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.
Table of Contents
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.
When positive emotions are in short supply, people get stuck.
“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:
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,
“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:
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.
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:
- 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life
- 20 All-Time Best Motivational Books to Inspire You
- You Are What You Listen To: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself
- 15 Really Good Podcasts to Keep You Motivated and Reach Your Goals
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.
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
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 About Positive Thinking
- 10 Simple Ways To Make Positive Thinking Your Habit
- How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts
- How to Cultivate a Positive Mindset (A Step-By-Step Guide)
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|||^||Barbara Fredrickson: Cultivating Positive Emotions to Optimize Health and Well-Being|