Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to develop positive thinking?

How many times have you found yourself frustrated and someone tells you to "think positive".  You may be thinking - of course - I don't want to feel this way - but I don't really have much of a choice!  If it were that easy I would already be doing it - right?
Maybe or maybe not... 
When negative events happen in our lives we begin to feel the weight of that event.  Then our mind starts to create negative thoughts and interpretations that contribute to our feelings and our fears.  What if we were able to stop ourselves and look at the situation from a different perspective.  How to develop positive thinking is not a skill that comes naturally for many people, however it can be learned with practice.  Think of the situation or event that has you stressed and try to imagine seeing it from a different perspective.  What would you say to a friend who was having that same negative thought?  What is the real cost benefit analysis?  Is holding on to the negative thinking really worth it?  Think of it as a fork in the road.  There are two paths to take.  One path is negative and the other positive.  If you had a choice of path, which would you take?  As much as hearing the words "think positive" can be irritating or seem unattainable - it really is within your control.  You can learn how to develop positive thinking.  That does not mean the negative event did not happen or doesn't need to be dealt with, what it means is that you control how you interpret it and how and if you let it take over your health and well-being.  It is a choice you make.
When you find yourself stuck in a negative thought cycle - think of it as the negative path and search for another one.  Even in the darkest situations, there is always a path that is just a little bit brighter.  You may need to search for it.  It takes practice to identify a brighter and more positive path, but the more you can consciously make that choice - the easier it becomes.
If you are finding yourself stuck in a negative cycle and struggling to learn how to develop positive thinking, check out my website to learn more on upcoming workshops and services.  If you think coaching or counseling may be right for you - you can contact me through or call 908-337-3710. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

How to deal with stress and anxiety...

Is this how stress and anxiety make you feel?
Today I want to offer a quick tip on how to deal with stress and anxiety.  We all get overwhelmed and feel stressed out and anxious at times.  Often we don't think we have any control over how we feel.  Well, you actually have more control than you think!  Your emotions may be automatic but your thoughts on the other hand are in your conscious mind. 
When situations happen -we form thoughts and interpretations of the situations - these then lead to our emotions and ultimately our ability to take action.
Next time you find yourself feeling stress and anxiety - stop and take a step back.  Think to yourself What am I thinking right now that is contributing to this feeling?  Is it rational?  Is it productive?  Much of the time our interpretation of the event and what we are thinking becomes MUCH worse than the reality of the situation.
There are some common distortions we all do from time to time that add to our negative thinking.  By identifying some of these you can take the first step on how to deal with stress and anxiety.  Some common ones are:  Catastrophizing - when you only see the worst possible outcomes of a situation, Disqualifying the Positive - when you recognize only negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive, Magnification - exaggerating the importance of problems or shortcomings, Mental Filter - picking out a single negative event.
These are just a few examples of thinking issues that will intensify and make it challenging to deal with stress and anxiety. 
When you find yourself in the midst of stress and anxiety and you can recognize the negative thoughts that brought you there - stop and ask yourself is this thought rational?  What basis is there for what I am thinking?  What would I say to a friend if he or she was thinking this?  What is the benefit to thinking this way?  If you are honest with yourself you will find that you can poke holes in your negative thought.  That's when you want to come up with a new and more rational and more productive interpretation.  What else could be going on?  What other explanations are there?  Is there a different way of looking at the situation?    Once you start changing the thoughts your feelings will follow.  You will learn how to deal with stress and anxiety because you once you are able to change the thought and then the feeling you can be more productive with what you need to do from that point forward. 
Try it.  Next time you feel stressed ask yourself if there is another way to think about the situation and notice how that changes how you feel.  Write down the negative thought and then write down the more realistic and productive thought you replaced it with.  Try this every day and you will learn automatically how to deal with stress and anxiety better than before.
If you want more information please check out my website  There you can sign up for a periodic newsletter or find out information about services such as counseling and coaching as well as workshops and upcoming wellness events.  You can also get tips and information on my facebook page or find me on twitter.  Cara Maksimow, LCSW, CPC
I look forward to connecting with you!