We’re all grownups here, right? How hard can it be to be a functional adult? Then why do we struggle so? Depression and anxiety disorders are epidemic in our society. Stress-related health problems threaten the quality and span of our lives. Alcoholism and drug addiction touch many of our lives and to me reflect our attempts to find release or escape from pressure and our failure to thrive.

Are we even built to withstand the strain of our increasingly mechanized world? We adapt but at what cost? People move from job to job, from state to state, weakening the fabric of community and family ties. We are increasingly forced to rely on our own internal resources and have a limited repertoire of mental and emotional strategies to draw from. Our “emotional intelligence” may not be up to processing and resolving the myriad of challenges we face, especially when it comes to our relationships.

What if relief was as easy as changing our thoughts? Neuroscience is proving what Norman Vincent Peale posited in The Power of Positive Thinking. We become physically addicted to emotional states. Therein lies the power of negative thinking. We reinforce neuro-pathways by repetition of thoughts and associations so that we automatically switch on self-destructive tapes. We feel resentment, anger, hurt, hopelessness and fear, often unnecessarily. Many painful emotions are related to injuries incurred in childhood and are re-experienced through the hardwired perception of the immature mind we inhabited as a child. By retraining our conscious mind, we can choose to put a different spin on our perception of events, emotions and the behavior of others.

The Buddhists believe that it takes 100,000 repetitions for any new skill or idea to take hold. Undo established negatives by eliminating every “should, “have to”, “always” and “never” from our vocabulary. Listen for other rigid, fixed ideas that preclude seeing events in a dynamic, liberating way. By challenging these carryovers from the past we can rewrite our history from the perspective of the empowered adult. We then create the space to realize that we have all the resources to overcome life’s obstacles. In time, and with many repetitions, we change our thoughts and our lives.

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Author's Bio: 

Candace Harris, LCSW
3801 East Florida Avenue, Suite 700
Near Colorado Boulevard
Denver, CO 80210
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