Struggling to stay positive? These simple and realistic tips could make all the difference...
When you're going through a difficult or stressful time, a positive mindset is invaluable.
If you can approach any situation with an optimistic lens, it can make it so much easier to stay positive when things get tough, but we all know taking the glass-half-full approach is not always easy.
That's why we spoke to an accredited Irish Association of Counselling Psychotherapy (IACP) therapist, Linda Breathnach, to put together some top tips for achieving a more positive mindset.
And if you want to learn a little more about the subject, the latest episode of the IACP's podcast series, Essential Conversations with IACP, focuses in on the importance of mindset. In the episode, Linda joins Trisha Lewis of Trisha's Transformation on the IACP's podcast for an episode all about the importance of a positive mindset, which you can listen to HERE.
In the mean time, here are Linda's top tips for achieving a more positive mindset...
1. Separate thoughts and feelings
Linda says our feelings are always valid but our thoughts can be inaccurate, which can lead us to being too harsh on ourselves.
"Our thoughts can lead to our feelings or come from our feelings but they can be untrue and not based in fact. For example, we might feel insecure or not good enough because we are trying something new for the first time and this feeling is valid. However we might have thoughts such as 'There’s no point in trying', 'I am never going to be good enough', 'The others are much better than me', and these thoughts can be misguided.
"It can be helpful to challenge these thoughts but validate the feelings, it is ok to feel “not good enough” when you’ve never done something before but it doesn’t mean you aren’t actually good enough," she says.
2. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend
We can be our own worst critics and we're often not as kind to ourselves as we are to others, Linda says, which could be contributing to you feeling low.
"I meet so many people who wouldn’t talk to their worst enemy the way they talk to themselves internally. People often think you need to be selfish to engage in self-care. I often have to clarify that self-care doesn’t mean putting yourself first but it involves prioritising yourself equally as much as you would a friend or family member etc. It means not putting yourself last!"
3. If you think someone's judging you, challenge those thoughts
When we try to guess what other people think of us, Linda says our imagination can often be influenced by a critical view that we have of ourselves, which may not be accurate.
"When I hear clients say phrases like 'People might think...' or 'Everyone is going to say...', I challenge this. What is the evidence for this belief? Have you heard somebody say what you are worried they might say?
"When we stay with it and are really honest with ourselves, often we realise that the person who is judging us is ourselves. We tell ourselves we are trying to imagine what other people might think or say but that’s the point, it’s our imagination and it is often influenced by a critical view that we have of ourselves, not the view of others."
4. Be careful with comparing yourself to others
Whether it's friends, family members, colleagues or complete strangers on social media, we're all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. If these comparisons are getting you down, Linda says challenging these comparisons and separating thoughts from feelings can help here too.
"Ask yourself, are you really comparing like for like? If your exam result is less than the friend you are comparing with, did you both have the same circumstances leading up to this exam? Have you got the same interest in this subject? Did your week go as well as the other person? Do you have the same support as this person?"
5. Anger, sadness and disappointment are all normal emotions
Having a positive mindset does not mean you'll always feel positive. Linda says this misconception can lead some people to feel worse when they experience normal human emotions such as anger, sadness, hurt or disappointment.
"Having a positive mindset involves thinking positively about these uncomfortable emotions. It means giving yourself permission to find things tough but trusting that it is not permanent, it is a temporary experience and you won’t feel like this forever. Feelings are not facts and they are never permanent but they are always valid. Allow them and they will ease."
Find an accredited Irish therapist today at iacp.ie