Three Tips to Train Your Brain to Focus on the Positive
Have you ever heard a noise in the dark of night and became certain an intruder was outside your house? The more you listen for the sound, the more convinced you are that danger is imminent. After a few minutes, you can no longer hear the tick of your clock or the usual noises a house makes. Now, your mind starts to wander, heading straight to worst case scenario. It must be an ax-wielding killer. You spend the entire night in and out of sleep, scared to death of imminent danger.
The next morning, you go outside and discover that the fictional character, Freddie Krueger from the movie Nightmare on Elm Street, was not actually outside your house, but rather, the shed door was unlatched and whipping open and closed with each gust of wind.
Our minds have incredible power. They create, invent, and discover. We use them to believe, live in faith, or reject an idea with a single thought. The mind also can keep us stuck in fear or re-living a trauma. If we are not careful, our brains will play a succession of worst-case scenario movies.
What we focus on tends to magnify. Often, something that was a possibility becomes an absolute certainty if we think about it enough. Continuous replaying of trauma can result in a one-dimensional view of one’s life. It can keep us stuck in victimhood. We become the trauma.
In the same way, we envision danger, fear, uncertainty, or failure; we can also visualize courage, strength, success, and hope.
Lindsey Vonn was called “America’s Best Woman Skier Ever” by Sports Illustrated (February 8, 2010). One key to Lindsey’s success is this: “I always visualize the run before I do it. By the time I get to the start gate, I’ve run that race 100 times already in my head, picturing how I’ll take the turns.”
I have learned many things and grown in various ways as a result of my daughter, Jamie’s addiction. If given a chance, I would opt to go back and unlearn all of it. I would take Jamie back and return to my former self. Since that’s not possible, I have a choice to stay stuck in my grief or grab hold of the lessons and the growth.
Use these three simple tips to help you to focus on the positive.
- Identify Something Positive. To begin using this process, choose one thing you have learned or one positive characteristic about yourself. Although there are many, pick just one to start using this 3-step approach.Some people are more resilient than others, but everybody can identify something positive from a trauma. There are dozens of positive things about yourself or blessings in your life.
- Focus on the One Thing. When your mind wanders to other thoughts that are self-defeating or fearful, switch your thoughts back to the one thing you identified in tip #1. Think about this as much as you can.
- Start to Replay a New Movie. Like the story of hearing a sound at night and immediately beginning to play the scary movie in your mind, you can start to replay a different type of film. Take the new thought you have and use it to create uplifting visuals in your mind. Play out hopeful scenarios. Picture yourself succeeding.
I wonder what Lindsey Vonn’s skiing legacy would have looked like if she had envisioned falling, missing turns, or finishing last.
What would your legacy look like if you started to use Lindsey’s visualization exercise in your life? Consider how your life would change, if rather than continually running the movie of your trauma, failures, or fears, you started replaying your passion, growth, and value.
Anytime your mind wanders to the old movies, switch them up. Take control of your thoughts and what is going through your mind. You, and you alone, get to decide what and how you think.
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Valerie Silveira | Trauma Disruptor & Legacy Leader™ is an award-winning author of multiple books, workbooks, and journals to guide people worldwide through the path to freedom. She is known as a woman of unwavering strength who, through the trauma and lessons of her daughter’s addiction and her senseless murder, along with her decades of leadership, empowers others to stand up and live courageously. Valerie's books, workbooks, journals, and 9 Weapons of Hope™ provide hope and healing for life’s many challenges. For information on the courses, books, and speaking programs, visit ValerieSilveira.com.