The attitudes that you have about yourself, others and the circumstances around you have a huge impact on your ability to be happy.
if you have a calm and rational attitude to all of those things then it stands to reason that you will be able to deal with any problems that occur without an overly emotional response.
1: Understanding that you are responsible for your emotions...
if you have read any of my previous blogs then you will have noticed that I make a big deal about what you think. This is because our thoughts affect our feelings which in turn affect our actions.
By understanding that our thoughts affect our feelings in any situation, we can learn to control our emotions.
Bad things happen to everyone. When something bad happens, it is perfectly normal to have a negative emotional response to the situation.
If you are in a car crash or going through a divorce or have lost someone then it makes sense to have negative thoughts about the situation because they are negative situations!!
BUT, taking responsibility for your emotions will help you to avoid making a bad situation worse. By taking responsibility for your emotions, it makes it so much easier to find solutions to the issues and strengthen our belief in our own ability to overcome adversity.
Good things also happen to everyone!! By taking responsibility for your emotions you can give yourself credit when something good happens as a result of your own efforts.
This allows you to appreciate good fortune without attributing it to luck, avoiding negative feelings that your luck may run out...
2: Flexible thinking
I have talked in previous blogs about cognitive distortions which are negative thinking patterns. These negative thinking patterns lead to negative emotions and therefore often lead to negative or damaging actions.
One of the most common cognitive distortions are thinking in terms of "should" or "must" or "have to".
Find out more about which cognitive distortions you do most often here.
This is what always concerns me about practitioners who push mindfulness rituals or create the idea that you have to live a certain way to be healthier, better or more successful.
The problem with thinking in this inflexible way is that it leads to feelings of irritation or depression or anxiety as it may be that you can't do those things within your reality.
The key to changing this mindset is to think flexibly, how can you adapt?
By accepting your reality and simply aiming to improve it where it is possible for you, you can develop much more positive and realistic attitudes to yourself.
Another approach to the "should" distortion is to consider what you want. do you want to achieve something? if so say you want to and ask how can I fit the practice necessary into my life?
2: Learn to tolerate uncertainty
Because I work with a lot of clients with anxiety, this is often an issue that I come across in clinic.
Many of my anxious clients spend a lot of time and energy trying to work out what the outcome of a situation might be. This is where we get cognitive distortions such as "what if" or "the worst thing will happen" or "bad things always happen to me" as a way of preparing for an outcome.
Given that nothing is ever certain, searching for certainty is only going to cause negative emotions that will result in stress and often inactivity or procrastination.
Ideally an attitude of calculated risk taking and experimentation will give you far more opportunity than simply avoiding those situations because of negative thoughts.
If you can accept that there is no certainty, you can stop trying to worry about predicting the future or planning for the worst case!!
This links in neatly with 1 and 2 as if we take responsibility for our emotions then even mistakes can have a positive outcome. If we can also adjust our attitude about what "should" be and think more flexibly then we can adjust to the outcome!!
Try changing one of these attitudes and see how you get on!! I would love to hear from you if you do...
To your best attitude,