Positive thinking has been talked about a lot as a tool to help you achieve your goals in all areas of life.
In the professional world, top achievers, whether in sports or business, are known to use positive thinking techniques. It can help you have more focus, motivation, confidence, as well as bring about life’s ‘reaction’ to match your state of mind & being, allowing you to experience & create more of what you want.
Some ways of practicing positive thinking might include affirmations, visualisations or creating vision boards.
However, for many people, these techniques don’t seem to work. And when they don’t see the results they want, they might increase their positive thinking efforts in order to change this, only to find that they’re still not moving forward and keep going round in circles, consequently feeling less and less positive.
Why is this?
There are some key factors that will heavily influence or determine the results you get from this kind of work, which are not being emphasised enough when talking about the potential benefits of this practice.
So if you’re feeling stuck around your goals, here are 3 things you need to be aware of and might have to first do some work on before you can most effectively use positive thinking.
1. Lack of trust and too frequent repetition
First mistake many people make, is repeating their affirmations or visualisations too frequently. They hold the attitude of ‘the more the better’.
Yes, repetition is absolutely key in getting benefit out of these.
This is because the mind is a creature of habit and it’s a set of memorised habits & patterns. ‘Instructions’ for new goals that fall outside what it’s been previously ‘programmed’ with, what is already familiar and known to the mind, will cause it to create a ‘warning’ state around it – fear.
This is simply fear of the unknown. Fear of stretching and experiencing anything outside what you’re comfortable with and that you’ve always identified with.
So repetition of your goals gradually makes them more ‘familiar’ and known to the mind so that they’re no longer perceived by the mind as a threat.
This is when the mind becomes open to accepting your future goals as more likely outcomes and it will begin to produce ‘output’ that corresponds to that.
Then, acting out of this state of mind in which ‘you’ve already achieved’ your goals, you’re far more likely to get the results in the outside world that match your actions & expectations.
However, mental repetition without full emotional trust in the process can do more harm than good.
Ultimately, it’s your feelings & emotions, not your thinking, that determine your state of being (thoughts might come up but you can learn to emotionally not react or be affected by them) and how life responds to you as a result.
When you trust in the process of your positive thinking work, it’s enough to do the work once or twice a day. This is to reinforce the thinking pattern as a habit, keep yourself focused and increase your positive feelings around it. But it’s that trust that actually allows your mind to accept the new instructions.
‘Knowing’ that your goal is definitely on course to be achieved, or in some way, has already been achieved, is essential for the mind in order to accept it as true.
But if you feel a strong, pressing attachment to the goal and the need to do this repetition work ten or a hundred times a day, then you’re probably lacking that trust.
When you’re too attached to thinking about your goals, the message you’re actually sending your mind, subconsciously, is one of not having, of lack.
This is because you’re not going to be focused on trying to get stuff you already have, right?
So the more you’re focused on the ‘wanting’ of the goal, the more you’re creating feelings of lack.
This feeling of lack creates a stress reaction; feelings such as frustration, anger, anxiety, worry, unworthiness, pain etc. This is because you keep feeling that you haven’t got what you want and you doubt whether you ever will. This pressure keeps you in a loop – doing even more frequent ‘positive thinking’ work, leading to more feelings of lack and consequently to more lack of results.
So consciously, you might be setting up positive intentions wanting to move forward, while subconsciously you’re building a ‘negative charge’ keeping you stuck where you are.
2. Conflicting beliefs
This lack of trust probably comes from subconscious beliefs that are in conflict with your conscious goals.
So you might be giving yourself a daily pep talk, when you actually doubt your ability to achieve what you want.
You might subconsciously be thinking and feeling that you’re not good enough or not worthy. Or that your desired outcomes are just very unlikely to happen in the real world for whatever reason.
Your subconscious beliefs drive everything you think, feel and do. They are the programmes which are running your mind and creating the output to match.
When in conflict with your conscious mind, they always win. You simply can’t be or do anything that is outside of what you believe is possible for you.
So it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into your positive thinking practice – if they don’t match and support you and your goals – they simply won’t allow you to experience them.
3. Too much ‘attraction’, not enough action
Goal-focused work can give you a boost of positive feelings around your goals.
But it also often creates the false idea that this is enough in order to make things happen.
So again, yes – you must be feeling all the positive feelings of having already achieved your goals in order for your mind to accept this as a true experience you can expect.
But how can you expect this if you aren’t taking the necessary action alongside your mindset work?
Too often, people are stuck in dream-land, where the ‘universe delivers’ while avoiding doing the physical or practical work. But the truth is, life won’t do for you what you’re not willing to do for yourself.
Having the right mindset is absolutely essential for creating the right conditions for you to take action; it’s the first step and the one thing that will enable you to consistently and most effectively take all the other necessary steps.
But it’s that action, aligned with your mindset that will bring your vision into existence.
So what can you do?
Become aware of your feelings
Stop mentally over-practicing positive thinking, and pay closer attention to how you’re feeling when you are. Mental practice is useless without the matching emotions.
So check – do you genuinely feel trust in this outcome? Can you genuinely feel the gratitude for ‘knowing’ that achieving your goal is inevitable? Does imagining your best future create feelings of tension or expansion?
Identify your conflicting beliefs
If you’re not feeling that essential absolute trust in the process, you need to become aware of what beliefs are driving you and are creating your state of being.
Awareness is always key to progress. You have to know exactly what’s in your way if you want to get it out of your way. You can’t change what you don’t identify.
So you have to clearly pin-point any limiting beliefs you have that are perpetuating your feelings of doubt, lack, and therefore your ever-increasing attachment to the goals and their subconscious negative charge as a result.
Once you’ve identified the exact beliefs and negative self-talk that’s really been going on, you have to then do the work to change these.
Trying to ignore, suppress or ‘override’ them with positive statements just doesn’t work. That kind of resistance even makes it worse.
So you really do need to do some deeper work – be willing to face head-on what has created your beliefs and change them on a subconscious level.
Whether using hypnosis, deep meditation techniques or other tools, you’ll need to get brutally honest with yourself and change that programming in order to be able to produce the ‘output’ you want.
Create and stick to an action plan
Once you’ve got the empowering beliefs and inner conversation you need to support you on your path, you can then start taking consistent external action without all that negative charge pulling you back into overwhelm, confusion, avoidance or procrastination.
You have to make a true and full commitment to making your vision a reality. When your mind (thoughts) and body-mind (emotions and consequent actions) are aligned to achieve your goals, your success is not only likely, but truly, almost inevitable.
Maya Zack is a peak performance specialist and expert mindset coach & hypnotherapist for women entrepreneurs. Based in the UK, she works internationally and has been coaching individuals and teams since 2007.
She helps aspiring or already established entrepreneurs dissolve overwhelm, self-doubt, fear, resistance or other inner obstacles & distractions and instead create the empowering beliefs and emotional resources to support them on their business journey. She helps them build & maintain the mindset they need in order to achieve their goals, transforming their relationship to themselves, money and success on the deepest, subconscious level so that new ways of thinking, feeling & behaving quickly become automatic and effortless.