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Why Are People So Negative? And How to Rewire Your Brain to Focus on the Positive

If you’ve wondered – why are people so negative – this answers that and gives tips on how you can become a positive person and help others be positive too.See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” ~ Dalai Lama

When you think back to your childhood, what memories flood your mind? It wouldn’t be surprising if it were the times you felt hurt or embarrassed. And when someone praises you and then provides criticism do the words of praise fade away because you focus on your weakness?

Why are people so negative? Is it hardwired or can it be changed? What can you do to focus on the positive?

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that the brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. That’s good news! Because if the brain “handles it”, we are in control of how we process negativity and positivity.

Let’s first consider what generally happens when we hear or experience negativity and why it takes on a stronger influence, and then we’ll discuss what we can do to rewire our brain to focus on the positive.

We focus on negative emotions more.

We live in a world of negativity – think about the news cycle! And while bad things happen every day, we don’t have to let that bring us down. We can mindfully choose to focus on negative emotions less and positive emotions more.

We dismiss or downplay compliments and positive feedback.

The key to “seeing the positive” is cultivating a spirit of appreciation and gratitude. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or can’t do, look for what’s going right; what’s possible; what you do have. Tell yourself, “I work hard”. Tell yourself, “I’m capable”. Tell yourself, “I’m doing the best I can do right now!” And believe it! It helps to also record sincere praise from others in your gratitude journal and savor it. This is a powerful exercise.

We process negative information more thoroughly – going over it again and again.

When going through terrible situations, it’s okay to grieve, and be hurt, angry, disappointed, or embarrassed. But you don’t need to stay in that space, dwelling on it. It’s your choice to look on it as a learning experience. Ask yourself: “How do I want to handle this next time?”, rehearse that and move on.

We tend to see people who say negative things as smarter and we give greater weight to criticisms.

Perhaps because children are praised for too many meaningless things, they don’t get the opportunity to build up resilience when they do receive negative feedback. If you’re bombarded with critical comments, stop them and say “Let me process this. I can only handle only one critical comment at a time.” And when you give feedback, make it constructive and do so sparingly.

We remember words that follow criticism more clearly than those that come before.

It’s best to offer feedback first and then follow up with positive comments. Therefore, reframe feedback you hear in this sequence – criticism first, positive last. When you look for the good in others, and you’re kind, supportive and encouraging, it produces a snowball effect in that it becomes easier to see the positive in yourself.

We use stronger words to describe negative events than happy ones.

For example, have you described a negative event this way “It ruined my day!”? And then turned around and described a positive event with “It was okay.” Give more weight to positive events by learning to experience and describe them differently.

It all boils down to what we choose to see. In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time, it isn’t obvious. It’s easier to glance at a situation, see the negative and go with that. If you want to empower your life with more positive thinking, please feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation with me so we can explore a coaching partnership.

25 Ways to Spot Negative Thinking in Yourself

Are these negative thinking patterns keeping you from living a fuller, richer life – do an honest self examination with 25 ways to spot negative thinking.“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” ~ Wayne Dyer

Are you a “glass half full” or the “glass half empty” kind of person? People tend to look at life situations one way or the other. We all know it’s exactly the same glass – the difference is how you view it.

It’s not always easy to tell when negative thinking is taking over. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re being “realistic” rather than negative. Or we’re so used to negative thoughts we think they’re normal and we don’t recognize the impact they’re having on our life.

The following list is compiled to help you make an honest self-examination. (If you feel yourself getting defensive, it’s a good indicator that you have some work to do, which wouldn’t be surprising since today’s society is saturated with negativity.) This list is not intended to make you feel “less than” anyone else, but rather to spark keener self-awareness.

  1. You default to worrying, fear, and are always on the lookout for bad news.
  2. You don’t reveal much information about yourself, because it “could be used against you”.
  3. You love retelling bad news in great detail and you put a negative spin on good news.
  4. You have thin skin, viewing innocent comments as condescending, rude, or offensive.
  5. You whine and complain a lot and use the word “but” often.
  6. You’re afraid to try anything new that’s outside your comfort zone.
  7. You hate getting out of bed because you don’t want to deal with life.
  8. You magnify anything that goes wrong until it’s dramatically tragic.
  9. You immediately list the reasons why a new opportunity won’t work.
  10. You hold back from taking part in activities because you’re too _____ (fill in the blank with what you perceive to be a fault).
  11. You talk badly about yourself.
  12. You can’t accept compliments.
  13. You assume something isn’t available, without even inquiring about it.
  14. You move to a new place, and everyone is “judgmental and mean”.
  15. You go on a vacation and its “ruined” by the weather.
  16. You delight in reciting what went wrong when you tried something new.
  17. You’re a victim – everyone else lives a charmed life where nothing bad happens to them like it does to you.
  18. You know that if something bad is going to happen, it’s going to happen to you.
  19. You tell everyone else how to live, but your own life needs sorted out.
  20. You find yourself running away from pain instead of toward pleasure.
  21. You don’t really know what you like, but you definitely know what you don’t like.
  22. You think other people are out to get you, and you jump to conclusions.
  23. You are an underachiever because you’re afraid of failing.
  24. You give up easily.
  25. You’re not excited about the future.

After reviewing this list, are you seeing that in some ways you tend toward negative thinking? You get out of life what you put into it. And a positive attitude is the main ingredient for a successful life.

Becoming a positive person takes effort, but it can be done. The first step is being willing to see that you’ve become a negative-minded person. (I don’t think you’re born that way. It’s something that you’ve learned, which means you can unlearn it.) This requires that you create a constant mindful awareness of your mental attitude. This often takes support to remind you of the positive things in your life. I’d be happy to partner with you. I recommend you take advantage on my Individual Somatic Coaching.

Stay tuned – in future blogs, we’ll discuss how to turn this negativity around. In the meantime, make sure you take the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment, as it will help you pinpoint areas that being more positive will make you healthier and happier. Click here to download your free copy.

Restorative Sleep – Don’t Let a Hectic Schedule Rob You of Its Healing Power

Get restorative sleep, the secret to achieving success, as you function at your best, make good decisions and work in harmony with your own circadian rhythmIn our busy lives, we have to schedule important appointments, or they won’t get done. Are you putting yourself on your schedule and honoring that designated time? It’s important to do so. One of the most important things to schedule is restorative sleep. Your success hinges on getting enough restorative sleep so you function at your best.

But what if sleep is on your schedule, but your body and mind just won’t let you fall asleep or stay asleep all night long? Is there anything you can do about it? YES!

Our system likes routine and predictability. Going to bed and getting up at the same time – even during the weekend – is vitally important. It’s the only way to get in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm). Consistency is crucial.

And if you need an alarm clock, it’s a good indicator you need to go to bed earlier. You should wake up naturally without an alarm. Altering your schedule by even 1 hour can throw you off, so if you need to make changes, do it slowly in 15 minute increments over the span of a week.

If you need to make up for a late night, opt for a 15-20-minute daytime nap rather than sleeping in. This pays off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural sleep-wake rhythm.

Why not use an App like Sleep Cycle to track your sleep patterns and see what’s really going on. It even has an alarm to wake you up at the top of your sleep cycle, so you’re feeling refreshed. That’s so much better than being startled out of a deep sleep by your alarm clock.

Sleeping difficulty is a symptom of an imbalance. Although sometimes it is a symptom of organic problems, more often than not it is an indication of poor habits. One of the biggest culprits that hinders restorative sleep is not getting enough sunlight at the right time and getting too much artificial light at the wrong time.

Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone, is controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain releases more melatonin causing sleepiness when it’s dark and less when it’s light causing wakefulness.

When the sun is up, take advantage of it!

  • Expose yourself to sunlight upon waking up. Look out a sunny window, take your coffee outside, get dressed and go for a walk. Anything to get some sun. 
  • Spend more time outside. Take your work breaks outside in sunlight.
  • Exercise outside or at least during the daylight hours.
  • Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible.
  • If necessary, use a light therapy box. This simulates sunshine and can be especially useful during the short, rainy, winter days we have in Oregon.

When the sun goes down, start winding down your day. Of course, during the shorter days of winter, that’s not practical. You’ll have to rely on indoor lighting to extend your day. Just remember that the light emitted from your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is disruptive to your circadian cycle. So, try to avoid these screens two hours before bedtime and replace them with relaxing activities such as music, reading a “real” paper book, listening to audio books, meditating, planning the next day, and talking with friends.

It’s also helpful to use a dim nightlight in the hallway or bathroom for any nighttime trips. And make sure your bedroom is darkened. Even cover your clock, if it emits light.

One other thing – with all the “health” fads people try, it’s important to note that we need protein and good fat (i.e. grass-fed butter, coconut oil, MCT oil) at dinner. Your body needs it for repairing your muscles and immune system overnight. If you have trouble digesting proteins at night, use enzymes to make them more digestible.
Restorative sleep is one of the most important healing practices and needs to be cultivated, supported and made a priority in order to cultivate wellness. Are you tired of being tired? Does something feel out of alignment in your life but you just can’t put your finger on what it is? Contact me about one-on-one coaching options that will help you enhance your wellbeing so you can wake up excited about each new day!

Sleep is just one indicator of your wellness. There are seven we all need to be mindful of. If you haven’t taken the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, please do so right now. Click here to download your free copy.

Learn more sleeping tips here.

Starting Your Own Private Practice? Five Things You Should Know…

Starting your own private practice or life coaching business will be more successful and less stressful if you consider these five things before you begin.Does starting your own private practice appeal to you? This can be a big transition for therapists, counselors, social workers, life coaches etc. But maybe you’re tired of the 9-5 job or you want more freedom to spend time on what’s really important to you. If so, there are some things that you should consider first so the transition to being an entrepreneur is easier and less stressful.

While it may seem tempting, it’s not wise to hand in your resignation without first having your new business up and running. And it’s not enough to build your business around something that you’re passionate about. Your new business must fit into what supports the kind of life you want for yourself and your family. It’s important to know that you can really make a living at your new business.

Consider the following questions before starting your own private practice:

What kind of life do you really want to live? A day-to-day existence isn’t enough. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the full! Now is the time to mindfully reflect on what it is that you really want and the values you hold dear. What personal goals have you been putting off? What do you want your life to look like 5, 10, 15 years from now? How do you want to renew your purpose in life? What are you going to do when you start to feel stuck?

How will you finance the new business? Starting a business on credit card debt is very stressful for you and your family. Start saving 20-40% out of each paycheck. Within a year, you’ll be in a good financial position to start your own business. During this time, learn to live on a budget and eliminate as much debt as possible. Put yourself into a position where you can live without a paycheck for a year, plus have extra for an emergency fund.

What’s your business plan? What’s your big picture dream for starting your own private practice? This is the time to fill notebooks full of all your ideas. What services or products will you offer? How will you deliver them? What does the sales process look like? How much money do you need to make monthly? Annually? How many sales do you have to make to fulfill that goal? Will you have employees, partners, sponsors, investors, etc? Where will your office be? What will your website look like? Which social media platforms will you find your clients on? How will you keep track of everything? A good online resource for getting started is enloop.com.

Who will buy from you and why will they want to? A business isn’t a business unless you have clients or customers. Start telling everyone that you’re starting your own private practice. Tell your friends, family, and acquaintances. Ask them if they would be interested in becoming a client or if they know of anyone who would be interested.

One of the biggest hurdles is narrowing down to a niche or audience that will really buy from you. If you try to appeal to everyone…you’ll appeal to no one. So don’t be afraid to be very specific about who you want to work with. It’s important to create a very clear marketing message of who you serve and what value you bring to them.

What kind of learning curve are you up against? There’s a lot involved in starting your own private practice. It’s time to assess what skills you have and what you still need to learn. Do you need further training in NLP? Do you need more computer skills? How about business finance and operational skills? What about marketing skills? Learn as much as you can now, because once you start your own business, you’re going to be really busy.

I enjoy helping fellow practitioners who are eager to build their own business, integrating personal excellence, core values and originality. If you could benefit from some one-on-one coaching, contact me and we can discuss your options.

To give you a super solid foundation for starting your own private practice, I also want to invite you to attend Institute for Professional Leadership fall class, Creating Your Dream Practice. As one of the instructors, I can personally guarantee you’ll walk away with a compelling business vision, clarity on your unique business identity, and a better understanding of your relationship with money and marketing. Feel free to contact me and ask any questions you might have.

Rewrite Your Story and Gain Independence from Your Past Self

Rewrite Your Story and Gain Independence from Your Past Self Do you really want to improve the quality of your life and the lives of those around you? If you do, it’s going to require serious effort to become a better version of yourself. It doesn’t work to keep living the same old stories you’ve been telling yourself for years.

What do I mean by telling yourself stories?

Every day we change for the better or worse. Over time a person can become so beaten down that they lose all self-confidence and start telling themselves that they’re stupid and they don’t deserve any better. It’s just a story, but they believe it and act in accord with it! On the other hand, shy, introverted people can build confidence and become world leaders by telling themselves that they have something remarkable to share with the world. And because they believe it, they actually do it.

As you can see, your story is formed by how you view yourself and how you react to the world around you. It’s very empowering to realize that you are the ultimate storyteller of your life and you can rewrite your story at anytime. Even if you’ve heard negative and limiting things your whole life, you don’t have to believe them.

How do you gain independence from your past self?

Recognizing that there are things you want to change about yourself is the first step. This discontent with self will start you on the path to becoming a new person. It won’t matter who you were yesterday. Do your best as you mindfully live in the present moment.

Yes, this is easier said than done. We all tend to bring self-imposed limitations of yesterday into today. That’s what keeps us stuck. So how do we break free?

Here are three steps to gaining independence from your past self…

  1. Create a burning desire to change by understanding your “why”. You may want to exercise daily, write a book, or start a business, but until you know “why” it’s so important to you, you won’t have the motivation to make it happen.
  1. Envision exactly what your life will become. Start planning. How will each day be different? In great detail, list the ways your life will be better tomorrow and five years down the road. It works a lot better to set intentions as you move toward these goals. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll create momentum. Each day you’ll like yourself better. Even if you stumble or fall back into old patterns, you’ll be able to pick yourself up and keep going, because you’ve had a taste of becoming the person you want to be and you’ll see it, not as a failure, but as a learning experience.
  1. Rewrite your story. Start living the life you want. Trade in your jeans for the dress slacks that make you feel like a professional businessperson. Treat yourself to a monthly massage. Eat healthier. Get up earlier and enjoy more productivity. Speak positively of others and of yourself, not allowing any negativity to enter your story. Step by step, create the life that you want. Believe you can and you will achieve the progress you desire. Because you’re really enjoying the improvements in your life, you’ll look for ways to continue on. Your new story will work for you, because it’s in alignment with your desires and actions.

Don’t allow a moment, a situation, or an experience to define who you are. You may have a moment of depression, anxiety, or anger. But that’s not who you are. You have the power to identify what triggers those emotions and you get to choose how to deal with those emotions. Take my 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment to see areas in your life where you want to rewrite your story to become the best you possible. Click here to download your free copy


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