Feel stuck? Does everything you want seem out of reach? Not any more. How often have you made up your mind that what you really want is to lose weight for good, get the job you deserve or just change your life for the better – only to feel you’ve almost failed before you even start because your inner voice is telling you, ‘it will never happen’? Here are some tips to show you you really can get what you want.
‘It’s natural to be wary of new situations and making changes in our lives because it means pushing out of our comfort zones, and it can feel as if we’re going against our inner voice,’ says Walter Friedman, whose work includes teaching strategies to boost positive thinking and action. ‘But, unless we face up to the things that worry or challenge us, we simply stay the way we are and never let ourselves develop and grow. Our fears reflect the very areas where we need to challenge ourselves most.’
The rewards for the ones who face up to what frightens them are huge – think of the Fear Factor contestants, who quaked and wept at the thought of everything from great heights to snakes and insects – and the victorious grins on their faces and unshakeable boost to their confidence when they faced their biggest nightmares. Just take our test and see what you can achieve.
The following questions should help pinpoint exactly why you’re stuck in the habit of thinking negatively, and how you can do something positive to make a change! What’s holding you back?
1. You’re facing a big challenge, such as a new job or house move. What’s your approach?
- Trepidation – you feel nervous and probably put off getting started (5)
- Indecision – you ask lots of people for their opinion (15)
- Worry – what if you make a mess of it? (10)
2. Think of something you’ve set out to do in the past – lose weight, start a new hobby – that didn’t quite get carried through. What went wrong?
- I just ran out of steam (5)
- I didn’t really see myself being successful (15)
- No-one supported me, so it was hard to keep going (10)
3. You’re asked to do something beyond your usual comfort zone – speaking at a school meeting, say. Your instinctive reaction is…
- I just couldn’t! (15)
- I’ll end up looking like an idiot (10)
- I wish I could, but… (5)
4. When you feel you’re stuck in a rut, what stops you from shaking things up?
- Nothing would actually change that much (15)
- Where do you start? You know you want things to change, but what? (5)
- Other people wouldn’t understand how you felt (10)
5. Which of these is most true of how you think?
- My self-doubt and fears stop me from living life the way I’d really like to (15)
- I’m just too busy/tired/stressed to push myself (5)
- There are always obstacles to doing new things – it’s easier to stay as you are (10)
How did you do?
Now add up your scores and check out our advice.
35 points or less
Although you might believe you’re positive, physically you can be very negative, using tiredness as an excuse to stay where you are.
You tend to see challenges as threats, and suppress the part of you that wants to break out because of what others may think. You’re a perfectionist, and won’t do things unless you’re sure of an ideal outcome. Set yourself small challenges that push you just a little bit at a time.
45 points or more
You expect the worst before you’ve even begun to try your best. You let past failures make you believe you won’t succeed this time, either. Switch to positive statements like, ‘I’ll bet I can if I try.’ Say them often enough and you’ll accept them as true, in the same way you’ve learnt to believe negative thoughts!
Simple steps to ‘can do’
- Start focusing on the things you’d like to achieve, or the negative feelings you’d like to replace with positive ones.
- Put up pictures and images from magazines that remind you of how you want to be, or what you’d like to have – anything from a big house to being happy and enjoying life. Look at it as often as you can until they practically become real to you.
- Something as simple as your language habits can help to turn negative thoughts around. Be aware of the words you use. Instead of thinking, ‘I can’t’, tell yourself you can. Instead of saying, ‘I regret’, say, ‘Next time I will’. Instead of thinking, ‘This is awful’, tell yourself what opportunities there are in the situation.
- Be honest and open about who you are. Know that what people see on the outside is what you are on the inside. Then stop worrying about what people think, and measuring yourself against others, which is so often what makes us feel negative about ourselves.
Try this: writing a daily ‘thought diary’ to help you keep track of which situations provoke a negative or positive reaction – and then work on your weak points.