The power of positive thought

August 2020

Pantelis C. Fouli explains how you can develop resilience and the ability to deal with what life throws at you when you’re trying to work and study.

Mental toughness is a prerequisite in any area of one’s life, be it professional or personal. But just how can we take back our power, embrace change, face our fears and train our brain for happiness and success?

These are a few things, we as progressive professionals must not do:

1: We must not waste time feeling sorry for ourselves

James Gardner said it best: “Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” We need to understand that our thoughts are interpreted by the brain just as that – thoughts.

The brain cannot distinguish between positive or negative, thus wallowing in self-pity will just activate the sub-conscious to ‘look’ for surroundings or circumstances that are in line with your self-pitying attitude and guess what, it will make sure that it gives you more of that! Remember, you are what you think MOST of the time. So when I tend to find myself on a downer I do the following:

a. Be active. I tend to smash a few push ups or burpees – that tends to shift my state. Remember, it is our feelings towards our thoughts that is the issue here and exercise always seems to alter that.

b. Practice gratitude. Write down each day three things that you are most grateful for. I make sure this practice is a staple of my morning routine, even before I take my first sip of coffee (and I love coffee).

c. Serve others. The most rewarding act for a person’s inner peace is to perform an act of random kindness. Dr King said it the best: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

Performing a great deed can bring more meaning to your day and indeed your life as a whole.

2: Don’t give them power over you – do good, be good

Dale Carnegie hit the nail on the head with this one; he was spot on when he said: “When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.” Whenever we find ourselves venting to friends and family over issues we have with others we only fuel our own frustration and in turn waste our time and energy.

Retaining that power is being confident in who you are and in the choices you make, despite the people around you and the circumstances you are in.

Giving away this power leads to other followup issues like:

a. You become dependant on other people and external circumstances to regulate your emotions.

b. You let others define your self-worth.

c. You actually avoid in dealing and addressing the real issue at hand.

All these issues are created in the mind. If we have the power to create them, we then have the inner strength to deal with them. The way we do this is as follows:

a. Do good and be good: If you’re a decent human being then you need not think much about what others think or say about you. I tend to use the phrase, “what others think of me is none of my business”.

Reclaiming back your power is learning to not be so sensitive and learning to not take it all personally.

b. Think before you react. Every time we lose our cool we are giving away our power. When I find myself in such predicaments I do the following:

• Sit down with my eyes closed (if possible) and take in a few controlled breaths, this nearly always settles and quietens the mind

• Detach yourself. If I see that an argument is escalating I tend to detach myself from the situation, take a step back and try to see it from the other person’s view.

• Excuse yourself. If I see I am not getting anywhere in a conversation I will try and find a way to excuse myself. This will give both parties time to reflect on what was said. To be continued next month…

• Pantelis C. Fouli is ACCA qualified and an ACCA Advocate and student mentor. Connect with him via LinkedIn but please mention in the personal message that you are PQ reader.