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Think That Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

Think That Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

Positive thinking is one of the most touted philosophies in the world. Many authors have written many different books and articles professing about the advantages of positive mantras, and the list includes not only writers but many notable industrialists, celebrities, and highly respected personalities.

Decoding positive thinking

Positive thinking [1] is actually developing our mindset in such a way that we expect good and only favorable outcomes from any events. In other words, it’s the process of transferring our energy into reality by thinking only optimistic thoughts. (That’s what the notion is, at least.)

Does it really work?

While many people believe that positive thinking really leads you to the path of glory and happiness, there are others who think otherwise. Both sides have put forward many compelling reasons supporting their views. While the argument may be never ending, the detractors have a strong foothold over their claims because the proponents of the debate don’t have too many scientific backings behind their claims.

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How positive mantras can backfire

Suppression of negative emotions causes outbursts of dreadful negativity

If we use positive mantras [2] too frequently, then it might work for a shorter period but on the long run, it may cause even more adverse consequences. Why so? When we use a positive mantra, it tends to suppress our negative emotions. But, if it continues for a longer time and becomes a habit, then we might be overwhelmed by even more negative feelings at times when the results are not as expected, as there should be a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions in life. The balance of positive and negative feelings in life is also supported by the Ying and Yang theory developed by the Chinese.

Action speaks louder than mantras

Additionally, uttering positive mantras in our life might work sometimes and also, to channel the energy into reality, utter faith and absolute belief are required. However, the mantras most definitely prove themselves useless, if we just keep chanting positive mantras but fail to put into action the message that the mantra is supposed to convey. As a consequence of that, we might be caught off guard by negative kind of vibes, and feel highly frustrated because our mind will immediately conjure up many negative thoughts.

For instance, if you believe that a perfect body is the one with well-toned abs, biceps, and wings, which you don’t possess, but keep on insisting that you have a perfect body, then your mind will start searching for the fallacies (which you think, mind it) within your body. You will be insecure about the little bit of belly protruding out, you will be insecure about your waistlines and even your arms. This will make you more insecure about your body and will depress you even more.

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Trap you into delusional fantasies

A fact is a fact, it won’t change irrespective of the situations and time, so a fact is not going to change even when you utter positive mantras your whole life. For example, if you are a little short on the finances, you aren’t going to miraculously solve your financial problems just because you utter positive mantras million times. It will be much better if you accept the reality and work towards dealing with it. For example if you have loan problems you should work on personal budgeting instead of living with a false sense of security. This will make you happier on the long run.

Let’s take another scenario for example. You have an exam tomorrow and you are not prepared well. If you say that you are going to score 100 out of 100, it’s never going to work irrespective of how many times you say it in your head. The reality is you haven’t prepared well and there are certainly going to be questions, which you haven’t prepared for. While positive mantras might help you to write the answers correctly to the questions that you have prepared for, you won’t be able to write the answers, you don’t know. What I am trying to say is ‘there is a hypothetical situation and there is a brute reality’. Conjuring fantasies to wrap up reality is no way to answer any question in the real world.

Hard work is key to success in our life. If you have worked hard then despite all the negative thoughts that might surround your head instinctively, you are going to perform better, however, if you haven’t put on enough work, then no matter how many times you say that you are going to be successful, it won’t be enough.

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When positive mantras backfire

A study has also shown that positive thinking works well if you have very high self-esteem [3] . But if you have low self-esteem and utter positive mantras, it is found that it will only strengthen your negative mindset when they are met by set-backs. This will result in many negative feelings. For example, if a good football player believes that he is going to be the best then it will act as a buffer and he will be able to perform to his potential, however, if a player with low self-esteem thinks that he is going to be the best player in the world, he will feel that his shooting is not good and even his passing is not on the par with average football player in the world, which means he will perform worse in the matches.

Are there any alternatives that actually work?

If you are the believer of positive mantras and you are beginning to doubt its functionality, what will you do? Don’t fret because there is another theory called value affirmation which might help you.

What is value based self-affirmation?

First of all, values are the beliefs which we think are desirable and ideal. Our values are dynamic as it is changing accordingly and reshaping as we experience new things in our life, therefore, it is necessary that we update our values constantly, so our objective in life resembles the values we believe in.

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If we are aware of our values, it will help to maintain balance in our life. If there is an imbalance between our value and aim, it will undermine our motivation to do things. Hence, value affirmation is recognizing the values we believe in rather than saying the things like positive mantras repeatedly.

Does value based self-affirmation really work?

In one of the surveys conducted recently, students in one of the universities were chosen randomly to write about their values. Those students who were selected performed very nicely in their college years in comparison to those students who had not taken part. This was repeated again with the same success in Hispanic community and African-American community.

Therefore, the next time you find yourself chanting mantras to assure you that everything is going to be fine, stop. Instead, try to recognize your deeply rooted values and check whether your values are in balance with your action and goals or not, and become successful.

Reference

More by this author

Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Published on July 13, 2018

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

How attachment develops

Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

Different types of attachments

In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

  • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
  • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
  • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
  • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

What attachments mean to adults

So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

  • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
  • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
  • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
  • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Move towards secure attachment

The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

How to restructure your thoughts

Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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For the Avoidant Style

As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

For the Anxious Style

For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

For the Secure Style

Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

Strive towards Secure Attachment

As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

  • Positive self esteem and self image
  • Close and well adjusted relationships
  • Sense of security in self and the world
  • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
  • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
  • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
  • Trust in self and others
  • Close, intimate relationships
  • Strong determination and problem solving skills

If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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