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Posts Tagged ‘positive thinking’

Through my job, I am taking a workshop on positive psychology. I knew that the workshop would be helpful in the classroom, but I was pleasantly surprised to recognize the ways I already use some positive psychology in my life as well as on this blog.

As an example, the workshop recommends building strategies that encourage others to feel hopeful. One way to do this is by sharing coping strategies to help the other person deal with a challenging area in his or her life.

As you know, this blog is filled with numerous “tools for your emotional toolbox” — not only tools that I have shared but also many wonderful tools that readers have provided. I will write about how much yoga has helped me, and then a reader might say, “Yoga doesn’t work for me, but I find Tai Chi to be helpful.” Collectively, we have managed to provide many tools for the emotional toolbox.

Not every coping strategy is going to work for every person, but enough tools have been provided on this blog (be sure to read the comments!) that anyone who visits the blog will hopefully find some tool that is helpful.

Another point the workshop made is to focus on your positive traits rather than only your negative ones. It pointed out that this can be an issue even in therapy. This was true for me. I entered into therapy with a very long list of all of the things that were “wrong” with me that I wanted to fix. My therapist continuously pointed out my strengths so I could see that I had those as well. (It took me a long time to “hear” him, though.)

The workshop points out that simply focusing on positive things is not going to magically fix all of your problems, but using your strengths daily and taking an inventory of the blessings in your life can go a long way toward giving you a reason to keep fighting your way toward emotional health.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Man on bike (c) Lynda BernhardtWhen a person chooses to heal from child abuse, the biggest hurdle that he faces is the momentum of a lifetime of thinking about himself in a certain way. It is second nature for a child abuse survivor to put an enormous amount of energy into hating himself. Healing from child abuse involves doing the exact opposite, which is learning how to love yourself. This can be hard to do.

It is kind of like turning a big ship around. When you turn the wheel, the ship is not going to do a 180 right away. It is going to take some time. First, the ship has to slow down. Then, as it slows, it can begin changing direction. As it turns into the way that it needs to go, you can once again pick up speed in the right direction.

I have found that, to heal many aspects of my child abuse history, I had to begin by slowing down the negative stuff before I could implement the positive stuff. For example, to heal my negative associations with sex, I could not suddenly wake up one day and say that sex went from making me feel badly about myself to feeling great. Instead, just removing the negative energy and becoming neutral about sex slowed the ship, enabling me to begin turning it around.

I have applied this to many areas of healing, including self-injury and an eating disorder. Sometimes the most kind thing I can do for myself is to slow the negative progression. Then, as the negativity slows, it leaves room to start adding some positive energy to the situation.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Plant (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Many child abuse survivors fail to appreciate the power of their thoughts. Our thoughts are what keep child abuse survivors in bondage long after the abuse ends, and our choice to change our thoughts can propel child abuse survivors out of despair and into hope. Choosing the right thoughts can redefine our lives. Every thought that you have channels your energy.

I saw a poster that showed a person climbing a mountain. The caption read, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you will be right.” There is so much truth in that poster. If you think you can, then you have thoughts like The Little Engine That Could. If you think that you can’t, then you will sabotage your efforts by channeling negative energy that thwarts your efforts.

I believe the power of our thoughts can contribute to suicidal feelings. Suicidal thoughts are feelings, and feelings always pass. However, when we attach our thoughts to our feelings, thinking things like, “It’s hopeless; I might as well give up,” it is like flooring a Corvette the wrong way down a one-way street. We can very quickly find ourselves in a very dangerous place if we are not mindful of the energy we are channeling.

On the positive side, we can channel our energy to propel ourselves through the healing process. By choosing to stop negative internal messages and replace them with positive ones, we can turn the tide of how we are feeling.

About a year ago, I made the choice to say the following messages to myself multiple times a day, “I love you. You are safe. I’m sorry.” I chose these three sentences because they were the three messages that I most needed to hear in my childhood. I did not believe any of them, but I said them repeatedly anyhow. In time, I grew to believe them. I found that I could ground myself anytime I was triggered by saying these messages in my head.

More recently, I started telling myself that I am healed, integrated, and whole. While I had reached a place of healing, I had trouble believing it. Channeling my thoughts in this direction helped me to see that I really had healed.

If you are struggling in any area of your life, monitor your internal thoughts. Change the way you talk to yourself, and you will change the direction of your life.

Related Topic:

Trauma Thursday: Traumatized Child and Healing Through Mantras

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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