Sunday, March 1, 2015

Not Just for Teachers: Thinking Positively

As noted in my last post, some of my coworkers and I are reading the book Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching by Angela Watson. It's written for teachers, but it could apply to every profession! This chapter is about strategically thinking and how to think the thoughts that you WANT to think!

The 4 strategies are: dismiss, distract, reject, and replace.

1. Dismiss
"When you find yourself slipping into distorted thinking, you can simply acknowledge that it's happening without attaching any importance to the thought. When you notice a judgmental, critical, or unproductive thought, think to yourself, that thought is not a part of me. that thought has no importance. i'm letting that pass. You're not analyzing where it came from or why you feel like you do; you're dismissing the thought as irrelevant to your decision about the type of mindset you want. 

Thoughts sometime seems so pressing and all-consuming that you can't imagine NOT thinking them. However, thoughts have no significance in and of themselves. They only have power and importance when you grant it to them by giving them attention.

Although the idea of wanting to quit seems all-encompassing and like it couldn't possibly be ignored, it's simply something that entered your mind. You can choose not to validate it with your attention.

When you choose to ruminate on a thought, you're sending sending a message to your brain that the thought is something of importance and therefore should be recalled. your brain will simply do its job and bring it to your remembrance later. But each time you dismiss a thought, you're re-training your brain. You're telling it, This thought is not important. it's not worth going back to."

2. Distract
"How do you distract? One of the best ways is to turn your energy to whatever you're doing and completely focus your energy on what's happening in the moment. Think to yourself, i'm going to be present and enjoy what's happening right now. Focus completely on what you're experiencing in your senses. Don't compare it to what you expected or wanted, or critique the situation in any way. Experience the present moment just as it is. 

You can also distract yourself by changing activities."

3. Reject
"I know my own mental weaknesses, and when I notice a thought creeping on that plays on my sore spots and insecurities, I practice rejecting that thought and shutting it down immediately. The process is usually like a lecture from the healthy part of my mind to the part of me that wants to allow nonsense to gather in my head: Oh no, we are NOT going THERE again. That was a nasty and totally unproductive train of thought and I'm getting off right now. If you keep that up, you're going to be moping around and complaining all day, and I'm choosing to have a good time in the classroom. Nope, that's it, let's think about this next activity and what needs to be done to make it the best one possible.

The reject process basically consists of sitting myself down and giving myself a good talking-to.

Rather than allowing my internal dialogue to go unchecked, I'm choosing to confront it head on.

Rejecting a thought means blocking it and refusing to allow it into your mental space. Insidious negative thoughts have to be dealt with forcefully. Instead of trying not to think about them, confront them head on and mentally label them as counter-productive, weakening, and unwanted: This thinking does not help me become the best teacher I can be. It tears me down and makes me feel bad about my self. I refuse to indulge in those types of thoughts.

Tell yourself: Right now my mind is repeating the refrain that I'm hopeless and incompetent. That's a lie and I reject those thoughts. Even though I don't feel like it right now, I know that I have the ability to be successful and I will succeed. The incident that made me feel incompetent is actually just one thing that happened in my life and indicative of all my capabilities across all time. That's the truth I am choosing to set my mind on. 

Be firm with your mind. View your brain like a spoiled, out-of-control child who always wants his way and doesn't accept no for an answer. Your mind will demand that you think negative thoughts over and over, and you have to reject then over and over. Be consistent. If you give in occasionally, you're fostering more bad habits in the future. Draw a line in the sand and refuse to cross it. Your unfailing refusal to give in will eventually re-train your mind to think constructively. "

4. Replace
"Positive thoughts take root in your mind in the same way that negative ones do. Each time you think, I love teaching this unit; My kids did a great job with that activity; My coworkers were so helpful; or My principal really supported me on that issue; you've planted seeds that produce something strengthening in your mind and eventually in your life.  

Many times, replacing thoughts means simply noticing the good things as they happen. It means paying attention to the small wins, and focusing your mind on them. Even when many things are going wrong, you can train your mind to pay more attention to the things that are going right.

Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can also involve examining the evidence: Is the negative thought really true or an overreaction? Choosing a positive outlook is far from being mindlessly cheerful despite all evidence to the contrary: usually the facts of reality do not support our negative thoughts. Much of our pessimistic thinking is based on assuming the worst, and predicting that whatever bad thing that's happening will impact us on a much larger scale and for a longer period of time than it actually will.

Replacing negative thoughts with more accurate and positive sentiments is the most powerful way to prevent unwanted thoughts from returning."

I couldn't pick just one verse to go with this. So I picked three.
You can find a printable version of this here

You can find a printable version of this here.

You can find a printable version of this here.

Scripture helps me to combat those pesky negative thoughts & get my perspective aligned with God's. 

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