Thumbnail image by Justin Posey
Shift a Problem-Saturated Focus to a Solution-Finding Zone
A positive attitude or positive self-talk may not solve all your problems but it will put you in a better space to find solutions. When you shift your self-talk to “what is the best way to get through this?” you will move out of a problem-saturated state into a positive solution-focused zone. Your body's anxiety/fear response calms and brain cortisol levels reduce. The brain's alarm bell (the amygdala) settles and endorphins - the feel good hormones, are released and flood your brain and body. The biofeedback body-brain cycle reduces the fear you are experiencing. You can now access the memory and creativity part of your brain and connect to your higher functions in the brain's frontal cortex.
This is how the science worked for me.
I was camping with my friend and our children in the Australian bush. My friend decided to drive my four-wheel drive car through a tricky track to get closer to the campsite. The front wheel was stuck up on a rock and the car ended up listing dangerously at a 45-degree angle. If the car tipped over my friend would be crushed. My thoughts and self-talk quickly moved into overdrive. “What can I do? Do I tell her to get out? This is going to be terrible. She will be hurt really badly. There is no one around to help us. I don’t want the kids to see this”. The problem-saturated thoughts set off the alarm bell in my brain and the fear response in my body created more panic. I couldn’t think what to do!
Then I used my breathing skills, calmed my body and changed my self-talk. “ I can work this out. What can I do?” My body calmed and my thoughts changed. An optimistic attitude washed over my brain and body. I had shifted into my positive attitude zone changing my body and brain response. I was in the “ What can I do?” solution-focused zone. I was looking at the problem from a different perspective.
Then it came to me like a blinding flash – Bulls-eye! “Reverse the car back the way she had come”. I realised my friend was frozen as the fear response gripped her body and brain. I stood on the running board on the opposite side of the car and calmly and said with authority “Put the car in reverse and hold the wheel steady and just reverse back” Yeah! We had solved a potentially dangerous situation.
The mind can be used to change the brain to change the mind
You can rewire your brain for a positive attitude to problems with positive self-talk and attitudes to life. Optimism in the face of adversity helps you see what solutions are available or accept there is no solution to the problem.
Is the glass half-empty (negative-frame) or half-full (positive-frame)? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself and the way you look at life problems.
The stone age human brain is wired with a negative-frame bias for survival. If you tend to be pessimistic, don't despair you can learn positive thinking and an optimistic attitude.
Optimism is one of the best ways you can train your brain and improve your emotional and physical well-being. Practicing optimism for ten to twelve seconds will rewire your brain from the negative-frame bias to a positive-frame. You can change your 'glass half empty' to a 'glass half full' attitude to life challenges.
We all know about the brain neuroplasticity (brain rewiring) and that brain exercise is essential for brain health. Dr. Rick Hansen explains how the development of an optimistic attitude can be achieved through an understanding of neuroplasticity - “passing mental states become lasting neural states” and “neurones (brain cells) that fire together stay together”. The brain can be rewired to overcome the negative-frame bias.
Hardwiring Happiness: The Hidden Power of Everyday Experiences on the Modern Brain Dr. Rick Hanson at TEDxMarin 2013
Drop by drop the water pot is filled Buddhist saying
Little by little you can fill your self with optimism by practicing inspiring notes to your self.
You may like to review what research shows about the impact of positive self-talk on your health and well-being in Uplifting Notes to Your Self That Can Change Who You Are: #1 http://www.jacqueline-conroy.com/news/uplifting-notes-1
Notes to My-Self
10 (additional) Affirmations & Attitudes to change your actual reality.
11. I step out of my comfort zone
Take the risk! What would be different if you stepped out of your comfort zone today?
Practice the feeling of being vulnerable and uncomfortable. What will you gain from taking the risk?
12. I embrace life
I choose life! What can you celebrate in your life today?
Practice living in the present. What can you hang onto to get through the challenging time?
13. I give myself time to reflect
Build reflective moments into your day. What can you gain from reflection?
Today I will reflect on ......
14. Today is a new day
Oh yes today is a new day! What can you do differently today?
What would you would like to change? Where will you start?
15. Feelings are feedback
Feelings are feedback. Do you listen to your feelings and what they are telling you?
How are you going to choose to respond to your feeling?
16. I am a work in progress
Learning and growth happen for you when you are curious and open.
Are there parts of you that you would like to keep? What are the parts you want to change?
17. I am in control of my well-being
You are responsible for your well-being. What does well-being look like for you?
What are the signs that you are managing your well-being?
How can you support your wellbeing?
18. I have choices
You have choices. In this situation what is within your control?
What choice will you make today? How will your choice affect your reality?
19. I accept what is
What is really happening here? Can I change what is happening?
What is working for you and what is not? What is your next step?
20. Change is an opportunity
What changes do you want to make in your life?
Change can be uncomfortable and scary. How will things be different if you make the changes you want?