Cultivate Positive Emotion - it gives you the Power to Change
Positive emotion provides the energy for willpower and self-control which enable personal change. Yielding to the temptation of immediate gratification, on the other hand, is the enemy of change. First of all, you must believe that you can change; then, you can use short term quick-acting self-soothing strategies to generate good feelings. Regulating your emotional state so as to increase positive emotion helps you to think more creatively and so problem-solve more effectively, which in turn facilitates change. You can help yourself move forward by finding role-models that you wish to emulate and identifying yourself with them; this can increase your confidence in reaching your goals as you pursue longer-term strategies to shift your emotional balance.
Short-term strategies include:-
1) Acting happy and confident even if you are not, because positive emotion is created by concordant behaviour such as smiling, laughing, and assuming dominant as opposed to submissive postures - that is open relaxed limbs, leaning back if seated or standing erect with your head up. The outward behaviour prompts thoughts associated with positive emotion by ideomotor priming.
2) Hugging yourself, which has a powerful effect on your emotional state mediated by the hormone oxytocin.
3) breathing in a way that generates positive emotion as recommended by Kriya Yoga - in particular the 'victorious breath', which involves breathing deeply 2-4 times per minute while focusing your awareness on the sensation in your throat which is constricted slightly to produce 'Darth Vader' sounds with the outbreath longer than the inbreath. Pause after breathing in so that the ratios of timing are 1:4:2 for in, hold and out respectively.
Longer-term strategies are:-
a) Bearing in mind that a positive past provides a springboard for a positive future - so rewrite your personal history to emphasise only good things, without analysing them. Keep recalling these memories and let the memories of bad things fade away; there is no need to actively try to forget bad things (in fact this is counterproductive).
b) The present quickly becomes the past, so savour the good things of the present to create detailed memories that can be savoured again in the future - stretch out the experience, pay attention to all your senses as the experience unfolds and memorise the images.
c) Schedule enjoyable activities that make you happy so as make sure you have good experiences to savour; create opportunities to get into 'flow' mode when you become completely absorbed in an activity that is challenging but possible for you to succeed in if you draw on your skills and make an effort.
d) As your personal narrative develops, make sure that you give yourself credit for making good things happen; make yourself the cause, take the credit and do not tell yourself that they happen by chance or an act of God.
e) Reframe all major events in your life as a positive influence; look for benefits in everything that happens. Remember that 'every cloud has a silver lining'.
f) Appreciate and feel grateful for the good things in your life; compare yourself with those who are less fortunate and practice counterfactual thinking whereby you imagine life without something/someone you value and contrast how life might have been.
g) Appreciate yourself by reminding yourself of your past achievements and successes; there is nothing wrong with authentic pride. Make a list of times when you have made an effort to apply your skills and knowledge to good effect and replay the event in your imagination so as to build up your sense of competence; this can include controlling yourself in a difficult situation, making good relationships, helping others, taking a leadership role and directing others, asserting yourself when your rights have been infringed, or solving a significant problem in your life.
h) Make an inventory of your strengths/things you are good at, and then think of ways in which you can use them in everyday life.
i) Positive emotions spring from autonomous self-determination, affirmation of your core values and the pursuit of goals that reflect them - externally imposed values such as media fame, showing off wealth, displaying status symbols, cultivating an image and pursuing fashionable notions of sexual attractiveness engender dissatisfaction with ones relationships and possessions, and undermine appreciation of what you are fortunate enough to have. These are all products of consumer capitalism and its marketing tools including excessive choice. Relationship building is undermined by the materialistic individualism and competitiveness on which consumerism thrives; it is therefore sensible to foster your autonomy by disengaging from consumerism in order for you to connect more with others and form mutually supportive relationships.
j) Be kind to yourself by "satisficing". Do not put yourself under pressure by maximising - remember, you are only human and therefore not perfect so you are entitled to make mistakes. Forgive yourself and move on, just as you forgive others, as bearing grudges breeds negative emotion.
k) Show gratitude towards others whenever they provide help or support or supply a service - you and they will both feel better.
Clearly there are plenty of ways of developing an impetus for change via positive emotion so personal change is possible.
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