Have you been told to just be positive?
In this episode I talk about positive and negative thinking. It's hard to be positive when things aren’t going how we hoped. So I wanted to unpick a little how these thought patterns may affect your emotions and behaviours around anything, but that we can relate to fertility.
I mention thoughts a lot, it’s a huge part of the work I've done on myself and with my clients.
We get so many thoughts throughout the day, some researchers report 60-80000 day, another reports 12,000 - 60,000 a day, either way it’s a lot . Interestingly the majority of them are the same thoughts you had the previous day.
Do we all get negative thoughts?
Most sources agree that about 80% of them are negative, but that doesn’t make everyone have a negative outlook does it? As I will continue to mention it's how we then react to the thought that is key.
Some people have a really positive outlook don’t they? Others the complete opposite, believe that certain things wont happen for them. Some of course sit in the middle, but is it the fear of either that keeps them there or are they just open to what may be?
Is it a fear of getting our hopes up, a fear of being disappointed, after all a pessimist is never disappointed, which takes my mind instantly back to the song by the Audience, see how thoughts just ping in and grab previous random long gong memories. That song was released in 1998, 21 years ago and with that a lot of memories came flooding in, wow. The brain is so incredible,
I think its quite British, to not get our hopes up and in many ways to look with suspicion to those who seem to be happy all the time.
the power of thoughts
There is so much evidence available to support the effects of a positive mindset and equally those of a negative one. The effect on many aspects of our life including health . Ghandi put it well when he said
“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” —
If we think for a moment about how powerful thoughts are, when you think back to a time when you were embarrassed, you recall the event and the experience and you may feel the same and even blush. When we think back to happy times we feel happy, maybe even smile.
Facebook memories are great for this, those little gems pop into your feed and evoke emotion. Equally when you think back to a sad event, its possible you will feel sad, and even cry or if you imagine the possibility of something bad happening you can feel that emotion as though it really is.
This is something I used to do a lot, after losing my dad at 16 and my mum at 22, I would catastrophise massively, and in no time if someone was late, in no time a fleeting thought could take a whole disastrous life of itself.
And, here’s the thing, your brain doesn’t know the difference between whats real and imagined, which is why visualisation can be so incredibly effective, this is a big part of what I did myself when trying to conceive, and now with my clients and, which I will return to in a later episode in more detail as it needs more time.
Can you change your thought?
So can we just change our thoughts, think positively all the time and hope in the end well start to believe it?
Well it depends, because are you really thinking positively? If so then absolutely, but if you are trying to think it but thinking something else, in contradiction, almost a conversation, or it evokes unpleasant feeling that intuitively don’t sit right then chances are it won't. It's the feeling, the emotions that accompany the thoughts that makes the difference.
So we can look at creating new thoughts? Well thought out affirmations that sit well and spark the right emotions can do this.
This is a big thing with affirmations and when working with clients, when looking at affirmations, its important that its something that they can feel comfortably about, we are developing beliefs, we are working on making changes via neuroplastisity within the brain, so it has to ease in in a way.
Perhaps a big bold “I will get pregnant” is a step to far, for many, so we need to tweak what the beliefs are we are trying to develop. We work with word like I trust, I feel etc.
But what about changing thought patterns. It’s hard to shift a negative thought into a positive, and often during your time trying to conceive and experiencing disappointment it hard to be positive. It seems so false and almost a false hope, a hope you daren’t allow yourself to feel.
But, There is a difference between being positive and not being negative. Sometime when we look to reframing our thoughts we can bring in a bridging thought. So when we use words like can’t shouldn’t wont, if it doesn’t sit right to change that to will, shall and can ,sometimes a simple reframe to I don’t know how to , but I will insert action to get you closer, it brings in a sense of openness I guess. Part of the work I do with thought management, is to encourage this sense of openness to the negative thoughts and ultimately a sense of letting go
Language is so key and a huge part of many talking therapies and studies, reframing and affirmations are incredibly effective. but its not always so easy to do that on your own, you may need some guidance through therapy or coaching.
One great play with language is the changing of the word yet in a sentence, It can completely redirect a thought process towards change. In a coaching session, someone may say, “no I haven’t done that yet”, the coach /therapist can rather than allowing the sentence to end there may add “you are open to it”.
“No I haven’t done that, yet I am open to it” a great tool to learn for yourself.
I haven’t started yoga, yet I am open to the idea.
It can be hard to believe a new thought, or even be open to it. The reason for this may be that there is a strong core belief.
A core belief is the essence of how we see ourselves, other people, the world and the future.
They develop over time, usually from childhood, believed to be by the age of 7 and many report them being through the experience of significant life events. But what is significant? We now know that they develop from messages received from your parents, siblings, teachers and peers. And these messages taught you something about yourself. So in this case whether you are shy, awkward or likeable, gave you a sense of who you are.
It can even be an overheard conversation relating that develops the belief. In terms of fertility, a young child may have set the belief that she will never have children after over hearing a conversation about a birth experience,
When playing with your dolls, a throw away comment about being a rubbish mum when you dropped the doll on its head, a belief that its just not worth trying something, a belief that good things only happen to other people.
And they can become activated in different situations
There’s no need to over analyse this here and now, I just want you to understand where these core beliefs may come from and how they can be shaping things, just develop a sense of openness to the thoughts.
I have to say when I did my hypnotherapy and mind coaching training, I spent a lot of time thinking of how my children were going to need help as adults. A simple comment can have such impact. In fact my son now 11 had some anxiety and low confidence issues for quite some time between the ages of 6 and 10. Prior to 6 he was the most confident of boys
I could work with him to support but you cant work with someone that close professionally, and also he’s a child. So we saw a child psychologist and she got uncovered that the loveliest, kindest, mild mannered teacher, completely out of character had one day raised her voice when he dropped a pencil and everyone looked at him and he was it turns out filled with shame and believed everyone thought he was stupid. Heart breaking to hear, but we know what we were working with
Your core beliefs about others, well, did your childhood teach you that its safe to trust people, that its good to help others or that people aren’t kind and not to be trusted?
What really interesting about core beliefs is that they play a part in self for-filling prophecies, back to the quote from Ghandi
“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” —
Because we believe something to be true, what we do is for evidence that supports it.
This evidence serves to support the belief, as it reinforces it
So for example, I’m not clever enough to go to university," you'll view each difficult question or low mark as proof of this
And if you do well on a test paper, you may be quite dismissive of it and put it don to luck, or the teacher being favourable
As a result your beliefs affect your behaviour: If you believe you aren't that clever, you perhaps won't put as much effort into your studies, and as a result you won't perform well.
The good news is that these limiting beliefs can be unlearned, it’s another example of the need to rewire.