Anxiety has a genetic component. As a result, there are going to be some aspects of anxiety you may never be able to fully control. Anxiety is a natural behavior – a “fight or flight” response that’s designed to keep you safe from harm. It’s impossible to completely turn off this experience without putting yourself at risk – you want to be afraid when you need to be afraid, otherwise you’ll put yourself in dangerous situations without any thought to the risk.
But other anxiety – negative anxiety – that type of anxiety can absolutely be controlled. One of the main causes of excess anxiety is negative thinking. The world has turned men and women into cynics, when the truth is that there is ample reason to be fulfilled by what the universe has to offer. That negativity turns into negative thoughts, which eventually becomes the type of anxiety that affects your quality of life.
Becoming a Positive Person
That’s why learning to become a positive person and embracing happiness instead of negativity has such a profound effect on your ability to cope with negative thoughts and find contentment in the world around you. Becoming a positive thinker takes some time and effort, but with commitment you can change your brain chemistry into one that finds the redeeming qualities out of even the toughest situations. For those that are ready to embrace positive thinking, here are five simple strategies that can make an incredible difference:
- Faking Positivity
We’re trained to behaviorally respond to life’s events in a negative manner. It’s hard to turn this off, since it’s a reaction. An event happens, and you see and act negative, because that’s what your mind and body know how to do. No matter how motivated you are, it can be hard to become positive on a whim. What you can do is fake positivity. No matter how negative you may feel, pretend to be positive as though it doesn’t bother you – even though you know it does. Doing so trains your mind into how you’re supposed to be acting, and over time you’ll end up adopting that fake persona. It’s why there are actors that develop anxiety problems after pretending to be someone with anxiety, or develop phobias after feigning being afraid of something on film. The mind is funny that way.
- Surround Yourself with Positive People
One of the most important changes you can make is to surround yourself with positive people. Negative thinking and cynicism are contagious. When the minds of your friends always focus on the negative, your mind will have a problem seeing events any other way. Luckily, positivity is also contagious, but only if you surround yourself with those that think positively, and let that positivity influence your thoughts and behaviors.
Exercise may not seem at first glance to be a contributor to positive thinking, but the truth is that exercise is incredibly powerful. Exercise changes your brain chemistry by releasing endorphins which have an incredibly positive affect on your mood. It also burns up stress hormones – hormones that often create negative thinking. Finally, exercise is a valuable tool for overall wellness, including how you socialize, stay active, and how you feel about yourself. Exercise can genuinely create real positivity, and has added health benefits as well.
- Forced Positive Writing
Faking positivity is not the only way to train your brain to think more positively. Another powerful way is to teach your brain how to find the positives in things that were otherwise stressful or negative. For example, let’s say you have a public speaking engagement and you do not do the best job. You say “um…” too often or you forget your words, or you speak too quietly, etc. Often the mind has a tendency to focus on these flaws. Instead of focus on them, write down 10 to 20 genuinely positive things to come from the event. Be as specific as possible. There are always positive things to come from every activity, no matter how stressful it may have been. Eventually your brain will start to try to find these positive things all the time, so that you can always have things to write about.
Finally, when you do have some free time or you’re looking for beneficial activities, find ways to laugh. Stand up comedy shows (despite the negativity in much of the humor) are a fantastic way to get out and laugh whenever you have a free moment. Watch comedies on television or spend time with your humorous friends. Laughter is the enemy of negativity, and an amazing way of reducing the lasting effects of issues that cause anxiety.
Creating a Positive Mindset
Positivity is one of the most amazing sensations, and one that makes every day more enjoyable. You will never be able to control your anxiety entirely, and you don’t want to, because anxiety is a helpful tool for keeping yourself free from harm. But you can control how and when that anxiety affects you, until you’re able to cope with the stresses of daily life and find contentment in those things that used to trouble you.
About the Author:
Ryan Rivera suffered not only from extensive anxiety, but also a profoundly negative mindset that made it hard for him to cope with the stresses of life. Now he lives generally anxiety free, and writes about anxiety and panic attacks for others at www.calmclinic.com.