"Why am I so hard on myself?" I caught myself saying. "Why are things so hard", Why does it always happen to me", "Why do I worry so much", and "Why is the world against me?" These are things that we often ask ourselves, or worse, ask of others.
The reality for most of us is that the world isn't against us, we are simply looking at the negatives rather than the positives.
During the fight or flight response, our sympathetic nervous system is engaged and all hell breaks loose in our brain and body. If this happens often enough our brain will get into a pattern of behaviour and react negatively more and more often.
We then start to look continuously for negatives as our body goes into panic mode. It becomes a habit, a very bad one at that.
It is easy to say "All you have to do is to change your thoughts", and as we know it is much harder to do. The best way that I have found, as do many others, is to breathe correctly.
So what is a good breath - it is a long slow deep quiet intake of air to fill your lungs completely and then slowly release it taking the same time to breathe out as it did to breathe in.
In meditation, they will teach you breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds and breathe out for five seconds. But we aren't doing meditation, we are learning how to breathe again.
Breathe in and out like this whenever you feel yourself getting angry, after a nervous event, when you feel uptight or anxious, and when you find yourself talking negatively.
Be careful not to take too many long, slow, deep, quiet breaths - you may become dizzy and in some people it can have the opposite effect. Just three of these long, slow, deep, quiet breaths is enough.
As you breathe like this, it much easier to change your thought patterns as a result. When you change your thought process you begin to engage your parasympathetic nervous system which opposes the sympathetic nervous system used in fight or flight mode.
If all of this breathing stuff sounds a bit too much for you, you could always use the tried and true method of changing your thoughts through a bit of NLP - every time you catch yourself in negative self-talk or worrying, flick a rubber band that is around your wrist. The pain will disrupt the pattern of behaviour. Many, many people have found this option helpful, but unfortunately they still need to learn to breathe properly.
It takes between 60 to 80 days to change a habit from the old to the new so you do have to work at learning to breathe properly again. But isn't everything good worth working for?