Take a Note from Pollyanna!
Growing up one of my favorite movies was “Pollyanna.” The story is about a girl who had many tragic events befall her, but she refused to give in to the negativity that would have been so easy for her to adopt. Her optimism was infectious, and she was able to help others develop the skill of choosing their thoughts more intentionally. That was only one of the happy-crying, tear-jerker Disney-esque tales that I was exposed to in my youth (most of them involved actress Haley Mills!). But in truth, if you consider all the advancements in the field of neurobiology regarding the plasticity of our cells in connection to our beliefs and thoughts, the story of Pollyanna has validity to it after all!
There are plenty of times when I find myself having trouble with some aspect of life and start kicking cans in the mental junkyard of my mind. When I notice my behavior or mood start to plummet, that is usually a clue for me to hit the pause button (to the best of my abilities), slow down, and reflect about what is happening for me. This presents an opportunity for me to remember that I only have to be here now. By engaging in present moment awareness, I am able to pull my thoughts away from past or future situations that I may be ruminating on, and just BE ok where I am now. If I am able to get myself to that point, I know there is a good chance that I can gain greater clarity on whatever is causing me mental, physical, or emotional distress. I normally do this by tuning in with greater awareness to personal triggers that may have pushed a button that did not feel so great. Cultivating that level of awareness when life feels like it is throwing curve balls my way really helps me to steady my balance and not strike out. When I take the time to notice the thoughts that are provoking me, their not-so-distant relatives, core beliefs become more noticeable, too. This allows my whole story to feel much more relevant and I tend to have greater compassion for any mis-steps I take along the way.
The thing is, most of the time we are not even aware that we are thinking! We are so accustomed to functioning in an automatic mode that many of our behaviors and habits (including our thought patterns) become quite subliminal. The majority of our thoughts and attitudes rest firmly on the grounds of our core beliefs. Core beliefs are tricky, little, sub-realities that we have created in our minds. We pick them up along the way as we are trying to navigate life through the lens of our child self. Therefore, all of those insecurities we feel as a child due to events occurring that leave us feeling “bad,” “faulted,” or even “worthless” can become solidified in our subconscious mind as being 100% true. As we grow, we can shape our outer worlds quite successfully through trial, error, determination, and overall resilience, but we are often left with shards of preconceived ideas in our inner world of mind and heart. A lot can come from becoming aware of these old, crusty, and mistaken beliefs so that we are able to recognize their presence as hinged indefinitely to negative thought patterns that may be operating outside of our awareness. The more we become aware of our thinking and emotional responses to life, the greater the chance for us to call out and challenge limiting beliefs for what they truly are…NOT TRUE!
Here is a quick exercise for you to try:
Think about some situation in life that is causing you some amount of turmoil. It can be a little bitty amount of upset or something that makes you feel like hitting the panic button right now. OK. Do you have your thought? Now take a moment to just sit with it. Close your eyes even and feel all the nuances to this ordeal, whatever they might be. Try to notice your thoughts about it, or better yet do you notice any feeling associated with it? Why do you feel that way? See if you can get a clear thought out of this process.
Now break it down further.
If that thought is true, then what does that mean for me…
And if that is true, what does that mean…
And if that is true, then what does that mean?
Eventually, if you keep going with this process you may just stumble upon something that feels a little more like a BELIEF. If you are able to come up with a potential belief, or even a rock-solid thought, check out the validity of it.
“IS THIS TRUE?”
Make sure to give yourself some leeway if this process does not come naturally to you yet. Often times just noticing that you have a thought or belief that is detriment to you in some way helps to dissipate its effects. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to use this as a tool to challenge your beliefs and empower yourself through any hiccup in life!
If you are noticing any kind of negative patterns showing up in your life, it may be due to some form of limiting belief that could be sabotaging your progress. If you are ready to take a closer look at these patterns and would like to work with an experienced mental health professional who can assist you with developing greater tools of awareness that help increase your ability to overcome life’s challenges, please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services at (407) 443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our Orlando counselors.
The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles
by Bruce Lipton
Captain Snout and the Super Power Questions: Don’t Let the ANTs Steal Your Happiness
By Dr. Danial G. Amen
7 Steps to Develop Awareness of Your Feelings and Thoughts
by Dr. Athena Staik