“The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention in completely.” – E.Tolle
Thoughts are those subjective pictures, sounds and words — and the beliefs, associations, interpretations, opinions and meanings that pass through our mind or hold our attention. Thoughts arise of their own accord and everyday we experience thousands of thoughts and they are the background noise of our inner mental landscape. Whether positive or negative these thoughts clutter your minds, just like your house gets cluttered when you have too many possessions. Unfortunately clearing your mental clutter isn’t as simple as eliminating a possession. You cant throw away a thought. Your thoughts have a way of popping back up as you turn them down especially the disturbing ones.
When unwanted thoughts get your conscious attention, they manifest as moods, emotions, desires, impulses and influence your behaviour. Most of them are unhelpful that are intrusive, involuntary and negative in nature. Such random and problematic intrusive thoughts interfere with your clear thinking, distort your reality, control your moods or limit your potential self.
Being controlled by unpleasant or intrusive thoughts which pop into your mind can result in thought disturbances that are hard to manage. According to a research, most people are mind wavering 47% of their day. Mind wavering can be largely attributed to thought disturbances. However, struggling with, arguing with, trying to drown out or push away such unhelpful thoughts only amplifies them and you may find it difficult to get past such thoughts.
Why are some thoughts intrusive?
Some of our thoughts take the form of fear of the future, or negative memories of the past, or inappropriate that are unhelpful and unpleasant. They seem to appear out of almost no where and cause a great deal of anxiety. Intrusive thoughts are reinforced when you get entangled with them creating doubts about your decisions or your identity or safety. If not managed well, they can cause much distress and they may even lead to certain obsessive behaviours and can negatively impact your well-being.
Are intrusive thoughts normal?
You cannot will yourself not to think any such thoughts or to keep them out of your mind. Eventually thoughts like that drift back into your mind and rise to the surface. Having such thoughts is absolutely normal and many experience unwanted thoughts on a daily basis, but fixating or believing in them or getting controlled by them leads to problems and may cause unhealthy or dysfunctional behaviours. Because of the content of such thoughts is mostly alien or unacceptable and is at odds with who you are, they make you anxious. One of the common myth is that having such thoughts mean that you unconsciously want to do the things that come into your mind. This is not true and in fact trying to fight or avoiding them only ends up in reinforcing them. Knowing how to deal with invasive thoughts can be the key to prevent them from negatively impacting your normal functioning.
How to tame your intrusive thoughts…
Do you ever worry with your thoughts of such intrusive or obsessive nature? You would have noticed that the harder you try to suppress or to distract or substitute such thoughts, the more you tend to get caught up in them. Learning to deal with them effectively can reduce your fearful and negative reaction towards them but also reduces your over sensitivity towards such thoughts. Here is how you can tame your intrusive thoughts.
Accept your intrusive thoughts
Many of us avoid them because we are afraid of negative, fearful, unpleasant, disgusting thoughts; afraid of mental impulses. We tend to avoid intrusive thoughts because we don’t know how to deal with them. An emotional reaction to how you think just keeps them alive. This means that they will appear over and over until you do actually deal with them. Treating them real or avoiding them or trying to change your behaviour based on such thoughts only leads to a compulsive behaviour. You should learn the fact that sometimes the content of such thoughts is meaningless and irrelevant.
Instead of reacting to them as though they are real, Accept them and tell yourself the truth that they have no intrinsic reality and you aren’t purposefully thinking the thought and it doesn’t represent you. Accepting them stops you to react negatively to intrusive thoughts.
Practice ‘cognitive diffusion’
You have a choice in how you choose to respond to intrusive thoughts. This is possible when you are able to identify intrusive thought patterns that end up creating negative emotions or feelings. Here are certain patterns to help you recognise your unhelpful thoughts.
• Thoughts of imagined future or expecting bad things lead you to what-if scenarios causing fear, anxiety and worry.
• Focusing on your weaknesses or perceived flaws results in thoughts of not being good enough. Such patterns often increase your negative self-talk and self-criticism.
• Dwelling on your bad choices and wrong actions leads to thoughts of worthlessness and ruminating over your past mistakes creates thoughts of shame and guilt.
• Habit of lamenting in your sorrows and problems makes you fixate in thoughts based on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. This leads to frustration and wishing things were different.
Stepping back from your repetitive and unhelpful intrusive thoughts, by recognising and identifying them is the process of cognitive diffusion. When you are fused with your thoughts, you tend to believe and take them seriously as you buy into them, obey them and play them out. But by learning to see the thoughts simply as they are — as thoughts and not reality, you can step back into cognitive diffusion. You can hold on to them lightly and do not take your thoughts seriously. You only listen to them if you find them helpful or valuable. Being aware of unhelpful thought patterns when they arise will help you to not to get entangled in and they lose their power to generate unpleasant emotions.
Label your intrusive thoughts
In order not to get stuck in some of your negative thought patterns, it is important to name your thought. When an unhelpful thought pattern arises, simply labelling it mentally can reduce your reaction.
Intrusive thoughts are mostly repetitive and involve certain story lines. When an unhelpful thought comes up with a story line, try to label and let it go without giving much attention to it. It’s just a thought and not reality. Try and open your awareness to yourself and world around. As soon as you name your thought, you step back from being caught up in it and you stop being drawn into the negativity it creates. When you are mentally labelling your thoughts as ‘anxious’ or ‘fearful’ or ‘worrisome’, make sure you do so with compassion and not with aggression or frustration. This helps you to reflect on them with a positive perspective and respond to them peacefully.
Develop present moment awareness
Another effective way to deal with your intrusive thoughts is to bring back your awareness to the present moment. Paying attention to your present moment can get you out of your excessive unhelpful thinking and can ease you out of the internal noise so created. Bringing all your attention to your senses can calm your mind and grounds you in the present moment. In this way, little to no room is left in your attention for all that unwanted and unhelpful thoughts that are intrusive in nature. Being mindful of the present moment brings you back from mind wandering when you get lost in your old habits, beliefs, and negative reaction patterns. Through mindfulness, you build your capacity to change the contents of your thoughts to ‘present’ rather than about a remembered past or anticipated future.
Question your intrusive thoughts
As human beings, we have an inherent negativity bias, with our mental chatter being skewed more towards the negative rather than positive. So despite everything, certain intrusive thoughts can continue to have grip on you. In such cases, you can test reality of your thoughts by asking some helpful questions like ‘Am I creating negative interpretations?’ ‘Is my thought helpful?’ ‘What is the evidence for and against my thinking?’ ‘What is the best part of this situation or person?’ ‘Am I filtering out the positive and dwelling on the negative?’ This way, you can focus on constructive thoughts or actions and can try and find a positive. Doing a goal-directed thinking can also help you see things in a different perspective.
We cannot consistently think only positive thoughts because you cannot control your thoughts but only your response to them. In fact, despite all the efforts, intrusive thoughts float through your mind and rise to the surface. It is absolutely normal for you to experience unhelpful, or unpleasant thoughts from time to time. Even though they make you anxious and uncomfortable, there is no quick fix method to control or quite your thoughts in any lasting way. But by practicing above mentioned strategies, you can, however, tame them and redirect your attention towards positive by not letting them control or giving into them. With a little practice and persistence, you can untangle yourself from unhelpful intrusive thought patterns and can change your focus to more meaningful.
“You don’t have to control your thoughts, you just have to stop letting them control you.”
“The really valuable thing is intuition. The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.”
– Albert Einstein
The routines of everyday life—the same rituals in the home or work place—don’t make big demands on our decision-making capacities. But when making decisions under pressure, or choosing between solutions, or while making important choices about a career direction, many of us feel ill equipped to make the right choice. This is because most of us developed logic and reasoning skills through education and learned only to think rather than feel our way through life. So we navigate through life using only our logical left brains as a compass thereby undervaluing the intuitive capacities of our right brain. Most often our intuition capacities remain unappreciated and are largely left unused.
Many of us are hesitant about going with our gut instincts because we believe that they are uncertain. We fail to recognise that intuition serves as a means of self-expression. Whenever you experienced the feeling that something in a situation wasn’t right, then you’ve experienced intuition. Same way, if you ever experienced a situation where everything did seem to come together or right, that is also your intuition.
Why is ‘intuition’ important?
Learning to access your intuitive intelligence is important because of the expanse of information that is available with countless data, opinions, and endless expert advice telling you what you should do. With information coming from all directions, it becomes even more important to rely on your inner guidance system to make good choices and decisions that will guide you towards your best interests.
Research shows that accessing your intuitive capacities is one way to unleash your creativity. Learning to trust your intuition not only helps you in making better decisions but also boosts your creativity, guidance, clarity and confidence. You cannot always consciously rationalise every choice you make. Sometimes you have to go with your instincts, especially when you feel strongly about something. When faced with making tough choices, trusting your instincts can steer you in the right direction and can be a reliable guide in your decision-making process and you will be able to make well-informed decisions. By accessing your intuitional capacities, you will be able to find solutions more easily and be able to develop a complete and a broader perspective of issues outside of yourself.
Intuition is not what most people think it is; it is not what we think. It comes from a different side of the brain from that of logic and is defined as the ability to understand something instinctively without the need for conscious reasoning. The ability to understand something, without having to consciously process it, or to rationalise to make sense of it. It is a deep down or subconscious understanding to what we mostly refer to as gut feeling. It is an instinctive response to something that you immediately know, identify, or recognise with.
You probably use or access your intuition on a regular basis without being fully aware of it like for instance,
• when you have to make a decision or a choice and weigh the pros and cons, and are still confused or uncertain, and are at crossroads of your decision-making process.
• when there is too much information to digest consciously in a situation, you tend to go with an option that fits with your intuition rather than the guidance of others.
• When you don’t have enough time to rationalise a probability thoroughly, you resort to an instinctive action.
The intuitive process differs from person to person influenced by factors like their personality, attitude, their environment, culture, and other situations. Your intuitiveness tends to be more aligned with your subconscious of which your reasoning mind is unaware as your intuition depends on the collection of all your subconscious experiences.
So, what impedes your intuitiveness?
We all can access our intuitive capacities. But it depends on how you develop your intuitiveness and stay in tune with it and make it to work. Some factors can impede your ability to access your inner guidance during your decision-making and may let the logical mind control your thoughts and actions. Here are some such factors:
• Your intuitive capacities are fully intact but often hidden behind screen of logic and reasoning. Logic interferes with intuition.
•Lack of focus Often, intuitive messages are drowned by all the noise and activities that are going on in and around you. With distractions you cannot access your true feelings, thoughts and words.
•Lack of awareness of your surroundings and insight prevents you to get in touch with your intuitiveness. Your inner sense impressions most often come to you through one of your five senses. And the lack of awareness of your mental filters and learning to perceive reality objectively makes your intuition distorted.
• You will not be able to access your inner guidance by being fast-paced. The subtle messages go unnoticed and aren’t available to those who has the free attention to notice them.
• You can’t live Intuitively if you have an unhealthy emotional state. If you constantly compare yourself to others, or worry, or stressed, or exhausted, your will end up interpreting your intuition wrongly.
How to improve your intuitiveness?
“Intuition does not come to an unprepared mind.”- Albert Einstein
While making important decisions, we often face difficulty as we rely on only on our conscious mind and get lost weighing many options and variables. The left brain has knowledge, but without the intuitive wisdom of the right brain every decision comes out half-baked. By establishing a cooperative relationship between your conscious and subconscious, you can tune into your intuitiveness to make better decisions. Here are certain ways to access your inner guidance and to improve your intuitive capabilities.
Let go of logic
In order to begin accessing and trusting your intuitive powers, you need to stop being so reasonable and let go of logic sometimes. Logical mind dominates and devalues the intuitive messages and logical thinking distances you from using what you already intuitively know to navigate through certain situations. Use both logic and intuition, but not at the same time.
Trust your intuitive messages
“ If you have some idea you believe in, don’t listen to the croaking chorus. Listen only to what your own inner voice tells you.” – Daniel Carnegie
Believing in your ability to access and understand the messages can help you make better decisions. Trusting your intuition is a way of listening to your basic self through your physical senses and emotions. The better you can see, feel, or hear the inner guidance, the better equipped you will be in accessing your intuitiveness. Have the willingness to trust your instincts, when you feel uncertain or doubtful.
Make time to reflect and relax
You must be receptive, passive and open to notice subtle things that pop up. The more relaxed you are, the more your usually dominant, logical left brain steps back and your intuitive capacities come forward. To access your inner guidance, you have to make time to reflect on your experiences. Reflecting on the past experiences can give you a more objective view of things and makes you more aware of your negative emotions that might be preventing you from picking up intuitiveness of your subconscious.
Apply intuitive perspective
You may sometimes lack sufficient perspective to make a clear decision. How can you know the consequences of a decision ten years from now? you cannot know. But you can gain an intuitive perspective by using your imagination into the future. This enables you to apply intuitive wisdom to a decision by anticipating the future consequences of that decision rather than looking only from view-point of present. Asking questions that are aligned with your goals and seeking answers to them can raise your intuitive perspective.
Believe in your higher self
Intuition must ultimately rely on faith, because your inner guidance does not necessarily lead to risk-free decisions. Sometimes your intuition guides you onto a difficult path. But this doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision. Believing in your higher self can teach you to deal with difficulties and evolve in the process.
Finally, Intuitiveness can’t flourish in a busy environment. To access your inner guidance, you have to build in time in your schedule to meditate. In a meditative state, you can gain awareness and let go of your negative thoughts attuning you to clarity. This will make room for your inner voice and can lead to decisions that result in better outcomes.
“ When we consciously breathe, we connect to the present moment. This is when we are most in alignment with our intuition.”
Intuition is not about certainty. It is about trusting and having the courage to treat everything that happens as exactly what you need for your highest good and learning. With the inner guidance you will be able to navigate any situation with a sense of joy and ease. It may not tell you what you want to hear, but it will tell you what you need to do, can be a reliable guide and can be something that is worth following in your everyday lives.
“Follow your instinct. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.” – Oprah Winfrey
“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants, the question is, what are we busy about?” —Henry David Thoreau
Time is the greatest opportunity in our life among all. Those who utilise it well are the successful ones. Almost everyone these days have too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done. Most of us do lot of things which make you seem busy in a public manner like answering mails at all hours, or scheduling and attending meetings constantly, or instant messaging when someone poses a new question and so on. For many, there’s a comfort in such artificial ‘busyness’ of fast e-mail messaging and social media posturing, while actual work demands that you leave much of that behind. In such cases, your ‘busyness’ becomes proxy to your efforts in doing productive work. Such unproductive busyness leaves you discontent as there are always certain aspects that could be done better thereby forcing you to confront the possibility that your best is not that good.
Being ‘busy’ is not same thing as being ‘productive’
We find ourselves tackling too many things at the same time, spreading our focus so thin that nothing gets the attention it deserves. While many might be logging in long hours at work, or at home, but the same might not always end up in doing quality work. Because of this we often feel that we spending a lot of time on something, but don’t feel like been productive enough. One main reason for this could be the most important tasks are usually a bit more difficult and require more of our attention, time and focus. But most of the time, we get so caught up in the day-to-day distractions or ‘busyness’ of life and give either more or less attention to things than they deserve and lose the sense of being in control. We often cite the reason of being busy for postponing some of our important tasks. This habit of putting off important tasks on the back burner can rob you of your hours of achievement and success.
Think about the last time you felt highly productive. In productive state, you remain highly focused on what you are doing and make a noticeable progress towards a meaningful outcome. Whereas with ‘busyness’, you start to feel out of control, unfocused, confused and stressed out. The inability to manage your time properly leads to additional stress related issues and burnouts very early on. In the absence of clear goals, the visible busyness becomes self-preserving, and developing a belief that if a behaviour relates to being busy, then it’s good-regardless of its impact on our ability to produce valuable things. All of the social, digital, and societal trends only add to one’s busyness and do not directly add to the value of quality work one produces. With unmindful busyness,
• You waste time on doing unimportant tasks that could be used productively.
• It creates unnecessary anxiety as you put off the important tasks to later.
• It impedes your clarity and focus.
• By leaving little time for the important task, the final output is usually short of what you are really capable of.
• You cannot adopt to changing situations as busyness impacts your perspective of what’s really going on.
• You cannot plan on sticking to your deadlines for your projects.
• Leads to flawed thinking and distracted behaviours.
“The greatest enemy of good thinking is busyness.” –John C.Maxwell
How to overcome ‘busyness’ to become more productive
But if you’re willing to sidestep these comforts and fears, and instead deploy your attention to its fullest capacity to things that matter, then you’ll discover that you can create a life rich with productivity and meaning. To overcome ‘busyness’, one has to manage his/her time effectively to work on priorities. Making optimal use of time helps you in curbing the stress and burnouts. If you spend significant amount of time towards professional aspirations and goals, learning how to use that time optimally will help you achieve positive outcomes.
Here are certain strategies to overcome your busyness and become more productive.
Put first things first
Because of the busyness, we always have a reason to put off the important things. What fills up our time is a result of what we let into our days. When you don’t choose important things, your days automatically get filled with not so important ones. Prioritising helps you in making right choices. In order to rise above ‘busyness’, you have to know what your purpose is and should be able to define your goals. Before doing something, consider asking yourself
whether the tasks you are working on are important for your end goals. Unless you consciously take time out for your priorities, you will not be able to accomplish goals that are important to you. Start your day with a “To do list” and prioritise the vital few after picking them from the trivial many.
“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. — Saint Francis of Assisi
We find that more we do, the more we add up to our to-do-task list and end up in multitasking. Multitasking has become a part of life for many of us where we believe that this is a way to be more productive. Science reveals that our brains actually can’t handle doing more than one thing at a time. With multitasking, your attention remains divided as there will be a residue of your attention when you switch from one task to another. This leads to poor performance. Whereas by working on a single hard task for a long time without switching, you can overcome non-productive busyness and can also maximise your performance.
Reduce your distractions
Many are permanently tethered to their work day in and day out, dealing with trends like answering emails at all hours, instant messaging, and active presence on social media. Of course certain mediums offer benefits to your social life, but none are important enough to what really matters to you. Always trying to catchup can claim your attention and time adding to only to your ‘busyness’ and not in producing work of real value. Learn to reduce your reactiveness to these distractions. Identifying factors that side track and deter you from achieving the task at hand. Consider blocking or create blackout periods over a day to free up your time. Try and fill up your free time with something of more quality and meaningful.
Many times we get drowned in the details instead if focusing on micro and macro. Details are important, but only those that will affect your end goal. You only have a limited amount of time a day. The end goal is to accomplish your task efficiently by way of optimal use of your time. If a particular task is taking too much of your time and it’s not the most important part of your work, delegating it to right people can help you overcome your ‘busyness’. Once you do this, ensure you trust the person and provide them enough room to get the job done. Using the right people, tools, and resources to is important in doing so.
Focus on being effective
Improve your overall quality, rather than trying to tick everything off your to-do list. It is important to understand when to say no by asking whether are these tasks necessary. If you say yes to everything, you find your schedules with things that keep you busy but don’t make you productive. Once you have set out to achieve your important tasks, ensure you say no to disallow things that hamper your productivity. Saying yes to the wrong things, even if they are small will eventually take up your time later on and add to your busyness’. Saying no to unimportant things will protect your time so that you can use it for the things that matter.
“If you want more time, freedom, and energy, start saying no.”
Schedule your day
Many of us spend much of our day on autopilot—not giving much thought to what we’re doing with our time. Because of this, it’s difficult to prevent the trivial from creeping into every corner of our schedule. But by scheduling your day, you can determine how many hours you’re spending in doing quality work.
Scheduling your tasks for the day helps you plan your work goals and removes the risk of losing out on important tasks. Doing this at the beginning of the day can get you more organised. If your schedule is disrupted, you should at the next available moment, create a revised schedule for the time that remains in your day. This will give you a careful gauge in your efforts and you can discover pockets of free time that go wasted.
Relax & Unwind
Unproductive ‘busyness’ often leaves you exhausted, bad tempered and stressed. You fail to gather momentum for next days’s work unless you recharge yourself. Once you are out of your working hours, inculcate unwinding yourself. The impact of unwinding is often underestimated and we fail to recognise that our minds need a downtime as well. Our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax says David Allen in his book “Deep Work”. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts organised can we achieve effective results and unleash our maximum potential. Mindfulness practice is a perfect antidote for ‘busyness.’ Taking some time to practice being in the moment helps you connect with your inner self and reduces feelings of tiredness and stress thereby creating space for you to become creative and productive.
Apply outcome thinking
You can’t really decide the right action until you know the outcome you’re after, and if your outcome is disconnected from reality if you are not clear about what you need to do to make it happen. Setting Goals or desired outcomes creates a cause-and-effect link in your mind about when certain goal-relevant actions will be taken. When you make plans ahead of time and decide what actions will be carried out, you can engage in doing productive work instead of being bogged down by unimportant tasks. Setting goals provides sufficient direction to move you toward your outcome rather than wasting your time in unproductive ‘busyness.’
Adopt next-action approach
Most of the times too many discussions in workplaces end with only a vague sense that people know what they are going to do. But without a clear decision that there is a next action, not much is accomplished. Forcing the decision about the next action prevents those issues that are important from slipping away thereby providing more clarity. Walking away from discussions with clarity of outcome makes each member involved in your discussions more responsible about the specific job assigned to them. This also reduces anxiety of undecided actions and increases your productivity.
Finally, Be willing to change your unproductive busy habits to do something more meaningful and productive work.
when you take up tasks, asking yourself,
“What does this mean to me” Or “ what’s the desired outcome?” “What are the pros and cons?” lets you identify things that aren’t necessary. This way you can align yourself to be productive instead of engaging yourself with everything that comes your way.
Are the tasks you are busy with right now add to your life’s purpose? Or are you being the victim of distractions and social trends? or can you find better and organised ways to do your tasks?
If you want to focus without distraction, achieve more in less time and be better at what you do, apply the above mentioned strategies. Getting past the unproductive busyness of your life not only helps you to become more productive but also provides a sense of fulfilment and gives your mind something to do meaningful.
Most of the times, we are open about our physical health, but how often do we seriously consider our mental well-being?
Many of us lead busy, often hectic lives, so it is easy to experience certain levels of stress and anxiety that have an adverse impact on our thoughts, efficiency, emotional well-being and overall health.
Thinking is basically a mental process; which helps one define, organise, plan, learn, reflect and create experiences. In-fact human beings think at the rate of 1300 to 1800 words per minute according to a study. This explains why our mind wanders even when we are listening to others. One’s mind has all kinds of fleeting thoughts passing at any particular time. Day to day stressors add on to the kind of thoughts we have and are also one of the reason of we having unpleasant and irrational thoughts that don’t serve us any purpose.
Thoughts on their own will not affect one’s destiny, but if one spends time dwelling upon the unpleasant thoughts, surely then they impact one’s life in every kind of way. The prolonged periods of unpleasant mental state can be detrimental to your mental health and hinder you from performing to your maximum potential. So a lot depends on your ability to think correctly in certain stressful situations and unexpected life situations. Correct thinking is only possible if done so consciously and on purpose. Most of the times it is your beliefs that influence how you think. When you hold on to certain beliefs that don’t serve your interest or values, they give rise to unpleasantness which in turn hurts your ability to be rational, happy and successful.
Your beliefs shape your thoughts
Your beliefs have an impact on how you think, feel and act most of the time. The emotions we feel and the behaviours that arise from emotions are due to the beliefs that we hold about ourselves, people and environment around. Our beliefs shape our interpretations and how we evaluate certain situations and occasionally, due to certain limited beliefs we hold of ourselves, our thoughts can be distorted, biased, or negative thereby giving rise to irrational thought patterns and negative moods.
Because of such irrational thought patterns, we interpret the facts through a distorted perspective and create the impression that imaginary scenarios represent actual facts. If you hold onto negative beliefs, you tend to worry about things that are unlikely to happen. Such biased thinking affects your communication with others, your emotional/ mental well-being as well as your perceptions. Inability to perceive reality accurately leads to errors in your thinking and causes cognitive bias. These biases make you think in a very exaggerated and irrational ways, causing fear, anxiety, and insecurity. Because one’s thinking is so firmly associated with one’s beliefs, it’s not easy to change one’s thinking pattern unless you put in the required work to reframe your limited beliefs.
So, how do you deal with your irrational thinking?
Our minds constantly create narratives as they are pattern making machines. We always like to process facts through our minds and build association that seem to have a logic or rationale behind them. In doing so, we become victims of certain beliefs that aren’t logical, rational, or accurate representation of facts. This is one of the reason why we think in an exaggerated and irrational way about ourselves at times by giving into our negative beliefs. In some ways, our brains get wired to make these errors every now and then making ‘distorted’ or ‘faulty’ thinking patterns.
It is possible to modify your irrational thought patterns by being able to recognise what you are perceiving, assuming, and expecting. Being aware of your irrational thoughts and learning to reframe or restructure them with rational thoughts can be helpful especially when you are in situations that cause anxiety or depression or stress. It is important to learn that situations are not always the cause of our irrational thinking, but it is the way we perceive and interpret the situations. Interpreting the relevant facts of the situation effectively to come to rational conclusions can help in eliminating some of your false assumptions about yourself.
By restructuring your thoughts and reframing the way you interpret a situation, you can deal with your irrational thoughts and slowly make progress towards rational thoughts that are more empowering.
How to reframe your irrational thoughts and limiting beliefs ?
The essential idea behind reframing is that a point of view depends on the frame it is viewed in. When the frame is shifted, the meaning changes and thinking and behaviour change along with it. Cognitive restructuring or reframing helps in observing, identifying and modifying irrational thoughts to rational thoughts and negative mental patterns to positive ones. By reframing, you can think constructively and can practice accurate thinking. You can reframe your limited beliefs to new beliefs that better serves you and your goals. Constructive reframing also helps in overcoming certain mood disorders, anxiety, stress or depression. It is about reorganising thoughts, ideas, awarenesses into correct perspective and putting them into practice. Here are some ways to practice cognitive reframing of your limited beliefs.
Familiarise yourself with cognitive errors
When you learn to familiarise yourself with certain errors in your thinking and cognitive biases, you can challenge your limiting beliefs and eliminate negative thoughts. Here are some examples of cognitive errors which leads to irrational thinking.
• Downplaying the importance of a positive thought or emotion or event thereby magnifying the negatives like “useless”, “ failure”, or “inadequate.”
• Drawing conclusions when there is little or no evidence or on the basis of perceptions and not on real facts.
• “Making mountain of a molehill” Blowing things out of proportion.
• Using words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘everyone’, ‘all’, ‘nobody’, etc.,
• Emotional reasoning – concluding that your emotional reaction proves something true, regardless of the observed facts.
•Perfectionism – Thinking that you always have to be perfect, sating “should”, or “ must.”
• Thinking there are only two possibilities, when there may be other alternatives you haven’t considered.
•Overgeneralisation – making conclusions based on a single event.
• Attributing personal responsibility for events which aren’t under your control.
• Thinking in extremes like “black-and-white” or “all-or-nothing thinking” (all good or all bad with no middle ground)
Practice noticing when you have these distortions in your thinking and ask yourself what other ways you could think. By being aware of these errors and reframing them can help you overcome your limited beliefs.
Identify the thoughts that are of wrong perceptions and assumptions. Sometimes emotions make it difficult for you to think logically. The beliefs that we hold change how we manage our day-to-day experiences. Examine what are your negative beliefs and which emotions are involved and question how valid they really are. By questioning your negative beliefs and looking for alternatives, you can replace thoughts led by fear with realistic and positive thoughts. Replace obstructive and limiting thoughts with positive and empowering thoughts.
Track the accuracy of a thought
Analyse what the pros and cons of your limiting thoughts and beliefs. Evaluate the evidence for or against your irrational thought. Examine the validity of irrational thoughts and beliefs by asking critical thinking questions like what’s the worst possible and what’s the best possible thing of that thought. Once you narrow down to your irrational belief, you can think of a way to reframe it into more accurate and positive belief. Do not make up super unrealistic beliefs, instead find more positive way to frame a belief without deluding the facts of the situation.
Apply alternative views
There are always multiple perspectives to any given situation or circumstance. When you restructure your beliefs, you can look at the same facts through a new perspective and interpret in a way that can keep you motivated. By changing your perspective, you can make out your previous thinking errors and can transform them into rational thoughts. This way, you can discover the best way to view a situation so that it brings out your best possible self.
Avoid using extreme language
Often while expressing a negative belief or thought, we use exaggerated words like “never”, or “always”, or “very” and we end up identifying with negativity in ourselves too strongly. Instead, you can replace them with “sometimes”, or “at times”, or a “little”. This way you can downplay the negativity by how you speak about these negative traits by describing them in less intense ways. This way you can leave more room for positivity, improvement, and change. Reframe the way you describe your experiences and memories.
Develop mindful awareness
Simple meditation practice can develop your awareness of negative and irrational thoughts. Focusing your attention on your breath allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind. Whenever you notice any irrational thought popping, gently bring your attention back to experiencing the sensation of your breathing. Meditation is a great way to train yourself to be mindful of irrational thoughts and beliefs.
Finally, set your own direction and evaluate your progress. There are many ways to reframe any particular situation. And the way you would want to reframe a situation depends on your current goals, values, decisions and choices you make.
Cognitive reframing of your negative beliefs is extremely effective if used properly and consistently. It can help you overcome your limiting beliefs to become happy and successful. Reframing your limiting beliefs takes time and effort to master, but once mastered, you can keep repeating this positive thinking pattern for better results that add value to your goals. Take time to learn how to change your thinking for better and go beyond your limited beliefs and preconceived assumptions. Always remember constructive thinking is a process, one gets better with practice and experience.
“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.”– Saadi
We are always taught different life lessons while growing up starting from how to tie our shoelaces to how to be a nice person. We all turn out to be pretty decent human beings. But when it comes to certain virtues like patience, we all seem to be lacking and struggle with. We always grow impatient in situations that we cannot control. Waiting always gets us worked up. Impatience always sets in when waiting in long lines, being put on hold, or interacting with disagreeable people. We also grow impatient on our road to change from bad habits or behaviour or recovering from illness or addictions.
So, What causes impatience?
Impatience is lack of patience,eager desire for relief or change; restlessness and intolerance of anything that thwarts, delays, or hinders. Technology and an increased access to information also has contributed to our impatience. In a world where we can access any information and order what we want within few seconds, patience can be hard to come by. We are so saturated and conditioned to having everything we need right at our fingertips with immediacy that we are no longer used to waiting. Pressure is always on us to attain certain goals, and with that comes the need to get things done in short amount of time. This instantaneous, the rapid, the quick, the get-it-done-right now kind of mindset makes us impatient.
Impatience can also be rooted back to certain underlying beliefs that we have about ourselves and the world around. Impatience can be caused by,
• Subconscious belief that you are not good enough or other self-limiting beliefs about yourself.
• Your inherent unhappiness with yourself and belief that you had to get to somewhere before you could be happy.
• Certain fixation with future on reaching a certain end goal or to achieve bigger visions, and accomplish more goals.
• Feelings of anger and frustration when things do not go as plan or your way.
• A great sense of urgency to get things over with and to move on to the next thing or task.
• Lack of present moment awareness and dwelling on future.
• Thoughts like “why is this slow?” or “what’s next.” would lead you to being impatient.
• When things get delayed or moving at slower pace than you want or the mindset of wanting everything right now.
Your expectations for immediate attention can negatively impact your productivity, patience and well-being. Studies reveal that higher levels of impatience cause major health conditions over time. Sometimes the urge to achieve your goals manifests into impatience causing annoyance at things standing in your way and gives rise to tension and fear-based emotions. Even though the negative effects of impatience cannot be observed immediately, but they slowly compound over time. It is only when you learn to be more patient that you can know the difference.
What is patience?
Patience is the capability to accept or tolerate delay or difficulties without getting angry or upset. It is a state of endurance under difficult circumstances.
Being patient gives you a feeling of equanimity, a calmness of mind that makes it easier to go through life’s ups and downs.
Why develop patience?
Sometimes the challenges make us vulnerable, possibly afraid, and we have knee-jerk responses to protect ourselves. These responses make an already stressful and unpleasant situation worse. You should learn to make a conscious effort to respond to such situations differently. Patience is the process of turning inwards towards your inner strength. It is strength to stay still with the vulnerable feelings and the restlessness rather than giving into the emotional urge to do something in reaction to what has triggered you.
It is important to develop patience as it increases feelings of happiness as well as reduces stress and anxiety. It also improves productivity because it creates a better and clear state of mind. Here is why you should develop patience.
With patience you can be persistent and stay on your goals for the long run. You don’t have to cut corners or do things in hurry, instead you can patiently work things out, do what needs to be done, and make things happen. You can commit to stay with what is right to achieve your goals.
To change yourself from bad habits, anger, and frustration, it takes time and if you have the patience, you can wait for yourself to get there. You build self-control to put up with situations that involve difficulties. It develops the capacity to tolerate annoyance, or pain, or irritation.
Sometimes you are met with certain obstacles. Such times, you don’t see things clearly because of impatience as it causes the feelings of self-doubt and decreases your confidence. Instead by being patient, you can gain clear vision of why something happened when it did.
Impatience makes you end up making poor decisions in order to get you to your desired goal quickly which can affect your health and your happiness. Whereas by not being stressed and anxious about something, you gain time to get clarity and can come to the best possible solution.
Being patient helps you to connect and engage with your feelings or emotions. Your acceptance of how you feel about a given situation and what you can realistically do about it grows. Your acceptance of self help you overcome negative emotions and behaviour.
How to practice patience?
To practice patience, external approaches like enforcing affirmations and regulation of breathing can be helpful. But to create a permanent change, you need to address the root cause by reflecting on your beliefs, thoughts and behaviour.
Here are some strategies to overcome impatience and to practice patience.
Identify impatient thought patterns
Notice when you are feeling rushed and stressed. This may be due to your unreasonable expectations or beliefs of needing everything now. Start by observing your patterns of impatience arising in your thoughts. Identify the triggers for such patterns like being put on hold, facing a long wait, figuring out a solution for a problem. By recognising the impatient mental patterns, you will be better able to accept them and can make a conscious effort to overcome such patterns by responding to them in a different way.
Keep your expectations realistic
Our expectations are often not realistic. For instance, while attempting to learn a new skill, we get impatient by thinking that we should be able to master new skill quickly. Keeping your expectations realistic and knowing them can help you build patience to achieve your desired goals. Understand that not everyone and everything runs on your schedule and other people and situations need not conform to your expectations. Be patient with situations that are not in your control.
Maintain a proper perspective
Practice the habit of maintaining a positive perspective, instead of dwelling on things that are making you impatient. shift your perspective to positive thoughts, affirmations and outcomes. The ability to reframe a situation by looking at it from a different and positive point of view makes any situation more tolerable and it provides you with the needed patience.
Practice slowing down
Because of impatience, you might resort to making poor decisions even though the odds are against your long-term success of achieving your goals. Slowing down can help you in making better decisions that are more likely to give you better results. Practice being mindful in your activities like walking slow, eating mindfully, incorporating a day of rest in your schedule as this can allow you to reflect and you can develop an attitude of gratitude.
Being compassionate helps you to see the circumstance for what it really is, and not how it appears to be or feels. Think of how you can be more compassionate in an impatient situation, or how you can transform the frustration into something useful for someone. This lets you see small things you otherwise would have taken for granted. This way you can focus onto something much more productive or useful for everybody.
Finally, Be mindful. Make conscious choice to pay attention to that which is going on in your field of awareness. Being mindful allows you to respond, not in anger, but instead with patience and it also helps in accepting things as they are. Being aware of your thoughts in the moment, you can remind yourself to be patient.
Patience is an important virtue to cultivate. You can build healthy mind, body, and healthy relationships. You experience less stress by learning to be patient with yourself. Remember that anything worth your while takes time and effort. So, don’t be discouraged or anxious if your progress is slow, remember that change is supposed to take time. Try to build the above mentioned strategies in your daily activities to grow more patient with yourself and with those around you.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
“What helps you persevere is your resilience and commitment.” -Roy. T. Bennett
We all undergo changes when we are exposed to stress or experience difficult and uncertain situations. Stress we experience affects us psychologically as well as physically. We all feel grief, sadness and range of other emotions after adversity or loss. They make us wonder which path to take, what decision to make, and at times they can be crippling if we are not resilient enough. Your thinking influences the way you show up and evaluate these situations. To work through the emotions and effects of stress in stressful events that you encounter, you need to keep yourself emotionally and mentally strong in such circumstances.
Resilience is the capacity to adapt yourself successfully in the face of uncertain and difficult situations. It is the ability to move through challenges and to adapt in order to create positive outcomes by responding effectively to stressful situations. Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress and pain, but it is the ability to harness your internal capacity to manage these life events as you process through them. By learning to be emotionally resilient, you can keep from negative emotions such as fear, or anxiety, or anger, or frustration that arise in such situations. Contrary to people’s belief, resilience is not an ability that you are born with. It can be learnt and built at any stage in your life. You can build resilience through better thinking and self-management skills.
What lowers your Resilience?
All of us experience times when we feel emotionally overwhelmed in certain situations and during such times, some of us allow our feelings to control our actions or we let negative emotions cloud our vision. This often makes us regret the things we say or do and wish we had been more resilient or had been able to keep our actions or words in check. Whereas some people deal with seemingly difficult situations more easily than others. Here are certain things that lower your resilience quotient.
• Inability to manage your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
• Excessive self-blame, regret and guilt.
• Non-willingness to face your fears.
• Giving into instant gratification instead of thinking long-term.
• Blaming your problems on external circumstances
• Focusing on things that are beyond your control.
• Inability to acknowledge your choices and taking responsibility.
• Inability to own your mistakes and to learn from them.
• Clinging to hatred, anger and resentment.
• Unwillingness to step out of your comfort zone.
To make yourself mentally strong in the face of obstacles, a lot depends on your confidence in your abilities to handle challenges and the way you evaluate these situations and events in your life.
So, how do you improve your Resilience quotient?
You can learn to habitually assess things from a different perspective by staying focused on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We all feel anxious when we are going through big life changes. To avoid negative emotions during such changes, you must prioritise self-care and celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are. Thoughts of self-doubt and self-criticism lower your resilience. On the contrary, every thought of self-appreciation can create more positive mental experiences. You can see yourself resilient and purposeful rather than as victim. There is little these stressors can do to you if you maintain good emotional and mental state by being aware of your emotional and psychological limitations.
Building resilience is an important part of growth and change. There are several ways to cultivate resilience. Here are some to raise your resilience quotient.
“ The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.” – Robert Jordan
In stressful situations, ego, fixed beliefs and expectations are some of the things that make us resist the change. It is often wiser to practice acceptance and acknowledge that such situations are demanding a course change. The only way forward is to go with the flow and adjust your attitude. Be flexible in your thinking and look for alternative solutions to the challenges you are faced with. A shift in your perspective can help you see the situation from a new point of view.
Being okay with discomfort
When we are going through uncertain events or situations, most of us feel insecure and unsure of ourselves. Difficulties take us out of our comfort zones making us uncomfortable. By facing your fears and by allowing discomfort amid uncertain circumstances, you can grow and become more emotionally resilient. Accepting despite the discomfort you feel, you can function relatively under pressure, cope better, and can bounce back from hard times. Learning to think and act from outside your comfort zones raises your resilience quotient and you can shrug off the harmful impacts of stress.
In difficult moments, it’s essential to practice self-compassion. Maintain your self-confidence rather being controlled by your self-critical voice which triggers discontentment and prompts you to be defensive and avoidant. Instead, by being self-compassionate, you can come up with coping strategies and begin to view your mistakes with understanding and patience. You are more likely to take responsibility for your part and focus on being compassionate towards the fears held by your inner critic. You can come up with constructive counters to your most destructive self-criticism and deeply held fears.
Develop a generally positive outlook when you experience challenges in your life. With a realistic and optimistic attitude, things turn out a little better than you might have presumed. Going through difficulties with a positive perspective, rather than giving into negativity of your past or people in your life makes you more open-minded, positive and resilient. Learn to view negative emotions that distress you in a positive light. By recognising uncertainty as an opportunity for growth, you can easily move through the obstacles. Acknowledge your strengths and maintain a positive view of yourself.
Many of us fear failure and avoid making certain choices in order to overcome challenges. As a result, we prevent ourselves from becoming more resilient. Treating failure like challenge helps you build challenge mindset. Reflecting on past challenges that you have overcome and other things you have been successful at, you can help raise your resilience quotient. By ruminating about what could go wrong builds your fear for failure. On the other hand, if you shift your mindset to view situations that you could fail at as a challenge, then you are more likely to think you are capable of handling difficult situations. You can learn to avoid overestimating the probability of negative outcomes and learn to view challenging situations not as a threat but as challenging and something to learn from.
The ability to think about future where you will no longer be feeling so bad about whatever you are struggling with helps you get through difficult experiences. It can reduce the intensity of negative emotions you are probably experiencing. When you are midst of a stressful situation, ask yourself as to how will you feel about the particular event in a year from now. Broaden your vision from future perspective and estimate how they might unfold into the future. This way you can build your resilience in the present moment.
Breaking your negative thought patterns
We come to believe that thinking about our hardships over and over again will help us solve them. When bad things happen, many of us get caught up in our negative thought patterns, instead of taking actions we need to move forward. When we believe the worst will come true, we set ourselves up for unnecessary stress and poor resilience. Break your negative thought patterns by focusing on something else or try to do something else that uses both your mind and body. Meditation or exercise are few methods to break your negative patterns.
Mindfulness and practising deep and slow breathing can help you take charge of your negative emotions and improve your response to emotional situations. When you observe negative thoughts, focusing on your breath allows you to become distracted from The automaticity of the feelings-thought-action cycle and bringing your attention back to your present moment. Being mindful positively affects thought patterns underlying anxiety, stress, depression and irritability. By accepting and letting go of these emotions, you will allow negativity to fade away often sooner than when you actually fight against them.
cultivate meaning and believe in your self to be resilient. Meaning and purposefulness gives you motivational framework to lean into and provides a positive perspective to remain open to life’s many experiences.
It is always important to remember that difficult situations make you more stronger and resilient. It’s what your mind makes of a situation and not the situation itself. So don’t waste energy wishing things were different or trying to change others people when going through stressful or difficult situations. Instead stay focused on managing yourself by keeping in mind the above strategies and make most of those situations by turning down your overly negative responses.
“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” – Gever Fulley