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Positive Thinking not what you think it is or does for you.

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Boston Redsox, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Beloved Grand Eagle

    [​IMG]
    The Dangers Of Positive Thinking
    SEPTEMBER 17, 2015 - BY DAVID HANSCOM
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    Dr Daniel Wegner, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, elegantly documented what every human knows: Whatever you try not to think about you will think about more. He also demonstrated that there was knock-on effect—that you will continue to think about it a lot more.

    Wegner also noted the problem is amplified if you are an introspective person with high ideals. You are more apt to be critical of yourself when you encounter these random disturbing thoughts. Yet every time you do battle with such thoughts you give them more power. Paradoxically, the extra energy spent judging the thought enhances this process. The reason? Your brain develops where you place attention. Thus, a random neurological connection resulting in an unspeakable thought now becomes a “parasite” in your brain and strengthens over time. Eventually it becomes a “demon” that you want to rid yourself of.

    But these thoughts have nothing to do with who you are. They are who you are not since you originally suppressed them. Unfortunately, these thoughts have become permanently programmed circuits. Similar to riding a bicycle, you cannot unlearn them.

    “You are not your thoughts.” We have heard this saying most of our lives. Then why do these thoughts seem like part of our identity? It’s because every anxiety-producing thought elicits a powerful chemical response from your body in the form of adrenaline and cortisol, among many others. This reaction is part of the unconscious part of the brain, which is one million times stronger than the conscious or rational part of the brain.

    Humans have evolved around avoiding anxiety and are consistently taking action to remain safe. Unfortunately, we have the problem of perceived danger in the form of troublesome thoughts causing the same chemical reaction as if there were real physical danger.

    There are three choices of dealing with anxiety that most of have been taught: 1) suffering 2) suppressing 3) masking. None of these are effective in the long run. Suppressing has the additional characteristic of really firing up the nervous system. Positive thinking is just one of the ways we suppress.

    Positive thinking is also part of the conscious part of the brain and has no chance of suppressing your body’s automatic survival reaction. It is a gross mismatch. Although you may keep your mind in a positive place, your body’s response will continue on. And when your body is full of adrenaline you cannot feel peace, love and joy.

    The first step in solving any problem is to become fully aware of the true nature and extent of it. It is critical to both understand and feel what is actually occurring. Then you can effectively deal with it. But positive thinking severely clouds one’s awareness.

    The key to rewire your brain is to create an awareness of your stressor, briefly separate or detach from it, and then substitute a positive response. Positive substitution is the key to creating more functional neurological circuits.

    There is a well-documented tool that I call negative writing. You simply write down your anxiety-producing thoughts and instantly destroy them. You are not destroying them to get rid of them, as these are permanent circuits. It simply allows you to write with freedom. The darker the thoughts that you can put on paper, the more effective the process.

    There are many physical benefits, such as improvement in asthma, autoimmune disorders, etc. from this exercise as well as mental. There are over 200 peer-reviewed papers debating the types and merits of the expressive writing. There are still many questions that remain to be answered but this simple tool is remarkably effective in quieting down your response to stress.

    Why is writing so effective? I have witnessed hundreds of patients become pain free and essentially all of them began with the writing. I think that the writing physically separates you from your thoughts. Somehow your brain acknowledges the separation and is recognized by the unconscious part of the brain. The space that is created allows choosing another thought that is more functional. With repetition your brain will change.

    Although positive thinking is a major problem in keeping your nervous system fired up, positive substitution is necessary and effective in rewiring your brain.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2016
    Dexy, enigma, Simplicity and 6 others like this.
  2. Susan1111

    Susan1111 Well known member

    Boston what a great article. It makes a lot of sense! I agree it is about rewiring your brain. EMDR therapy I believe works with this concept although done differently.
     
    Boston Redsox likes this.
  3. tgirl

    tgirl Well known member

    Interesting article Boston.
     
  4. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Excellent article, thanks for posting.
     
  5. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks Boston, I'm going to bookmark this one.

    I particularly like this paragraph:

    The key to rewire your brain is to create an awareness of your stressor, briefly separate or detach from it, and then substitute a positive response. Positive substitution is the key to creating more functional neurological circuits.
     
  6. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Can somebody clarify what is meant by positive substitution in this context? I have been doing the negative writing exercise but this seems to involve writing the stressors down and then destroying the writing...where is the positive substituion here? I have been told when negative writing/journalling etc to avoid the pitfall of attempting to problem solve the stressors that come up but rather its just a case of writing down and then destroying the stressors. I'm just a bit confused as the where the substitution takes place in this process.
     
  7. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'd say, you need to replace any negative, limiting belief with a positive belief.

    When you've established any limiting beliefs when journalling, you can look at ways of substituting these into more healthier and positive thoughts. This is where affirmations can be used. Over time new neurological pathways will be formed and the old ones will be void.
     
  8. Susan1111

    Susan1111 Well known member

    I believe this paragraph may help answer your question that is according to this theory.

    Why is writing so effective? I have witnessed hundreds of patients become pain free and essentially all of them began with the writing. I think that the writing physically separates you from your thoughts. Somehow your brain acknowledges the separation and is recognized by the unconscious part of the brain. The space that is created allows choosing another thought that is more functional. With repetition your brain will change.

    And....

    The key to rewire your brain is to create an awareness of your stressor, briefly separate or detach from it, and then substitute a positive response. Positive substitution is the key to creating more functional neurological circuits
     
  9. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Ok...so the crux is that you need to be aware of and 'discard' the previous stressors and accompanying though before actually replacing it with a more positive thought? In other words positive affirmations/thinking will not actually be effective if we just try and transpose them on top of the existing thinking framework.
     
  10. Susan1111

    Susan1111 Well known member

    That's how I understand it! Rewiring your brain/thoughts makes a lot of sense to me. Her concept is one way to do it, there are others such as EMDR and there is probably more I'm unaware of.
     
  11. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Exactly, I've always believed that affirmations just by themselves won't be effective, one has to identify and replace the limiting belief with a positive one. That's why I think EFT is effective, you are taking a limiting belief and replacing it with a positive statement. Although, like others, I don't necessarily believe in the meridian points used within tapping.
     
  12. lexylucy

    lexylucy Well known member

    Can anyone give me an example of positive substitution?

    Let's say I have the thought:

    "nobody loves me"

    I write it down. Then I offer an alternative:

    Theodore loves me, Kate loves me, I love me... etc.

    Would this be an example of positive substitution?

    Does the substitute thought or thoughts need to be written down?

    I guess positive thinking would be more along the line of ...."oh that's not true ...don't think that way....ssshhhhh..." and so on. At which time my brain would just fire off the same statement even louder!


    I love this article Marco !!!

    Amazing :)

    LexyLucy
     
  13. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Beloved Grand Eagle


    I would answer that first question with the answer: IS THAT TRUE then give my answer whether it was or not then give example of why?

    Positive thoughts are good, but they need to be real/ plausible …or SC will just toss it in the barrel.

    I like be excited about possibilities !!! know your SC does not know what to do with that it might want to put a little fear in you but I believe its still not sure what to do, example: Say hey I can't wait to plan that trip to Hawaii or I can't wait to start my new small business.

    Lex

    you are speaking to a person who it took 5 yrs to stop 90% of my negative thoughts and fears, I am finally moving out from my bad marriage, getting out of this comfort zone which was killing me. Thx to Mike2014 he opened my eyes with a great conversation we had last night regarding this issue.

    God Bless

    Marco
     
  14. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Boston Redsox

    Glad to help my friend, I hope seeing the pros and cons helped shine some light on the situation and how you want to progress.

    @lexylucy

    Let's say I have the thought:

    "nobody loves me"

    I write it down. Then I offer an alternative:

    Theodore loves me, Kate loves me, I loveme... etc.

    Hi Lexy, why restrict love to just a few, a statement like such could be so empowering and be used to extend beyond kindness and towards building compassion. I'd be open ended with a statements and allow for possibility...

    I.e 'I love myself deeply and welcome the opportunity to be loved and feel loved."

    I really like this article:

    1. Carve out some quiet time to identify your self-limiting beliefs and write them down. HINT: They are usually the same thoughts that replay in your mind every day, or familiar thoughts that are trigged in specific scenarios, like, when you think about your finances.
    2. Pick one self-limiting belief to work on at a time. You need to shoot these guys down one at a time. It’s best to start with an easier one, one you know is definitely false, like, “All the people who have succeeded in life were successful because they had money”, rather than one that has a long history of pain and emotional triggers.
    3. Ask yourself why you believe this.Reflect upon your life and write down every instance, every experience you had that reinforced this belief. Try to trace this back to the earliest experience from where this belief emerged.
    4. Gather any evidence that suggests this belief is false. Can you think of any real life examples when a statement like this was not true? Can you think of any examples in your life where this statement about yourself was false? Write down every example that indicates this belief is untrue – in the world for other people, as well as for you.
    5. Neutralize the self-limiting belief with positive visualization. Chances are, these beliefs have become so entrenched in your psychology that they have become well-established thought patterns, often triggered by a certain type of event. Your practice now is to, whenever you catch yourself thinking this belief,IMMEDIATELY counteract it with a strong image of the opposite. For example, if you believe that the only reason why you are unsuccessful is because you have no money, next time you think this, focus on all the people who rose to fame and fortune, who came from more difficult circumstances than you.
    6. Rinse, lather and Repeat. Work your way up your list from the easiest to the most difficult self-limiting beliefs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
    Boston Redsox and Simplicity like this.
  15. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi everyone,

    I reached out to Dr. Hanscom, the author of this article, and asked him about @lexylucy's question. Here's what he wrote:
    Hi Forest, I looked at the conversation and this is dead on. You have to first “lean into the negative” and then substitute. She gave an excellent example. It is also a variation of David Burn’s three column technique except with two columns. I have done this for years. Thanks! David​

    As a side note, When Dr. Hanscom mentions David Burns, he is referring to a doctor famous for talking about how we can heal our mood and emotions by changing the way that we think about things (i.e. our cognitions). Dr. Burns is known for a book called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy that explains this approach (known as cognitive therapy) and how it can be used to treat anxiety and depression.
    http://www.amazon.com/Feeling-Good-The-Mood-Therapy/dp/0380810336
    Dr. Hanscom is a big enough fan of the book that he recommends it to almost all of his mindbody patients. The book is quite famous, consistently being the best selling book in mood disorders on Amazon, because several scientific studies have shown that rather than having someone go to psychotherapy, simply giving someone the book is enough to lead to statistically significant gains in their depression (perhaps because the approach is so simple). I think that this type of cognitive approach is a great complement to journali

    As background, I don't know if people noticed that this article was written by David Hanscom, MD, a mindbody doctor who for years has allowed us to repost his blog articles on our site (they automatically pop up in our "Mindbody Blogs" section). He is both a recovered TMSer himself and the author of Back In Control.
    http://www.amazon.com/Back-Control-surgeons-roadmap-chronic/dp/0988272903
    He has been on Dr. Oz and developed his own approaches to mindbody healing for back pain. Basically, he realized that the best way to help his patients was often through a mindbody approach, even though I would bet that this has involved a lot of sacrifices for him, given how successful he already was as a conventional physician. I'd bet that his own very difficult experience with TMS is what makes him so energetic and care about it so much.

    If you're curious, here's a video of him recently on one of the local TV news programs:
     
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