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Positive Learning

You know how it goes. You worry about how late you’ve left it to start revising. You worry about what’s coming up on the exam. You worry about not being able to get to grips with the subject. You worry about letting your family and yourself down. And pretty soon, you will be berating yourself for not doing better. Think you don’t do it? Unless you are one of the lucky few who naturally praise themselves internally, all you have to do is listen to your thoughts for a while when you are studying. They are probably playing in the background without your even noticing.

‘I hate this; it’s so boring’, ‘I’ll never finish on time’,’ I can’t do this’, ‘I’m lost’, ‘Why didn’t I start working sooner’…choose your own phrase, we all do it.

The effects of negative thinking can be very destructive, especially when you need to work on your own, keep going on your own and stay disciplined and on target. Negative thoughts will produce negative emotions, like stress, depression, or anxiety, all of which will interfere with your ability to concentrate and your ability to persevere. They will even affect you physically, making you too tired to maintain the high level of work you need, especially if you are under pressure.

The solution is hard and easy. Hard because you have probably made a habit of negative thinking and habits take practice and time and effort to change. Easy, because what you actually have to do is not difficult.

Think of a friend of yours who is studying, and imagine yourself sitting beside them cheering them on. It wouldn’t be hard to do. The phrases would come easily to you.

‘You are doing great’, ‘Keep it up, look how much you’ve done already’, ‘I have every confidence in you’, ‘You can do it’, ‘Just a bit more’…You get the idea.

And it doesn’t really matter if you doubt them a little, or if you worry about how much they have to do, you would still realise that they need to be encouraged as much as possible while they work. Therefore doing the same for yourself and finding the right words to say is just as easy. So remember:

  • Stay positive, even if you don’t feel it; use positive phrases in your internal self talk. Don’t worry if you don’t feel it at first, just say the words and stop the negative thoughts.
  • Concentrate on any good you can find. On how much you’ve covered already. The fact that you are still at it even though it’s difficult, if the going is slow. The fact that you’ve even got yourself to sit down when the temptation to do something else was so great.
  • When you catch yourself daydreaming about failure or getting the one question you didn’t want, replace it with good dreams. Imagine everything going smoothly, picture it in your mind, play through every detail of yourself working efficiently throughout the exam, calm and collected, answering everything you need to answer, receiving your certificate of honours…enjoy the feelings it arouses, and then get back to work.