How to Have a Positive Mindset

Corona virus has impacted our mindsets; both negatively and positively. For most of us we have had a mixture of the two states as a result of the pandemic. To be able to move forward whether post pandemic, in this new normal, or to succeed at our goals more generally we need to have a positive mindset.

When our regular routine and normality is whipped away from under us, rather like a magician pulling away a silk cloth to reveal the void beneath, we can feel confused and lost not knowing how to think or behave positively.

It is understandable to disappear into a state of anxiety and worry during a pandemic. We essentially enter into the survival state if we feel there is a risk to our safety. This activates out sympathetic nervous systems which means we prepare for flight or fight. If our minds perceive the risk of the illness as a threat then our bodies will act as if we need to avoid that threat. We are trying to flee the threat and survival is the only important thing. We are not focused on bettering ourselves.

A positive mindset can be built by changing behaviours.

Being able to access what we need to feel better about ourselves can be tricky in these circumstances. Our behaviours, thoughts and feelings all impact one another and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focuses on changing behaviours to influence our thoughts. It really is worth trying something different just to see what happens.

Behaviours are easier to change than thoughts. Do the forma and allow the latter to follow.

Positive Mindset
Photo: Viktor Forgacs

Try an experiment with yourself. Alter your behaviour and see what happens.

My sister has been shielding throughout lockdown due to a medical issue. This is what she did to take control over her thoughts, and her lockdown life, resulting in 16lbs of weight loss in less than 3 months.

“When I was told I had to shield for the minimum of 12 weeks (due to having no spleen) I initially felt a bit scared, worried, and pretty negative. After a week of eating rubbish and not moving off the sofa, I knew I had to turn this experience into a positive one or my mental health would spiral downwards. I made a decision to look at this as an opportunity to better myself.”

She changed her behaviours which impacted her thoughts positively.

“I started eating healthily and literally after one day, my mindset was so much stronger, and the feeling it gave me encouraged me to carry on. I then joined an online fitness group, this was one of the best decisions, as I couldn’t leave my house to run as I normally like to do, the home workouts improved my mental health massively. The feeling of confidence, fulfilment and happiness really kept me going and I felt so positive.

Focus on the positive thoughts that our behaviours have created and it is more likely we will keep going (even when things get difficult).

“I did have low days when I felt I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, one of these days being towards the end of lockdown when I struggled to see when I, being on the extremely vulnerable list would ever go back to normality. After a little cry and time reflecting on things and talking my way to positivity, I drew a line and came back stronger. I always remind myself how fortunate I am and how I could be in far worse situations. I believe the low, negative days are actually equally as important to the happy, positive days as it puts everything in perspective and every emotion is as important as the other. For me, it’s about picking myself up mentally and taking small steps forward, no matter how small, they soon add up to huge steps.”

Successful people tend to have had more failures but they focus on the positive.

To be successful at something we have to have opportunities to learn, otherwise known as mistakes. Prochaska and DiClemente’s Cycle of Change Model shows how we can learn from our failures and spiral upwards rather than disappearing into a hole because we have had a blip. My sister has discovered this for herself; she allows acknowledgement of the bad as well as the good aspects of what is going on. By having acceptance of where you are and giving acknowledgment to a particular feeling you are able to move back to a positive mindset more quickly.

My sister continues “Feeding my body with healthy food most definitely helps with having a healthy mind, I still enjoy the odd Twirl, (I’m also Coeliac so one of the Cadbury’s chocolate I can enjoy) so have these a couple of times a week! This experience is teaching me that ‘mind over matter’ is so true and a positive mindset literally helps in all aspects of life, from thinking ‘oh I can’t be bothered to go upstairs to get that… no, just go get it now’ to how I communicate with my children, they know l’m a ‘half glass full’ person! I have discovered that the brain really is the most powerful organ in our body and now I know how to keep it healthy and positive, I will continue to do so. I will always remember ‘my lockdown’ as a positive part of my life.”

We all have negative automatic thoughts that pop up during our day to day living. When we ignore the unwanted thoughts and behave in a way that supports our goals we impact our thoughts and our feelings. My sister made a conscious decision to ignore them; the anger, the frustration, the fear threat arose from having to shield. We are all capable of learning how to do this.

For some people it is more of a struggle to disconnect from the negative thoughts to create a positive mindset.

I see many people who are wanting to move away from a behaviour or a feeling and to achieve a goal. During lockdown clients have continued to come to Amy for help with anxiety. This emotion escalated due to impact of Corona Virus.

One explained “I have lost my set of tools that keep me well.” This person’s external activities felt key to a healthy mind so we had to find new ways for their subconscious to create that positive mindset within the circumstances. A middle aged client had recently lost their direction in life and had become negative and down. The Covid-19 lockdown meant that they had space and time to explore and discover who they actually are, be present to all feelings and how best to create positivity in general. Another had Obsessive Compulsive thoughts that were a way of trying to make the situation ‘right again’. Ironically the need for control over Covid-19 by monitoring and counting their thoughts was exasperating the feeling of being out of control. What they really yearned for was freedom. The hypnosis helped to change the behaviour to impact the feelings and to ignore the false thoughts.

We all want to feel safe as humans and what that is varies from person to person. It is ok to have support to achieve your own positive mindset. For those who are a glass half empty person they are used to traveling down well-trodden negative neural pathways. Hypnotherapy helps you to change this from your subconscious through to your conscious mind.

Amy works online via video call at present, and from 1st September 2020 is planning to offer in person sessions again too.Amy uses tailored CBT, NLP and Clinical Hypnotherapy techniques to help you to have the positive mindset you want. Get in touch via email or phone for more information or to book your free 30 minute discovery session.