The mind is a powerful thing. It conjures up unwanted thoughts that are so tenacious that, try as we might, we cannot shift them. It defines our perception of ourselves and our surroundings, even if that perception is harmful.
But you can banish those thoughts and change the way you view the world, using that same power of the mind. All it takes is a few tweaks, says clinical hypnotherapist Laila Saif.
A simple exercise demonstrates how we construct beliefs.
Every thought, whether positive or negative, generates emotions, says Saif. “If you’re constantly berating yourself with talk such as ‘I’m no good at this, I can’t do it,’ you will eventually internalize that thought, which then converts to a negative emotion and thus behavior.”
This can even manifest itself in physical ways. Repeat to yourself the words “This is too depressing, I can’t do it” for two minutes and the body will invariably tense up with angst. Some even feel heat building up in the chest.
Change the phrase to “I’m too excited and happy” and the body language changes.
“A word or sentence, whether you feel it or not, has an immediate reaction in your body,” says Saif.
If you’ve ever wondered why you react to things in a certain way, it means a part of you is still unhealed, she explains.
“It hijacks your behavior,” she says. “So sit still with yourself and ask what you felt.”
Saif asserts that a person’s reality is a reflection of what is happening in their inner self.
“It’s common to get defensive, when you think everything is going wrong and it’s not your choice or your fault,” she says. “But the moment you calm your ego and realize it is within your control to end that feeling, you can shift anything. It can take time, sometimes even years, but you can resolve it.”
To change a negative mindset, focus on the desired outcome of a situation.
“If you tell yourself you’ll be late for work, you’re likely to be late,” says Saif. “However, if you say to yourself, ‘I want to reach work on time,’ it will make your life easier. Another example would be ‘I hope the train isn’t crowded.’ Change that to ‘I hope there’s enough space.’ Turn the negative into a positive.”
Saif speaks from experience. For 15 years she worked in corporate HR and management and wondered why she felt unfulfilled.
“Five years ago, I was on a hamster wheel,” she says. “I was just a job title. I had no idea who I was. I thought my life was great but I was in complete denial.”
A visit to a wellness center in Abu Dhabi to check her energy levels proved to be transformative. “In one hour, it changed me,” she says.
A check on her chakras revealed she had blockages and hypnotherapy exposed the toxicity in her life. Saif admits she “had no clue what was going on” but she knew she wanted to understand.
“I’m a left side of the brain person – I wanted to know the analytics and science behind it,” she says. “It made me realize we are taught geoscience at school, but we are not taught about the science of our emotions. It should be obligatory.”
Earlier this year she opened her own wellbeing center, lluminations, on Reem Island in Abu Dhabi, where she offers hypnotherapy, energy healing and cleansing, chakra balancing and treatment for overcoming fears and phobias and issues concerning relationships and career.
This is her advice, in a nutshell, for harnessing the power we all have – the power of thought: align what is in your subconscious mind with what your conscious mind wants, to make it a natural partnership.
“It happens with a lot more ease than you think,” she says. “Our minds are an incredible tool that can manifest and create the life you want.”
- Laila Saif conducted a session on thought power at the first Livehealthy Festival on January 24-25, 2020 at Manarat Al Saadiyat.
Georgie Bradley is a British/Greek editor and journalist based in Dubai after being bred in Bahrain. She's been published by The Guardian UK, The Telegraph UK, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post UK, Buro 24/7 and Harper's Bazaar Arabia. Most recently she was the deputy editor of Emirates Woman. You're most likely to find her in the aisle seat.