We’ve heard it all before: Think positively and then you’ll feel good about yourself. But how true is this? And how can we harness positivity and bring self-belief to life?
Despite that there are numerous books on positive thinking and self-esteem boosting, we humans consistently fall into the trap of doubting our ability to feel good about ourselves. Yes, of course, reading a positive thinking book, saying affirmations, and keeping gratitude diaries are great strategies to infuse feel good feelings. However, is there a way to maintain “feeling good” about ourselves? The research says yes.
Some of you may remember the newsletter article I wrote last November 2017: Self Worth = Self Evaluation. In the article I discussed research, which demonstrated that the strength of our self-worth is measurable in the brain, and that sustaining it requires reinforcing positive self-appraisals. (If you want to read a copy of the original article click the link below). Similarly, the power of positive thinking can be sustained by understanding the biology of our beliefs.
To answer the question as to why sustaining “feeling good” is challenging, we need to consider the contrasting roles of the conscious vs. the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is where our individual identity, creativeness, wishes, and desires lie. Whereas, the subconscious mind is where our instincts, what we’ve learnt, and habits are situated.
These subconscious processes are influenced by our early childhood experiences, which is often why they may feel ineffective in adulthood. Despite that as adults we want to respond maturely to life experiences and demands, we often find ourselves falling prey to old ways of reacting. The reason is because the subconscious mind does not make decisions about the consequences of certain beliefs; its job is to hardwire incoming perceptions that seem reasonably true at the time. Also, is at least a million times more powerful than our conscious mind so it works hard at being the boss.
Research suggests that the conscious mind reads incoming signals as feelings. Whether these feelings are “good” or “bad” is often dependent on our subconscious reactions. These reactions, of course, can be changed because the conscious mind has the capacity to override them, which is the basis of free will. Overriding automatic reactions and emotions requires insight, self-reflection, awareness, and learning new ways to respond.
To answer the question as to how we sustain “feeling good” about ourselves, effectively means changing conditioned self-defeating habits into more fluid and considered responses. Education, self-awareness, and galvanising our strengths can increase our positive self-regard and leave us feeling good enough. By reinforcing positive self-regard strategies, new responses replace the old ones and supportive self-worthy habits become automatic.