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Last Updated on January 2, 2020

How to Practice Positive Thinking And Change Your Life

How to Practice Positive Thinking And Change Your Life

Want to expand your potential? It all starts with the thoughts that we have and our self-talk (the stories we tell to ourselves). Negative and limiting beliefs will contract our potential; positive, and affirming thoughts will help it expand.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ― Norman Vincent Peale

This is a quote from Norman Vicent Peale, the author of the book The Power of Positive Thinking. You’ve probably tried at some point to shift things around yet, the results were not the ones you expected.

In this article, I’ll share basic concepts of positive thinking, the common stories that people tell themselves that limit their potential, how the power of positive thinking will improve your life and ways in which you can start applying positive thinking in your life so you can start seeing a positive difference in your life.

What Is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you live in a world of rainbows and unicorns, where you ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking means that you respond to uncomfortable or unpleasant situations in a more positive and optimistic way.

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” — Zig Ziglar

Our mind is our greatest tool and ally or opponent when it comes to achieving our success goals. We all have a constant flow of thoughts in our minds, which is basically the self-talk that runs our lives. If the majority of our thoughts are negative, it means that our outlook on life is more pessimistic. On the other hand, if our predominant thoughts are positive, we are optimistic.

A study conducted by Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, indicated that people should cultivate positive emotions and thoughts in their own lives and in the lives of those around them; not just because doing so makes them feel good in the moment, but also because doing so transforms people for the better and sets them on paths toward flourishing and healthy longevity.[1]

When positive emotions are in short supply, people get stuck.

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“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” — Joyce Meyer

Many experts agree that those who cultivate a positive attitude greatly enhance their chances of professional advancement. Here are some of the most common benefits of positive thinking on your career:

  • You will engage with others more effectively and get along better with your colleagues.
  • You will get support more easily for your initiatives.
  • You will become a better role model as positive attitude is a magnet.
  • You will inspire others around you to shift toward the positive.
  • You will be more productive.
  • You will see possibility where others only see problems.
  • You will see your achievements and accomplishments rather than focusing on your failures.
  • You will manage stress at work more efficiently.
  • You will become more resilient and bounce back faster.

The good news is if you think you’re not that optimistic, positive thinking skills can be learned!

Negative Thought to Get Rid Of

As I mentioned before, the stories we tell ourselves will determine our experiences and could open or close doors to opportunities we have both personally and professionally.

When we choose to tell ourselves stories using the lens of negative or limiting self-talk, we will limit our potential. Here are some of the most common stories:

“I Can’t”

When people are facing a big decision like applying for a promotion, considering a career change or even leaving a job to do work that feels more fulfilling, they will come up with a lot of reasons why they can’t make that decision. And these reasons will feel absolutely authentic and true.

But if they allowed themselves to dig a little deeper and see what’s behind the “I can’t”, they would find that one of the true main reasons behind it is fear – fear of stepping outside of their comfort zone, fear of taking a risk, fear of not having what it takes, fear of losing the security of what’s known.

This could stem from previous events. But here’s the thing: just because we had bad events that happened to us in the past, it doesn’t mean that it will be pervasive and that making a new decision will undermine everything we do.

“I Don’t Have Time”

A quote by Steven Covey says,

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“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

Many people struggle with time management and the truth is that we can’t manage time. We can, however, manage our choices, priorities and energy. Maybe they’re telling themselves “I don’t have time” because deep down, they don’t want change due to fear. Or maybe they need to get clarity on how satisfied they are with their situation, and how that’s affecting their capacity to move forward.

We all need to take personal and energetic responsibility because at the end of the day, the lives that we’re living now are the direct results of our own creation.

“It Can Work for Others, Not for Me”

This thought comes from thinking that “They are not enough”. By believing this, they are catastrophizing and anticipating the worst without even giving the opportunity a try. Fear of failure is behind it. They could be thinking about how their life would change and what would other people say or think of them if they failed.

When they think “It can work for others, not for me”, it really relates to low self-esteem. But even if they don’t have the skills or tools to achieve what they want now, they are always good enough and worthy of what they want.

The truth is that, we all face fear of failure at some point, it’s natural. But we have to understand that there is no learning if there’s no failing. Failing is part of success and growth. We just have to face the fear, take a step forward and be open to see the lessons from the experience or situation.

How to Practice Positive Thinking in Your Life

When we start to have negative thoughts, it can be hard to stop them. We have all been there at some point. Shifting our focus to positive thoughts is the only way to avoid going down a spiral that will not bring positive results.

Here are some of the things I have done to shift my negative thoughts that you can also try:

1. Meditate

Meditation helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels and will help you stay in the present moment and find peace within. Meditation is a great practice to have in the morning, so you can start your day grounded and present.

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If you have never meditated and would like to give it a try, here’s a beginner’s guide: The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

2. Start the Day on a Positive Note

Besides meditation, reading or listening to something inspirational helps set the tone to the rest of your day:

You can also do some affirmations like “Today is going to be an amazing day”.

3. Create a List of at Least 3 Things You’re Grateful For

Gratitude helps you realize all the good and positive things you already have in your life (it doesn’t matter how small they are). Feeling grateful helps you stay grounded in the present moment. There is no way you can be grateful and negative at the same time.

Try these 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For if you need some ideas to feel grateful for.

4. Surround Yourself with Positive People

If you ever feel stuck in a negative loop, call someone you trust — someone who can help you put things into perspective and will not feed the negativity.

You can spot out the differences between positive people and negative people easily. Stick with the positive people and get rid of the negative ones.

5. Shift Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk

Our negative self-talk can be so engrained in us that it can be hard to become aware of it. It’s easy to dwell in our mistakes and beat ourselves up.

When you catch yourself doing this, just pause for a couple of minutes, take a couple of deep breaths and start replacing those negative stories with more positive ones.

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For example: replace “I’m so bad at doing _____ with “I’m getting better and better everyday”, or “I know that the more I practice, the better I’ll get at it”, or “It didn’t work out as planned but if I try again, I will see improvement”.

Here’re more ideas: 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success

Final Thoughts

Here’s the thing:

No one is perfect, we are all peers in this human experience, and we’re always learning.

The only thing we can do is learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward.

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight. I can assure you that with practice and consistency, your self-talk will start shifting to more self-acceptance and acceptance of others.

Additionally, when you’re optimistic, it will be easier to handle stress in a more constructive and productive way.

More Positive Vibes

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Patricia Young

Certified Professional & Holistic Coach, bestselling author, host of the Awakening to Life podcast

How to Practice Positive Thinking And Change Your Life Why Some People Have a Lack of Empathy (And How to Deal with Them) How to Forgive and Live a Happy Life Again (A Step-By-Step Guide) The Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day)

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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