Accentuate The Positive – Day 237 of 365 Days to a Better You

Some 2500 years ago the Buddha, as recorded in the Dhammapada, is said to have articulated the following.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: we are formed and molded by our thoughts. (Verse 1)

Whatever harm an enemy may do to an enemy, or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind inflicts on oneself a greater harm. Neither mother, father, nor any other relative can do one greater good than one’s own well-directed mind. (Verses 42-43)

The Buddha’s meaning is quite clear. He was among the earliest to say something along the lines of, “You become what you think.” Then he goes further. He tells us that no outside force can do us as much harm or good as our own thoughts.

This begs the question, “Who controls your thoughts?”

That ought to be 100 percent of time Y-O-U.

The equation is simple from here. Badly as we might want to shift the blame to other people, God, or society; you control your thinking and your thinking dominates your life. I say dominates rather than controls because there are circumstantial exceptions, but not many.

So, what you’re feeling, what you’re attracting, where you’re stuck all follows a straight line back to your thinking. There’s just no way around it.

This isn’t a blame game. I’m not telling you this so you can feel worse about yourself or become defensive. I’m telling you this because your thinking has led you to where you are as surely as the earth follows the sun. If you want to change your circumstances, you will have to change your thinking.

It’s not a replacement for faith or a support system, but those can only help you when you’re thinking is leading the way forward.

Power hack: Accentuate the positive…eliminate the negative.

You may have heard the old 1940s sing titled Accentuate The Positive. The lyric goes, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…” It’s simple, but profound advice.

When you feel down, depressed, beaten, you can get stuck in an eddy of negativity and there seems like no way out. One negative thought follows another and you start buying into all of it.

When you’re feeling that way, you’ve megadose the positive. Force feed it. Flush out the negative with the positive. Let the sunshine dissipate the clouds. Don’t complain about the clouds. Summon the sunshine.

Easy? No, it’s hard. It sometimes takes every ounce of strength and you may feel oddly attached to your wallowing, but I assure you you can pull yourself out of that ditch when you understand your thoughts don’t just happen.

My wife shared something funny and inspiring today. She follows Rachel Hollis and she now has a tattoo that reads, “Embrace the suck.”

Sometimes we have to do hard things and it sucks. Climbing back to your best self when it’s easier to stay down is hard. But, you are a one-in-a-trillion miracle and totally with that effort.

You’re all the best! Thanks for stopping by and spending your valuable time with me!

Ray

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Break Through – A Poem – The Affirmation Spot for Sunday January 23, 2011

I began this poem in 1993 and finished it in 1997. It describes a transformation from disappointment and heartache to selfhood. I hope you enjoy. Would love to read your comments.

Stay inspired!

Ray

“BREAK-THROUGH”

Free now of all reveling
in unimportant things.
Fraught with expectations
full of broken dreams.

Moving right ahead now
with visions grandiose.
Summoning the courage
to conquer all my ghosts.

Knowing in the fullness
of the days that are to come;
my obstacles will fall away
and my fears shall be undone.

Mindful in this moment;
connected to my fate.
My sense of separate self
begins to dissipate.

Dissolving now completely
into the cosmic whole.
All enters my awareness
I reach my final goal.

Knowing for the first time
who I truly am.
I am Universal Mind
and it is but a man.

Sun and Rain in Our Lives – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday May 8, 2010

Today’s Affirmation:

“”I am in touch with nature. Every day I feel my feet touch the earth. I feel the wind fill my lungs. I feel the water bring life to every cell of my being. I feel the warm sunshine on my face. I am in touch with nature.”
(Click the affirmation to hear the mp3 version)

silouette_ocean_horizon.jpg It is a beautiful day, a day of hope for the future; a day of limitless beginnings. For your life is like a garden, you must plant it and tend it before the harvest comes. You must nurture the garden of your life as you go; weeding it of old destructive patterns of thought and action. Making sure it receives the love and care necessary for its growth and ultimately its blossoming.

As with any garden, there must come times of sunshine and times of rain. Both must be if the garden is to succeed and flourish. Conventional wisdom claims that joy is easier to find in the proverbial sunshine than in the proverbial rain.

I have found, however, that when I accept the necessity of the rain, stand in it willingly, and understand its nature and purpose; it can be even sweeter than the sunshine.

The sunshine is the provider of life, doing its work over long hours, days, and weeks. Without it, there is no life. The rain, by contrast, is an occasional visitor. It appears in short increments, but is the source of rapid growth. It brings newness to all it touches.

So keep in mind that if today brings a little rain into your life, it’s OK. The sun will return soon enough. It is right behind the clouds. For today, stand strong, give yourself to the rain, and grow grow grow!

Get inspired!

Ray
http://www.theaffirmationspot.com

Accept The Rainy Days – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday November 4, 2009

Check Out Our Cool New Affirmation Apps:

Check out our new affirmation apps for Apple devices or search i-mobilize on the iTunes store. The Affirmation Spot is developing these motivation apps in partnership with i-mobilize. Click an app to view it – Love Magnet, Sales Booster, Confidence Affirmation, or Full Body Scan.


 

silouette_ocean_horizon.jpg

It is a beautiful day, a day of hope for the future; a day of limitless beginnings. For your life is like a garden, you must plant it and tend it before the harvest comes. You must nurture the garden of your life as you go; weeding it of old destructive patterns of thought and action. Making sure it receives the love and care necessary for its growth and ultimately its blossoming.

As with any garden, there must come times of sunshine and times of rain. Both must be if the garden is to succeed and flourish. Conventional wisdom claims that joy is easier to find in the proverbial sunshine than in the proverbial rain.

I have found, however, that when I accept the necessity of the rain, stand in it willingly, and understand its nature and purpose; it can be even sweeter than the sunshine.

The sunshine is the provider of life, doing its work over long hours, days, and weeks. Without it, there is no life. The rain, by contrast, is an occasional visitor. It appears in short increments, but is the source of rapid growth. It brings newness to all it touches.

So keep in mind that if today brings a little rain into your life, it’s OK. The sun will return soon enough. It is right behind the clouds. For today, stand strong, give yourself to the rain, and grow grow grow!

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

Affirmations Under Fire: A Response – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday June 8, 2009

Ray’s Daily Affirmation:

“Focus on the goal…When I set out to achieve something I eliminate all the negatives and naysayers and focus completely on my goal.”
(Download this mp3 affirmation or 100s of others at The Affirmation Spot)





depressionRecently, a study questioning the validity of affirmations (“positive statements”) was published in Psychological Science. The paper entitled “Positive Self-Statements: Power for Some, Peril for Others” was co-authored by Dr. Joanne Wood, Elaine Perunovic, and John W. Lee.

Today I am going to share my own thoughts on this research and would invite mental health professionals, people in the coaching and self-development fields, or ordinary readers who have used affirmations to comment on the topic.

The researchers conducted a study based on the following premise from their paper’s abstract.

Positive self-statements are widely believed to boost mood and self-esteem, yet their effectiveness has not been demonstrated. We examined the contrary prediction that positive self-statements can be ineffective or even harmful. A survey study confirmed that people often use positive self-statements and believe them to be effective.  

Two experiments showed that among participants with low self-esteem, those who repeated a positive self-statement (‘‘I’m a lovable person’’) or who focused on how that statement was true felt worse than those who did not repeat the statement or who focused on how it was both true and not true.

Among participants with high self-esteem, those who repeated the statement or focused on how it was true felt better than those who did not, but to a limited degree. Repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, but backfire for the very people who ‘‘need’’ them the most.

I am always shocked and dismayed by the cynicism that emerges when the subject of positive thinking comes up. This research certainly seems to have awakened a cadre of bloggers and journalists ready to pounce and denounce positive thinking as a sham. I have written often on this blog about the constant stream of disempowering messages that some in media like to produce. I have also written about the whole concept that somehow positive thinking is perceived as less “realistic” than negative thinking. Both of these factors seem to be in play as this story unfolds.

Let me begin by expressing my alarm, not at this study or its results, but at the way it has been heralded in the mainstream and psychological press as empirical evidence that positive thinking is a fraud. Those 20 year old images of Stuart Smalley have been dusted off and pushed front and center to ridicule the practice of thinking positively.

Oprah, Wayne Dyer, and other luminaries in what I would term the “empowered thinking” movement have been chided for their support of such nonsense. Their statements that we human beings are capable of amazing things when we change the way we think have been taken to task as fantasy.

Some Examples of the typical media fair:

Worst of all, people suffering from depression and other negative thinking disorders have been told that thinking positively is bad for them and it should be avoided because it will make them feel worse.

I have been in contact directly with Dr. Wood. It is my belief that she and her colleagues are trying to conduct honest research and find honest answers to honest questions. After reading and digesting the paper that resulted from their research, I am convinced that the flaw lies not in the researchers’ intentions, but in the selected methodology. Dr. Wood, based on her writing, agrees that specific statements may have more efficacy than the general “I am lovable” statement used in the experiments that led to the paper.

“Moment by moment, brick by brick, I am building a life full of things more important to me than my problems.”

This topic is very near and dear to my heart. I don’t speak as an outsider on the topics of affirmations or severe depression. 20 years ago, at the age of 25, I nearly died due a severe depression and undiagnosed Addison’s Disease. The fact is I should have been dead. My electrolytes were below levels capable of supporting life. I had eaten nothing and drank little for weeks and I was down to 96 pounds. My father had to carry me into the hospital emergency room. Every cell in my body hurt and I wanted to die to escape the pain – physical and psychological that I was feeling.

Affirmations were an absolute mainstay in my climb from that deep, dark place. They remain a key part of my success today.

optimismWhen I encounter someone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or other difficult life situations; it’s not theoretical to me. I understand what they are going through. I know the struggles I had for years after that hospital visit. I know the hard work and determination it took to change my thinking and change my life. My passion is to help people who suffer from these conditions to get better and live the life they came here to live.

That’s why I started The Affirmation Spot. That’s why I spend a couple of hours every day tweeting affirmations for people on Twitter. That’s why messages of disempowerment and “you can’t” being delivered by the media and mental health professionals bother me so much. I know it feels like you can’t sometimes, but you can! It’s not hyperbole, magic, or a scam. It’s the truth. I did it and so can you!

I applaud Dr. Wood and her colleagues for tackling this topic and attempting to put science behind what my experience and that of so many others clearly demonstrates.

However, the study failed to grasp the process required for affirmations (“positive statements”) to impact the thinking of a depressed person. Subjects were questioned about their mood during the cognitive dissonance that is always sure to occur during an attempt to shift thinking. I know this personally, as I have encountered it many times. In fact, every time I use affirmations to pursue some new goal I encounter cognitive dissonance.

The research apparently took place in a single instance. Affirmations take time, repetition, belief, and commitment to impact and replace negative thinking. There is no evidence that study participants had any commitment to change their feeling of “not being lovable” by use of the affirmation. They certainly did not have time for repetition to have its effect.

The measurements in this study were akin to measuring the muscle growth of someone after one workout in the gym.

As someone who turned my life around using affirmations and other tools and now works to help others do the same, I can state that this research is preliminary, incomplete, and far from conclusive.

My view is that the research should continue and that a methodology conducive to a true study of this question should be devised to examine the validity of these findings. I suggest the following criteria as a starting point.

  1. Clinical Trial – conduct a real clinical trial using real psychological patients rather than grad students. There should be a controlled group or perhaps even a comparison against other treatment options.
  2. Decision – participants should be people with a a commitment to changing their negative beliefs, thoughts, and habits. Affirmations are just wishful thinking without a decision to change. Without this commitment, neither affirmations nor most other treatment courses will work.
  3. Time – affirmations are just like an exercise program. It takes time for the results to be seen. The affirmations have to be used, as with any other treatment, over a period of time and progress in mood and behavior monitored for positive change.
  4. Targeted Change and Affirmations – both the thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors to be changed must be identified and affirmations specific and appropriate should be used. “I am lovable” is a nice sentiment, but a a weak affirmation to produce real change. The goals to be achieved, obviously, have to be realistic.
  5. Multiple Content Types – The affirmations should be delivered audibly, verbally, and visually to account for varying learning styles. I also recommend what I call holographic affirmations – first person, second person, and named affirmations. First person affirmations are said to obtain ownership of the affirmation. Second person affirmations are used as thought replacement because the overwhelming majority of negative thoughts come into our minds as “you” statements. Name affirmations get the person’s attention by using the sweetest sound in the language – their name – as a cue.
  6. Reinforcemnt – progress must be reinforced to solidify the positive, empowered thinking we want to achieve. There are a lot of competitors to fill the voids of our thoughts and emotions media, family, religion, government, etc. If we are not encouraging and reinforcing the thoughts of our choosing, someone else will fill that void. That is how most people wound up being LSE in the first place. They listened to others about how they should feel and think about themselves

This study and the media feeding that has followed leaves millions of depressed people with the impression that thinking positive, empowering thoughts is not a viable solution for them. I am living proof that this is not so.

The idea that these people should be left to wallow in the realism of their depressive thoughts is a sad and unwarranted message. Yes, change is hard, but change is part of human potential. To tell someone obsessed with negative thoughts that thinking better thoughts is “dangerous” or “fruitless” (as many articles about this study have) is the height of irresponsibility.

I would hope that this research continues along the lines described above and that studies measuring the true efficacy of affirmations as a tool can be conducted. 20 years of my life and my interactions with many, many people tell me that such research will demonstrate that sensible positive thinking is an option and a way to the light for those suffering, as I once did.

In closing, I have one simple question. Regardless of the situation you are facing in life, are you going to have better results facing it with the burden of negative thoughts or with the empowerment of positive thoughts? The answer is clear. Positive thoughts are not the enemy. Negative thoughts are the problem. We need to keep that in perspective.

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

Manipulation of Attention Technique – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday June 6, 2009

Today I am posting a nice video I found on YouTube. It focuses on a technique the presenter calls Manipulating Attention Technique. He does a nice job of describing the attention shifting process.

He is particularly talking to folks with panic disorders or people with highly negative thoughts. However, it is a very effective technique for anyone – people striving for success, but encountering doubts, athletes, or anyone who encounters negative thoughts.

It also works very well in concert with affirmations. Affirmations can help you reduce the frequency and intensity of the negative thoughts over time, while this technique helps you deal with them in the heat of a given moment.

Stay inspired!

Ray

http://www.theaffirmationspot.com

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

60% Say Depression Likely – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday October 8, 2008

“Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy.”
~ Brian Tracy

A weekend CNN Poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe a 1930s style depresssion is “somewhat likely” or “very likely”. As we enter the troubled financial waters ahead, we really need to watch our thoughts.

Remember the power of our thoughts can work for our benefit or our detriment. Our mental expectations can worsen an already difficult situation, if we are not careful. Certainly, we do not want to become delusionally positive and pretend there are not issues. That approach denotes the downside to positive thinking.

Rather, we need to keep our wits about us and remain calm. There are always opportunities for growth and advancement in any situation. There are lessons to be learned that may benefit us greatly down the line.

Most of all, we need to visualize a better outcome than depression. If our minds begin to settle on that outcome, we will find a way to make it come true. Beware of attempts to plant those kinds of images in your mind.

“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt

If we believe a depression is on the way, we will have a depression. If we are focused on bringing about something more positive, that is what we will experience.

Our thoughts are critical in determining what is to come. Fear and panic are contagious viruses. Depressions are built on them and cannot occur in their absence.

Our life in the near future – as always – will only be as good as we expect.

“Our circumstances answer to our expectations and the demands of our natures.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Stay inspired!

Ray