How To 'Think Positive' Without Pretending The Bad Doesn't Exist

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Woman embracing mantras surrounding her

You've probably heard a lot about the power of using positive affirmations as a daily mantra. This advice may even seem trite, like a sign in a hallway reminding you to "think positive" — what does that mean, and what do you do with it?

Besides being a cliche, an affirmation is a mental statement based on our opinions and beliefs — about ourselves, others, and life in general — that crafts our perception of reality. Affirmations help shape our future, even when we don't intend our thoughts to become affirmations.

Affirmations dwell in our subconscious and most form during the first ten years of our life. Most are great — they support the positive aspects of our personality, such as ambition, kindness, and assertiveness. They make us good people and serve us well, so we want to keep them.

However, some affirmations are detrimental: "I'm stupid," "Life is hard," "I can’t have what I want," "I don’t deserve to be happy," or "I’m not in control."

These negative mental opinions can pollute our life experiences and secretly steal our joy and happiness. At some point, as you grow up and mature past these negative opinions, you need to change them.

One aspect of adulthood is that you can now re-write your mental software — consciously and purposefully — replacing old, negative subliminal messages with brand-new positive affirmations and beliefs.

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As soon as you mentally declare something and make positive statements about what you want (such as, "I'm happy" or "I'm in a loving relationship") your emotional mind may come up with a contradiction or reason why you can’t have what you want.

So unless your logical and emotional minds agree, your daily affirmations will not work. Creating this mental-emotional alignment is the secret to getting what you want.

How do you do it? It's easier than you think.

Here's how to 'think positive' without pretending the bad doesn't exist.

1. Write down your affirmations

Grab a pen and paper and write down some short "I am" affirmations about who you want to be. Write these in the present tense to trick your mind into believing you already are that way.

For example:

"I am happy."

"I am fulfilled."

"I am in a loving relationship."

At first, this may be challenging since we are not used to thinking of what we want, but with a little focus, your mind will assist you in generating statements of your desires.

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2. Hear the voice of your childhood self

The voice of your childhood mental programming speaks up and lets you know all the "Yeah, buts" about why you can’t have what you want, such as "You’re stupid," "You are not allowed," Nobody cares," "Something is wrong with you," or "You’re not good enough for a happy life." Write them down.

When you know the emotional root causes of your discontent, you can deal with them and learn to tailor your affirmations for anxiety, success, or whatever else you feel is holding you back.

3. Look over the list of your negative mental statements

Realize that these were all created a long time ago in the mind of an emotionally driven child. But they are no longer relevant to the rational adult. You can feel it.

And now, once and for all, cross out this irrelevant torrent of falsehoods. Cross it off of your list and keep scratching these useless words off the page until you feel a sense of relief.

Now, an interesting thing begins to happen. You immediately feel lighter, and the world appears brighter as though you’ve removed the murky, scratched lenses of perception from your eyes, allowing you to see life in full color.

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4. Revisit your list of positive affirmations

These short, self-love affirmations are waiting to be enhanced with powerful possibilities. Start adding a few reassuring words that make sense to you and link them to your affirmation with "and ..."

Try these positive affirmations:

"I am happy, and I know my happiness is unconditional. It is my innate and natural state of being."

"I am fulfilled, and I love what I do."

"I am in a loving relationship, and my partner is coming to me for a joyful and fun adventure."

"I belong to this world, and I embrace my uniqueness."

"I am a good person and always do the best I can. When I know better, I do better just like everyone else."

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5. Practice your newly chosen affirmations

Practice your affirmations in the morning to develop a habit of happiness and feeling good. Every morning, your mind is a clean slate, ready to be instructed on what to believe.

Read your updated morning affirmations out loud, feel your positive mantras, imagine them done, and fantasize about how awesome it will be when it is so!

Do this for a minute or two each day for a couple of weeks until these daily quotes solidify within your mind, forming a neurological network of your new beliefs.

It turns out that life is a mental game, and the more you play it by taking control of your mentality, the easier and fun this game becomes. Even though life can get tough, you are always tougher.

So, write your powerful affirmations often, using your mind as the ultimate tool to divert any storms coming your way.

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Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a Medical Hypnotherapist and Holistic Consultant. She is the author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family.