Changing Mental Perceptions
Be neither a pessimist nor an optimist. Extreme pessimism is a catastrophe magnified, but extreme optimism is reality denied. Neither is good for mental health. Given the same situation, a pessimist may give up while an optimist may strive to change the situation. A healthy dose of optimism can be uplifting and hopeful, while a healthy dose of pessimism can be realistic and wise. Achieving a balance of being realistic and hopeful is a challenge, but essential to positive mental health.
Remember this maxim: Your life experiences remain the same; but your perception and response to those experiences will make a difference in your life.
Accordingly, your mental perception plays a decisive role in your mental health. Fortunately, optimism can be learned, and pessimism can be unlearned.
Ways to become more optimistic
The first step to optimism is to identify the thoughts and beliefs running through the back of your mind after something unpleasant has happened.
Interpret repeatedly your beliefs and feelings.
Challenge, if necessary, your beliefs, not your feelings, because what you feel is what you feel and it is real to you; but your beliefs may change under the scrutiny of logic and perspective.
If you are paranoid about something, your fear is genuine; but challenging and rationalizing it with common sense and logic may change your feelings. If you act despite your feelings, your beliefs and emotions will follow right behind.
Next, record all your feelings about several events and your different responses to them. Do this for a few unpleasant situations, which may or may not be similar. You may then begin to see a repeated pattern in how you interpret and react to those events, and that will help you become aware of and, ultimately, change that unwanted pattern.
If pessimistic thoughts, such as “I will never be able to do it”, pop up in your mind, tell yourself that a pessimistic way of thinking is present for you. Once your thoughts begin to change, you may feel better, contributing to rejuvenated mental health.
The next step is to distract yourself from your pessimistic beliefs or dispute them.
Disputing pessimistic beliefs will bring deeper and longer lasting results than distracting will, but distraction can also be as effective and may sometimes be easier on you.
If you want to get away from a problem, you should not focus on it. Too much thinking and analyzing may make any problem seem worse than it actually is. Instead, focus your attention on something else, such as the possible solutions to the problem.
Disputing pessimistic beliefs involves replacing them with more logical and realistic explanations.
Step back and re-evaluate the situation, and your thoughts may come into focus, becoming more positive, and you may even be able to work things out faster. On the other hand, if you painstakingly ruminate and relive your experiences, repeatedly analyzing them, and getting in touch with your feelings about them, you will only reinforce those unhappy feelings; analysis creates paralysis.
If you are mentally healthy, you are forever caught up in the present moment, never thinking about the past or the future - both of which you have no control. Today is a wonderful day - live it in the present, and live it to the fullest! You will be surprised how this positive attitude can restore your mental health.
The mind and the will
Distinguish between your mind and your will. Your mind, a thought-producing machine, provides you with many options to choose from, but your will makes the final decision.
So much in life is beyond your control. Whatever, that is your life and only you can decide to be happy. You can choose to be happy regardless of your circumstances. Your happiness is a result of your decision to be happy. Your emotions and feelings are created by your thoughts.
Happiness or unhappiness cannot exist on its own. It occurs because of your thoughts, which can be changed by your will, if you decide to do so. If you can think, you can change.
Your past thoughts are about events, however glorious they might have been, that are no longer real. The good or bad experience is gone and exists solely in your mind as a memory. Yesterday is a bygone day, today is a new day, and tomorrow is another day. Ruminating about the past only paralyzes the present and may even doom the future with anticipatory anxiety. How you process your thoughts will make a big difference in your life!
Changing the thinking mind
Your brain is the hardware of your whole being. Make it functional! Make it productive, not lethargic as in the case of depression. A functional brain makes you younger for longer.
If you want to be what you really want to be, you must make your brain work for you, not against you. Your brain plays a pivotal role in your personality, feelings, and behavior because it is the seat of your perception and experience. It controls
YOU control your own thinking; your brain creates your own world—how you live your life, and how happy you are. It is all in your mind. You are responsible for how you feel - even the stresses in life.
Deep limbic system (near the center of your brain)
People and events do not necessarily cause your moodiness, irritability, negative thinking, decreased motivation, loss of appetite, and insomnia (all common symptoms of depression).
Your deep limbic system may be the culprit. How? Your deficiency of neurotransmitters may increase metabolism or inflammation in your deep limbic system, leading to its malfunctioning.
Overactive deep limbic system
An overactive deep limbic system may make you do the following:
You look back at the past, and you feel regret.
You look at the present, and you feel dissatisfaction.
You look at the future, and you feel anxiety.
These negative thoughts are known as automatic negative thoughts (ANT).
Healing deep limbic system
The only way to heal your deep limbic system is: change your moment-to-moment thought patterns. Learn to rethink your thinking. Change your thought patterns. Yes, you can do it! Everybody can! Rethink your thinking of your thinking mind.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau