Self-Actualization: How negative thoughts can affect your work and life.

I am at a turning point in my life where I need to re-assess my character. A ‘rebirth’ would be an accurate description. The theme of this rebirth is self-actualization.

changedwoman

Let me explain. I am a pessimist who often is unable to think positively about certain situations or circumstances. I have constant anxiety about attaining goals that I have I set for myself. However,  I have recognized that this is an extremely detrimental trait.

Believing in yourself is an important attribute. This builds confidence and makes your aspirations seem more attainable.  I used to live by the mantra ‘fake it till you make it’. It simply means that if you do not have the confidence to do something, pretend that you do until you become confident.

Fakeittillyoumakeit

Fake it till you reach a point where you are no longer consciously forcing yourself to fake anything. You simply exude confidence without trying.  It is a mantra that has served me very well but, past experiences have knocked this attitude out of me. I have very little confidence about what I have to offer. HOWEVER! I now understand something very important and I would like to share it.

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
– Willie Nelson

This revelation might seem more obvious to some but I never understood until now, how negativity can impact your life. It had reached a point where I was being negative about every opportunity that came my way, without even realizing. When I searched on the wide web for a deep understanding, I came across a scientific article that explained this phenomenon.

A study in the Journal of clinical Psychology investigated how stress and worry affect a person’s ability to perform certain tasks. In this study, participants were asked to sort objects into specific categories. The results showed that those who had reported being worried 50% of the time, had increased difficulty when completing the task.

When the brain is faced with complex tasks, negative thinking hurts your ability to process information and think clearly. You might as well throw your whole brain away!

throwbrain

There is scientific evidence to support this finding. The Brain is ‘plastic’ meaning that it can change and grow to create new neural pathways during our lifespan. A study of London taxi cab drivers showed that due to the demands of learning a complex amount of information and geography, the size of grey matter in their brains grew.

To those who are not familiar with neural pathways or the inner workings of the brain, a neural pathway is simply a connection between nerve cells (neurons) that communicate via synapses. The more these neurons communicate then the stronger the neural pathway becomes. The pattern of neural activity that is formed can actively change your neural structure.

This applies to thoughts as well. Every time you think the same negative or positive thought, it deepens the neural pathways in the brain. This intensifies and establishes habitual thinking. The reality of struggling with negative thoughts is that your brain, overtime has been molded by the habit of negativing thinking.

If you only think negative thoughts about your abilities, goals, plans for the future, and opportunities, then it is less likely that you will put any effort into attaining what you want. What is the point of trying if failure is certain? Here’s the catch though… nothing in this world is certain.

Positive thoughts exude positive energy. The more positive you are about the goals you want to achieve, the more likely you will put energy and effort into making them come true. When you believe in your dreams, they can become a reality. I used to think this was false hope. If you have no expectations then you are less likely to feel crushing disappointment.

The ability to rewire your brain – it is possible, it will take conscious and repeated effort to form new neural pathways break the negative thinking cycle. However, in doing so we can reshape our outlook on life!

I watched a video recently on the SelfishBabe app. It spoke about the idea of being ‘planted’ much like a seed growing in soil. When facing times of darkness, where nothing seems to be going right. Instead of wallowing in negative thoughts and worries. See the darkness as an opportunity to grow. Surround yourself with positive thoughts, visualize where you want to be & where you are growing. In doing this, you can emerge and see yourself in a new light.

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Now I want to challenge not only myself but anyone who is reading this, to live by the words of the musician B. Harris “Speak your reality into existence. It’s not false hope or daydreaming. It’s self-actualization.”

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