Tony Robbins and Positive Thinking: 5 Techniques to Try

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Awaken the Giant Within" by Tony Robbins. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the best of Tony Robbins’ positive thinking techniques? How can positive thinking transform your mindset, mood, and behavior?

You possess the power to radically transform your life for the better through positive thinking. With certain tools, you can control your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to have an empowering mindset. Tony Robbins’ positive thinking techniques can help you transform your life for the better. 

Learn more about Tony Robbins’ positive thinking techniques below.

Tony Robbins: Positive Thinking to Change Your Life

To understand the importance of positive thinking, you need to know that the way you think affects your health, relationships, career, and overall quality of life. There are some critical things to know about the way thinking affects your life:

1) Two people can evaluate the same situation differently, based whether they are a positive or negative thinker. For example, imagine you’re playing basketball and you miss a shot. You evaluate it as an embarrassing miss, while your teammate evaluates it as an opportunity to rebound and score, and your opponent evaluates it as a chance to reclaim possession of the ball and win the game. Similarly, when your teammate misses a shot, their positive beliefs, state, questions, values, and references may cause her not to consider the miss to be embarrassing—as you did—but rather as motivation to make the next shot. 

2) People tend to generalize their negative evaluations, which can quickly snowball. For example, after you miss the shot in the basketball game, you might start to think that you always shoot bad balls, which puts you in a negative, disempowering state that could lead you to miss your next shot, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. From there, you may start thinking that you’re a terrible basketball player in general, which leads to thinking that you’re bad at all sports, which leads to thinking that you’re not very skilled at anything in your life. 

3) Successful people do a better job of evaluating things. Put another way, people who think positively are more successful than people who are negative. For example, Wayne Gretzky is the National Hockey League’s all-time high-scorer because he evaluated the game differently than other players—while his teammates and opponents skated toward the puck, Gretzky skated toward where the puck was headed. Gretzky’s evaluations weren’t necessarily more empowered than other players’, but they were more clever

According to Tony Robbins, positive thinking is one of the best ways you can transform your life. 

Tony Robbins: Positive Thinking Techniques

In this article, we’ll cover the best Tony Robbins positive thinking techniques to help you adopt a positive mindset today:

Change Your Physiology 

For Tony Robbins, positive thinking is linked to your physiology. First, develop patterns of physical states and movements that support a happy, powerful, strong emotional state. For example, if you’re standing tall and breathing deeply, you’ll feel more confident than if you have your shoulders slumped and your eyes down. 

To get started, try this exercise for the next seven days: Five times a day, spend one minute giving yourself a huge smile in the mirror. Each time you do, your smile will strengthen your neural pathway for happiness. Go a step further by also making yourself laugh three times a day. 

Focus on the Positives

In addition to adopting empowering physical patterns, make a habit of focusing on the positive aspects of your experiences. Your focus dictates how you view reality: Whatever you choose to focus on determines how you experience things and what emotions you feel. Therefore, if you focus on negative things, such as sad memories or future problems, you’ll feel negative, too. But, if you focus on positive things—like happy memories, or the good things about your present situation—you’ll feel positive.

Think of your focus as a camera lens and reality as a party: Your camera can only capture one small piece of the whole scene. If the camera focuses on a couple arguing at the party, it gives the impression that the party is full of conflict, but if you focus on a group of friends dancing and laughing, it makes it seem like the party is fun and lively. 

Your focus not only affects your interpretation of events, but also impacts your ability to overcome challenges. When you focus on the outcome you want, you will move toward it and increase your chances of reaching it. By contrast, when you focus on a problem or something that you’re afraid could happen, you’re more likely to manifest it—and if it comes to fruition, you’ll have wasted your time worrying about the potential problem instead of coming up with a potential solution. Similarly, when you’re driving a car, you subconsciously turn the steering wheel toward whatever you focus on, whether that’s the road ahead or the guard rail. 

Choose Empowering Beliefs

You can identify which associations and beliefs are impeding your success and recondition yourself to turn your disempowering beliefs and associations into empowering ones. Your beliefs dictate how you interpret your experiences, and these interpretations determine your decisions, which collectively shape your life. 

At its heart, a belief is a feeling of certainty about an idea, and your certainty is based on the experiences that you’ve interpreted as evidence—or references—to support the idea. Since, through imagination, you can find or create references to support any belief, you can turn any idea into a belief. Furthermore, you have the power to adopt beliefs that empower you. 

Global beliefs are the most influential beliefs, because they determine how you think about life or yourself as a whole. For example, you may have a global belief that life is a struggle. Altering your global beliefs through reconditioning can transform your life. Think of the impact of shifting from the belief that life is full of challenges to a belief that life is full of opportunities

Another type of belief, a limiting belief, forms when your brain oversimplifies your experiences. For example, if you’ve failed at your first few attempts to launch a business, you may develop a limiting belief that you’re not cut out for entrepreneurship, overlooking the fact that most entrepreneurs endure and overcome failure. 

Limiting beliefs can become self-fulfilling prophecies, as they inform your decisions, which dictate your actions, which shape your future. For instance, if you have the limiting belief that you’re not suited for entrepreneurship, then you won’t continue trying to start your own business, and you will never become an entrepreneur, essentially confirming your limiting belief.

To break your limiting beliefs, rely more heavily on references of imagination rather than experience. For example, as an aspiring entrepreneur, instead of focusing on your past experiences of failure, vividly envision yourself launching and growing a successful business. This will help you believe that you can do it.

Ask the Right Questions

Thinking is merely a sequence of asking and answering questions—in other words, virtually every thought you have is preceded by a question, even if it’s not one you consciously asked. The questions you ask yourself set the tone for your thought patterns, so it’s critical to make a habit of consciously asking yourself positive, empowering questions that will lead to empowering thoughts. 

For example, if you’ve tried and failed to skateboard three times in a row, ask yourself, “What do I need to do differently?” This is an empowering question that’s framed to find a solution, and it leads to empowering, concrete solutions, such as, “Adjust my footing.” Don’t ask yourself, “Why can’t I get it?” This is a disempowering question that leads to disempowering answers such as, “I’m not coordinated enough.” 

Use Empowering Language 

The words you choose to describe an event influence how you experience that event. For example, is your vacation fun or is it magical? Is the conference bustling or chaotic? The words you use determine the lens through which you view that experience.

Expanding on that, the words you habitually use—those that you use heavily in your daily conversations and internal monologues—influence how you experience life day after day. Think of it this way: Your body constantly relays sensations to your brain—through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. When your brain receives these sensations, it has to assign a label (a word) to each feeling in order to make sense of them. Rather than taking the time and mental energy to find the right word to precisely describe each sensation, your brain develops a habitual vocabulary to pull from quickly. If your habitual vocabulary is full of empowering words, you’ll constantly use words that color your experiences in a positive way. You’ll promote empowering thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Use Transformational Vocabulary to Alter Your Experiences

One way to use words to shape your experiences in a positive way is to use “Transformational Vocabulary.” This involves strategically replacing certain words that you use to change your emotional reaction to situations and events. There are two ways to use Transformational Vocabulary: 

  1. Use words that dull negative emotions and intensify positive ones. Replace your negative adjectives with milder or more positive ones (such as “peeved” instead of “livid”) and use softeners (such as “a bit” and “a tad”) and intensifiers (such as “extremely” and “unbelievably”). For example, think of something that recently infuriated you. Now imagine that, in that moment, instead of saying that you were furious or livid, you said that you were “a bit peeved.” 
  2. When you’re upset, use words that disrupt your emotional pattern to stop you from feeling upset (Step 3 of Neuro-Associative Conditioning). For example, replace the word “jealous” with “overloving,” which is a funny enough word that it might snap you out of jealousy and divert your thoughts to the reasons you love the person who’s making you jealous. 

Reinforce Positive Emotions 

While you address and learn from your negative emotions, be sure to also nurture your positive ones. The more you nurture your positive emotions, the better protection they provide against negative emotions.  

Here are 10 common positive emotions, or “emotions of power”:

  1. Love and warmth are among the strongest antidotes to negative emotions. If someone approaches you with anger or another painful emotion and you continually respond with love and warmth, you will eventually soften their negative emotion. 
  2. Appreciation and gratitude show your love for the gifts you’ve been given in life, and cultivating these emotions raises your quality of life. 
  3. Curiosity infuses your life with wonder and makes you want to do things that may have previously seemed unappealing, which can lead to empowering experiences. 
  4. Excitement and passion increase your energy and enthusiasm toward life. Passion inspires you to progress toward your goals more quickly because it turns challenges into opportunities
  5. Determination is the difference between succumbing to challenges and overcoming them. You need determination in order to accomplish your goals and improve your life. Determination requires courage to carry on in spite of challenges, and courage  banishes frustration and disappointment.
  6. Flexibility aids your determination because it allows you to adjust your approach when needed, which can make the difference between failure and success. If you’re too rigid and refuse to be flexible, then you’ll inevitably become stuck in the face of an obstacle. 
  7. Confidence gives you the strength to carry on in spite of uncertain challenges and outcomes. Cultivate confidence by having faith in your ability to do something and reach your goals. The more you practice being confident, the more you will feel confident. 
  8. Cheerfulness goes beyond feeling inwardly happy—cheerfulness spreads happiness to those around you, while also vanquishing painful feelings such as anger, depression, disappointment, fear, frustration, guilt, hurt, and inadequacy. Being cheerful doesn’t mean that you deny having challenges, but that you feel assured that you have the tools to overcome them, which raises your self-esteem. 
  9. Physical vitality is essential so that you can enjoy the other power emotions to the fullest. Remember from Chapter 5 that many emotions start in your physiology, meaning that there are physical adjustments you can make to improve your emotional health. For example, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep (six to seven hours is optimal) and breathing in a way that circulates enough oxygen throughout your body, both of which will energize you. 
  10. Contribution—or giving back to those around you and the world as a whole—is the key to living a rich and fulfilling life. Improving someone else’s life and making others feel better are two of the most powerful ways to improve your own life. However, contribution does not equate to martyrdom; be sure to continue taking care of yourself as you help others.

Apply It: Practice Emotional Mastery 

Mastering your emotions takes time, practice, and persistence. Start the process now with these two simple practices. Take note of how these practices positively affect you and start conditioning them to become habits:

  1. For the next two days, use the six steps of emotional mastery every time you feel a negative emotion. 
  2. Adopt global beliefs that minimize how often you feel painful emotions, such as “this too shall pass” and “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” 
Tony Robbins and Positive Thinking: 5 Techniques to Try

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Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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