Advent Calendar – Dec 12th: The 24-Hour Positive Challenge

Every once in a while, I am reminded of the power of my subconscious thoughts and the dramatic influence they can have on my day, and my life.

It’s hard to be aware of these thoughts let alone hear them, but if you slow down enough, and if you still and quiet your mind, you may hear what is commonly referred to as self-talk.

Self-talk is your internal dialogue. It is said to be influenced by your subconscious mind, and it reveals what you are really thinking, and sheds light on some of the questions or ideas that are churning in the background of your mind. As you probably can guess, self-talk can be both negative and positive. It can be encouraging, and it can be distressing.

Imagine trying to go about your day, trying to be positive and upbeat when your thoughts are constantly influenced by negative self-talk or beliefs about yourself or the world around you. How can you instigate change of behaviour, if your subconscious is constantly feeding you thoughts of failure or negativity?

Meditation is an essential ingredient to helping your thoughts be positive and a very important weapon in your tool kit for good health.

This is why meditation is so important.. We are told to feed our body good food and exercise everyday, and get a good night’s sleep in order to stay healthy, but rarely are we told that we also need to clear our mind daily, and inhale the beauty of the world around us, and fill our mind with positive thoughts about ourselves.

That is what meditation does. Whether you devote 15 minutes to it, or give it a full hour, taking stock of your thoughts is the first step in having a more positive day. When we become aware of the toxic thoughts in our mind, we can remove them, and replace them with positive affirmations which gradually can become new beliefs. Slowing down our mind enough to be able to focus on comes through and then visualizing the disposal of that negativity and inhaling beautiful thoughts and positivity to replace it.

“Control your thoughts. Decide about that which you will think and concentrate upon. You are in charge of your life to the degree you take charge of your thoughts.” – Earl Nightingale

I am the first to acknowledge that it is easier said then done. As with any new skill, practice makes perfect. At first, when I began to meditate, I was frustrated because my mind was so busy, I could never get to that place of relaxation I was being told to go to. The more I tried to focus, the noisier things became in my mind and it felt like I had a slice of a Manhattan traffic-jam honking in my head.

I stuck with it and over the years became better at it. You have to be patient, and let the noise dissipate. Its as if your mind is fighting you, and not wanting you to go to that place of secret thoughts and throws all sorts of things at you to distract you. When I persevered, gradually, I became more aware of what was lurking in the back of my mind.

I will be honest with you, the first time you hear your self-talk, it may be horrifying. For most of us, the self-talk is negative because of the years of judgement, insecurities, fear, and measurement against others that we took in, unknowingly. When I first heard my self-talk, I was shocked! Shocked at how painful and mean it was and I had to shut it down for self- preservation. The words I was hearing about myself, I would never have uttered to others, and not even to my worst enemy.

It lasted only a few seconds but it was enough to understand that I needed to change it, so I could be stronger. Being aware of what needs to change is already 50% of the solution.

I began to do things that allowed me to slow down my mind, and when it was in a peaceful and restful state, began to repeat positive things about myself. Sure, first I had to make that list of positive things. You have to check humility at the door when you do this. It is not the time to be humble. You have to be proud and vocal about all of your talents, and great attributes. Its important to say it, until you believe it. Until you actually feel the pride swell inside you and it makes you smile.

  • Taking a long drive on country roads, noticing the beauty in the scenery I saw everyday but never noticed.
  • Sitting quietly, listening to the sounds of silence and the soothing hush of the wind allowed me to connect with the messages the Universe was sending me.
  • Closing my eyes, and focusing on one idea, and giving it the time needed to fully unravel and get to a point of closure.
  • Sometimes I would recall a recent event or conversation that had made me feel so good, and would play it over and over in my mind, because it brought me joy.

The more I practiced, the easier it became to meditate and I do it regularly now, especially when I notice that I am cranky, or judgemental and hear myself saying things about the world that are not nice, and not who I want to be.

My husband and I have a game we play whenever we notice that we are being negative. It’s the 24-hour positivity challenge. You have probably seen it on social media. Essentially, you are challenged to go a full day without saying or thinking anything negative about people or the world around you. It is hard, yet it teaches us to be mindful about our words and feelings. It is so easy to taint our day with negativity and we have to apply ourselves to do and say positive things to one another.

Negative thinking is toxic. It seeps into your subconscious and influences your self-talk and then, your self-talk generates more negative thinking and you are caught in a viscious cycle. Generally, this negative thinking can be grouped into four categories:

  • Personalizing. This is when you blame yourself for everything.
  • Magnifying. You focus only on the negative aspects of a situation, until it becomes bigger and you ignore ignore any of the positive sides to the story.
  • Catastrophizing. You expect the worst and are dramatic about its consequences and you can rarely let logic or reason persuade you otherwise.
  • Polarizing. You see the world in black and white, or good and bad. There’s nothing in between and no middle ground for processing and categorizing life events.

Today, I challenge you to take the 24-hour positivity challenge and go one day without negative thoughts, feelings or words. I will do it too.

Don’t worry if you find that you blew it after 20 minutes. Just start over. Re-start the clock. I often have a couple of re-starts before I am officially off and running. You will see that once you have one hour invested into the challenge, you will not want to start over, because it is very demanding of you and that will help you stick with it. With every hour you successfully complete, it gets easier, and you get stronger.

I know you can do it. Good luck!

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