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Avoid Negative Thinking - Choose to be Positive

By Chad Tackett

Negative self-talk is a destructive habit and part of an essential defense mechanism that we often develop to protect ourselves. Many people end up talking themselves out of actions that may be scary or uncomfortable. "I can't do this" is really just a way of saying "I don't want to deal with the experience of doing this." We are all strongly influenced by our feelings, often determining how and what action we ultimately take. If the feeling is uncomfortable, negative self-talk results; then we often decide not to take any action at all.

Many people assume that if a past experience produced a certain result, there is nothing they can do to change that experience in order to produce a different result. "I've tried every diet there is. I know what I should do; I just can't do it."

Please understand that you can make the choice not to repeat old patterns of eating, non-exercise, and negative thinking. You have the ability to choose the emotions you have. If you don't like feeling guilty, frustrated, or doubtful, you can choose not to. You, and no one else, must decide what is comfortable for you. In order to become successful at making healthy choices, you must avoid negative self-talk and start practicing positive thinking.

Positive or negative self-talk plays a big part in your decisions. Be on the "look-out for negative self-talk and notice how it influences your choices; notice how it can negatively affect your efforts to change. For example, perhaps you've just returned from a week's vacation where you took a break from exercise and low-fat eating. You tell yourself, "I feel so fat. I'm back where I started." You feel guilty and frustrated. "I don't have enough will-power to start all over again. Maybe I'm just meant to be overweight." Feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, you give up.

First, reflect on the feelings you had before you decided to give up. You basically told yourself that the healthy habits you learned before your vacation were all for nothing and that you have to start over. Ask yourself if these feelings are reasonable. Are you really back to ground zero? Of course not. You accepted change and developed a new way of living; these skills are yours forever. The vacation might even have done you some good: everyone needs a break sometimes. Otherwise, you might have felt deprived and not really enjoyed yourself. It's time now to tell yourself: "It felt good eating whatever I wanted and taking a break from exercising; I had a great time. But now I'm going to focus back on the low-fat, active lifestyle I was enjoying before vacation. There is no reason to beat myself up; I'll just take it one day at a time." Now you can rethink your previous decision and take action that will move you forward towards more positive change.

As you begin to understand your reasons for negative self-talk, you'll find yourself recognizing it more and more quickly after it occurs. Eventually, as you practice, you'll be able to recognize and stop negative self-talk before it interferes with your decisions.

It is very important to practice positive thinking and to remind yourself that you're a worthwhile person whatever you do. Try to consistently acknowledge that you are making positive changes to improve your health. You should be proud of yourself. Visualize yourself as capable, happy, and confident. These positive feelings will help the process of change. Remember, there are bound to be times when you're feeling frustrated or depressed. Positive thinkers know that these feelings are valid, and they don't try to ignore them. Positive thinkers acknowledge and try to understand them, but they don't blame themselves for the conditions that lead to these feelings. Good luck, stay positive, and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of a healthy lifestyle!



- Bio: Chad Tackett has degrees in Exercise and Heath Science and Nutrition, is a Certified Personal Trainer, and is a regular guest lecturer to both professional and lay audiences on the principles of effective exercise and good nutrition.




last update: February 2009



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