Category Archive: Emotional Health

  1. Mastering a Positive Mental Attitude

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    A Positive Mental Attitude

     

    Being positive, having that positive mental attitude or PMA sits at the heart of your perspective of life, the world around, your relationships and how you feel about yourself.  In a sense it is at the heart of most psychology practices and an essential for good emotional health.

    Great, I hear you say, so how do I go about this?  What if thing don’t go right and I don’t feel at all positive. How do I master this PMA that is so important.

    Well, positivity is far more than smiling and looking happy, it is about approaching life from a positive point of view, and focussing on the good and better things in live rather than negative events.

    You wil have heard the term positive mindset and understand that how our mind and brain think impacts on our thoughts and feelings. So how should we define PMA or positive mindset.

    I like this simple definition by R Sasson which reads

    • ‘Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results’

    Of course, thinking positively does not mean ignoring or avoiding every bad or negative thing that happens.  It does mean that when those life challenges happen, as they surely will, we tackle them with a positive outlook.  

    It means we look for the best in other people, for the best possible outcomes to bad events and experiences and importantly, we see ourselves and our abilities and values with a positive mindset.

    To master this, and responsibly adopt that positive mindset we need to adopt positive thinking as our default thought pattern.  In turn that will help us make the best of every situation we face, or on advertising speak ‘not make a drama out of a crisis’.

    A positive mindset goes deep, but we can start to adopt habits which will help our mind learn to acquire a more positive mental attitude.  It means when you find yourself in a situation you will be able to make the best of it, and not give in to helplessness or negativity.

    Now positivity does not sit alone, it is linked to characteristics which make up your overall attitude. You will find a range of resources, articles, short guides and courses which deal with many of these and can support you toward an overall positive outlook.   

    Areas such as integrity, gratitude, resilience, acceptance (and self acceptance), self-esteem, mindfulness and optimism are all traits which support a positive mindset and you will find these  are discussed or resources are available on this website.

    For this short article we are going to look at some examples of positive outlook which may resonate with many of you and then of some of the tips and tricks to help you develop a more positive attitude.

    Keep in mind also that a positive mental attitude can help you cope with stress, give you greater personal resources, help you develop your coping skills in whatever situations you need to face, and increases the control you have over whatever comes your way.  It is empowering, and positive thoughts are an investment in yourself.

    Here are some examples, all drawn from the characteristics above, which demonstrate positive thinking in day to day life.

    • Being friendly to people you don’t know
    • Making someone’s day perhaps with a compliment or by giving praise for something
    • Not allowing negative or miserable people drag you into their ‘black hole’
    • Giving without expecting anything in return
    • Being genuinely happy for someone else’s good news
    • Even in things are bad at the moment, holding on to a positive future goal or vision

    There are of course, many more and you can probably add to this list as an exercise in positivity.

    To complete this short piece, I am finishing with some practical tips to help you develop your own positive thinking. If you would like to explore the topic further, or to take a short course in Positivity, then I will be posting a short guide very soon. In the meantime, if you need any help drop me an email at ellie@thewomanwithin.co.uk

    ‘Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunshine.’  Benjamin Franklin

     

    Here are some tips to help set you on your way:

    • Find good things to focus on even if they are very small
    • Use inspirational quotes to motivate and encourage you
    • Start each day with positive affirmations
    • Avoid letting yourself getting dragged down into other people’s complaints
    • Make at least two people smile every day
    • Keep a Gratitude journal (see resources)
    • Focus on the present; don’t dwell on the past, it is done
    • Learn from failure and see it as a lesson not a disaster
    • Assume that the people around you have the best intentions
    • Show the world how resilient you are by staying positive when something does go wrong
    • Banish negative self-talk
    • Find the funny side of bad situations whenever you can
    • Surround yourself with positive people as friends or colleagues
    • Acknowledge and celebrate your successes

    Remember to check out resources and tips elsewhere and register for updates and information to support you here.

    Happy positive and empowered living

    With love,

    Ellie

    Optimism refuses to believe that the road ends without options’   R H Schuller

     

  2. Clare’s Story part 1

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    This is part of a very special series of blogs. It is Clare’s story. Clare is just like you and me. An ordinary person living an ordinary life. Yet so unhappy that when I first met her, she felt all hope was gone.

    Let’s meet Clare.

    It was an ordinary day. Clare was standing in her kitchen with an armful of laundry; clothes for herself, her husband of eight years and two kids aged 4 and 6.

    She threw the clothes in the machine, just like she had a million times before. Then her mind went blank. She stared at the controls, not knowing what to do. She started to shake, and then to cry. For the next fifteen minutes, she found herself on the kitchen floor sobbing uncontrollably.

    ‘I can’t even work this machine properly. I’m useless. What is wrong with me’ Clare wept.

    For the answers, we have to go back four days earlier.

    As always Clare had washed, then ironed her husband’s shirts. He was very particular about looking smart at work. Standing in the kitchen, she had handed him a freshly pressed shirt to put on.

    As he did so, he noticed a small mal on one sleeve. ‘What’s this?’ his angry voice demanded as he tore off the shirt and pushed the offending sleeve under her nose.

    ‘Can’t you do anything right now. Can’t even use a washing machine and clean my clothes? God, you are useless, it’s a wonder I put up with you at all!’ he stormed.

    ‘I’m sorry,’ Clare faltered, ‘I didn’t mean it, Alan. I just didn’t see.’

    ‘Didn’t look’ Alan replied, ‘didn’t care, more like. F……ing useless woman, don’t know why I keep you’ And with that, he stormed upstairs, grabbed another shirt and slammed out of the house. Leaving Clare softly weeping that she had upset him again. And not a little scared at what mood he would be in later that day when he returned.

    So today, on this ordinary day Clare had found herself breaking down at the thought of using the washing machine and the possibility of getting something wrong again. How she longed to be the perfect wife and mother, and how everything around her seemed so wrong now.

    About an hour later she was standing at the school gate to collect her eldest. She smiled with the other mothers’ all of whom she felt must be happier than she was. A friend, Paula, there to collect her 7-year-old, said hello and asked Clare how are you, and how are things.

    ‘Great’ Clare heard herself reply, ‘we are all fine thanks. How about you?’

    ‘Oh, we are planning our next family holiday once the school breaks for summer’ Clare had forgotten the sun was shining, it just hadn’t seemed important as she had driven to the school, practicing smiling along the way.

    ‘That’s lovely. I’m not sure yet what we are doing yet. Alan will have something planned’

    In truth Clare had no idea if he had, but since she would have no part in deciding any case, best to say it would be a surprise.

    ‘You are so lucky,’ Paulasmiled again, ‘such a thoughtful man. He was the best looking when we all started dating years ago. You really are fortunate.’

    ‘Yes, I suppose I am’ Clare didn’t really feel she wanted this conversation to continue, ‘oh look there’s Timmy. We need to dash, lovely to speak to you Paula, bye’

    Clare hugged Timmy and walked with him back to the car. Quietly driving home she wondered, briefly, why she felt so bad.

    Once home and with her neighbor who had looked after little Alec gone, Clare set about preparing dinner. And as she did, she wondered if she could get this meal right. She wanted to do things right, but now had little belief in her abilities.

    When I first met Clare this was her situation. And it had been like it for several years. She had married the man of her dreams, loved the first two years of married life, and then slowly lost herself and her self esteem along the way.

    In a later chapter, I’ll introduce to more of Clare’s life and the journey she undertook. In my estimation, she is one lady of courage.

    With love,

    Ellie

    © Ellie Appleton www.elliescommunity.com

  3. The Circle that can help or harm

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    How the ‘thought circle’ that affects our lives can be acknowledged, and how we can use that process to improve our confidence, reduce anxiety or worry and more.

    Research and experience show that there is an innate thought driven circle that steers our actions and therefore determines the good or poor behaviors and choices that we make in life.

    The Circle is one I use when working with many women who are stressed or unhappy and which is based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. It is useful for low confidence and self-esteem and here we will see what it is and how we can make changes.

    In simple terms, this is how the Circle looks.

    This all starts with the situation, any situation. That situation gives rise to certain thoughts and images. These could be from a learned pattern or response or a new situation and new response feelings.

    Without any conscious effort, these thoughts and images give rise to specific feelings, good or bad. And often if our thoughts are negative, if we are hearing self-talk that we will fail, or things are going wrong, then the feelings can be acute.

    Thoughts and imagesFeelingsEmotions and Physical sensations BehavioursSituation
    This can lead to panic, worry, anxiety, a decrease in confidence or self-esteem. And we can see how a pattern of negative thought reactions can make these negative feelings pile up inside us.

    We will experience emotions and many of us will also experience physical sensations. A sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach or that cold skin that comes from fear or worry. All too often we are then in a negative spiral

    Our behaviors and subsequent actions are now determined by these thoughts and feelings. And we can find our self in a cycle of poor decisions and actions. Our outcomes from our behaviors can make us feel worse, not better. And we may further entrench our feelings of low self-esteem or confidence.

    We want to change this.

    So what is going on here? And what can we do to improve the way we think, feel and act?

    Understanding the process is the first step. Taking action to intervene and change patterns of a negative ‘thought cycle’ is the next step to changing the outcomes.

     

    Steps: What’s going on?

    Let’s start with the situation. Think of a time which triggered negative responses; perhaps an instance when you felt hurt, worried or cross.

    1. Ask yourself

    When did this happen? Where did this happen? What actually happened? And who else was involved, who were you with?

    Write your answers down so you can reflect back.

    2. Next, ask yourself

    What did I think at the time? What disturbed or distressed me? What was my imagination saying to me? What was going through my mind? And further, what does that say about me, what does that mean about me or about the situation?

    It’s important to try and capture all the thoughts, pictures and what you imagined (or imagined might happen) at the time. Set these down in your notebook.

    3.Dealing with feelings

    Try to recall and describe what emotions you felt at that time. What were they telling you and how did you feel? How intense was the feeling or feelings? Use a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) to rate the intensity of those emotions.

    Next, think about your body. What were the physical sensations from these thoughts? This could be anything from sweaty palms, sickness in the stomach, shivers or a numbness. These are your sensations so try to capture them as best you can. Think about what did I feel and where did I feel it.

    Add these to your notebook.

    4.Behaviors and actions

    Ok so far so good. Now you need to capture the resulting behaviors and actions. Ask yourself what you did at the time. What did you avoid doing? What was your automatic response? If this is difficult, try thinking what someone with a helicopter view would have seen you doing and describe it in those words.

    And finally, what was the outcome? Did you feel better?

    And if so was it short-lived or regretted later? Did your reaction help your confidence or increase your self-worth or was it a negative impact that you experienced.

    If your initial thoughts and images were negative, it is very, very, likely that your behaviors and actions will also be negative.

    And all this negativity and poor experiences simply serve to convince ourselves that we are worthless or failures.

    Step: Let’s start to make changes

    Now you have an idea of what is going on. Reading your notes may just give you an ‘AHA’ moment and you should be able to see the link between the stages of your ‘thought circle’ even though it all happens in just a second or two.

    In this blog, I want to show you two options to help you press the pause button and start to reset your thoughts and your actions. If you want to delve deeper then have a look at my upcoming courses where I cover this in-depth in small exclusive groups.

    So, let’s take the first method to help you make changes.

    This makes use of a Thought Diary and Strategy planning.

    Set out across a landscape sheet )or whatever format you are most comfortable working in) using the following the columns/ headings as described below:

    • Situation
    • Emotions and Moods
    • Physical Sensations
    • Unhelpful Thoughts and Images
    • Alternative / More Realistic Thoughts
    • What I did and what could I do or could have done. What would be the best response for myself and others

    For this technique, we are asking you to not only record the situation and your thinking or physical sensations but to take a calm look at what alternative perspective you could bring to the situation and your thoughts.

    Spend some time when you have some peaceful moments to reflect and consider what alternative perspectives there are. Those alternatives are out there. Try to use your ‘Wise Mind’ to think these through so that you have a focus point in response to the same or a similar trigger situation.

    At this point, you might find it quite difficult to think through some of the alternatives or what different actions and behaviors would have defused or avoided the negative impact.

    So these last two columns of your sheet are going to become your Strategy to deal with these situations.

    Step: My Strategy

    First, to gain a perspective and take a realistic look at what you have recorded. For this, I want you to STOP. FULL STOP.

    Press the pause button.

    Now think to yourself. Is this factor is this an opinion? What would someone else see in this position?

    Consider what another person who was impartial would think and say about this? Am I basing my response on all the facts or on assumptions?

    Stop and think about another way of seeing it. Simply pausing alone can help adjust your mind to other possibilities. For instance, is your reaction relative to the problem. And what is the real problem anyway? What is the bigger picture?

    Try to think of another way of seeing it and then think about what advice you would give to someone else. You could find this to be very different to your automatic response.

    As well as is this proportionate, realistic, ask if the matter is really as important as it now seems.

    Collect your thoughts and answers and write them down.

    Now that you have some answers let’s look at planning a different response.

    What can I do differently, and what do I believe would help me and possibly others too in this sort of situation. Write down what you think would be the most effective.

    Ensure you are writing down what will be the most helpful for yourself and the situation. Ask yourself what will be the consequences of doing using this different approach.

    Use your ‘Wise Mind’ (Buddhists would call this your Observing Mind) and most important of all. DO WHAT WORKS.

    If you can break the circle you can change the outcomes.

    A lot of this is not always easy. It may take practice. But using STOP and asking what is really going on and what is the alternative perspective can help you enormously and save so much negativity.

    From time to time I offer workshops on this topic. So please do get in touch and find out when and where the next DO WHAT WORKS workshop is being held.

    And let me know how you get on with these techniques.

    With love,

    Ellie

    © Ellie Appleton www.elliescommunity.com

  4. For Those We Love

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     We have all, at some time, lost someone dear to us. And losing a parent, husband, wife or child can be the hardest think in the world.

    And a funeral can be heartrendingly difficult.

    Many people have said to me they cannot begin to think what to say at the funeral of a loved one.  Caught in grief, words do not come easily for many

    My reply is always that if you speak from the heart, it doesn’t need to be perfect or well crafted. This is not a time to worry about such things.

    So, today, I am sharing the poem I wrote for my own mother’s funeral.

    It would get no good marks from my English teacher – that I know.

    But it helped and meant something to me, and I believe, to others who shared that moment.

    And yes, it was written without revision – straight from my heart.

     

    If it helps anyone when they are thinking and coping with loss, here it is:

     

    When I am gone, think of me fondly,

    Remember my ways with kindness,

    Look past the foibles, and the times we couldn’t agree

    Remember me fondly.

     

    When I am gone, don’t think too often

    Remember to live your life

    Reach for the stars, and live your own way

    Don’t look back too often

     

    When I am gone, smile at my name

    Keep it safe in a memory

    Tuck memories away, and hold them dear

    but remember all the same,

     

    When I am gone, think of me tenderly

    Remember the sharing

    The times we laughed or smiled, with no fraught words

    But the best of yesterday

     

    When I am gone, be sure that I’m waiting

    Time is but nothing

    At Rainbow bridge, the sun always shines,

    There we’ll be waiting

    Till we cross that bridge together, when we all are gone.

     

    With love,   Ellie

    © Ellie Appleton www.elliescommunity.com