found that people performing random acts of kindness for a week felt less angry, laughed more and felt more energised.