Monday, August 18, 2008

Using Helium Balloons to Start Change

I sometimes like to think of thoughts as sand bags and Helium balloons. Have you ever heard the expression ‘feeling 10 feet tall’. Some of our thoughts are like helium balloons. They are positive & optimistic and literally lift us up off the ground! They fill us with confidence and other positive emotions that allow us to try new experiences, meet new people, learn new skills and develop as a person.

To provide balance, other thoughts are like sand bags. They are tied to our legs and help us to keep our feet on the ground. We all think negative thoughts and they are normal and important part of life. When our thinking is in balance we can stand up tall and think with what I like to call ‘realistic optimism’. This balance of thinking can assist us to be positive and optimistic but also maintain a sensible approach to our day to day activities. At the extremes of the thinking styles are the people that are ‘led balloons’, and the person with their ‘head in the clouds’. The lead balloon is so tied down with sand bags that they cant be moved by themselves or anybody else. The person with their ‘head in the clouds’ is so oblivious to important day to day issues and the goings on in the world that they just fly around willy-nilly at the mercy of the wind, not dealing with day to day problems that are building up.

It is important to main a balance between positive and negative thoughts, and this balance point is called realistic optimism. When it comes to health and fitness it’s important to be aware of your thoughts as negative thoughts lower self confidence and can jeopardise your physical activity and healthy eating plans. Examples can include doubting yourself, anticipating disastrous consequences, criticising yourself.

Getting off the ground

When people are faced with a habit, behaviour or situation that they want to change there needs to be a shift in the balance of balloons and sand bags. Human beings have an equal ability for suffering and for change. There is an equal ability to either maintain the status quo (with a focus on the present) or to change behaviour to adapt to new needs and requirements or desires. But if we want to change an existing behaviour we need to give ourselves help by getting rid of some sandbags!

Thinking for Change (with a focus on the outcome).

Thinking for change, or Realistic Optimism is a strength that enables individuals to become more open to change to adapt to new situations or needs. Alternatively thinking for justification, or analysing and providing reasons for why we do things serves at some level to maintain the status quo and tends to prevent change. Your mind has learnt to balance the helium balloons with the sandbags to keep you living with balance. So if you want to change your lifestyle and get your balloon off the ground, it is important to get rid of a couple of the sandbags & to increase the number of balloons.

Sometimes, our sandbag thoughts can be tied quite tightly to our legs, so it can take a bit of practice to learn how to untie the knots but in the Spark program there are many different tools and techniques for removing sandbags and cutting ropes! The following activity provides an opportunity to transform your Sandbag thoughts into more productive Helium Balloon thoughts.

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