Our health, both physical and psychological is very closely tied to how we think. Negative thinking is associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical problems. Research has shown that when we think positively, we feel better, sleep better, and take better care of ourselves, which in turn has a positive physical outcome. One technique I like to use with my clients, is the “as if” principle. It is fairly easy to do, and allows us to draw upon our imagination and creativity. Using the “as if” principle means that we decide what it is we want, and we start thinking “as if” it has already happened. For example, if you want to be less reactive to stress, picture yourself in your mind’s eye, as a calm person, adapting well to things and events as they occur, without feeling activated or tense.
If you want to lose weight, quit telling yourself you’ll never get back to your ideal size, but instead, picture yourself at your optimal weight, wearing attractive clothes, and feeling healthy and good about yourself. The theory behind the “as if” principle, is that as we think a certain way, those cognitions gain momentum, and drive our emotions and behavior. We are often aware of this momentum, when we have one of those days where one thing seems to go wrong after the other; however, when things go well, we often take it for granted, and are unaware of how our thought processes may play into these events, as well.
Another positive aspect of the “as if” perspective, has to do with thinking and perhaps even writing down, how you would behave or act, if what you want was already occurring. For example, if you are picturing yourself “as if ” you are in great shape, and healthy, you would likely be exercising regularly, eating well, preparing healthy meals, and making sure that you get enough sleep. When you think “as if” you not only picture these things, but make a conscious effort to start behaving, as if it already were the case. As you think, you are more likely to become, because your positive thinking engages your imagination, your will, and moves you toward your goal. So give it a try…first decide what is that you want, and think how it is you would be acting if this wish were already achieved.