Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning and caught yourself in the middle of a pity party, complaint session, or simply going through an old argument inside your head?
Maybe it sounded something along the lines of…
“Oh woe is me…”
“Why does it have to be Monday again? I hate my job, I don’t want to go to work today.”
“I can’t believe Suzy would be so rude to me, she always does that, and I’m just so stupid not to stand up to her. Next time I see her I am going to tell her…”
You may have recognized these scenarios as negative thinking patterns that just seem to be a part of life… and they run through your mind in automatic if you will.
In case you are wondering, having your mind run on automatic negative thinking patterns is super easy and super comfortable. From this place you get to stay within the boundaries of your own self-imposed limitations, you get to continue feeling sorry for yourself instead of facing your inner demons, and you get to settle for second best because going after your dreams means risking the very hope for a better life you hold on to.
Is that what you want?
I didn’t think so. SO, if you are ready to become the hero of your own story, you may have noticed that negative thinking patterns have got to go.
In the past few weeks I have written extensively about how it is normal to have negative thoughts. In fact, ironically, despite being the black sheep of the family, negative thoughts seek to protect us—sometimes at the expense of our best intentions and goals. I’ve also shared a Neurolinguistic (NLP) pattern for integrating negative beliefs. You may have tried any of these approaches… but today I have yet another approach to break through negative thoughts… and this time your focus will be in changing your present state.
When enough is enough
Ok, I am going to get all neuroscience nerdy on you: the truth about negative thinking patterns is that not only are they protecting you, they are also a survival strategy of the brain. You may have heard of the fight or flight response that we are all subject to as animals, a necessary mechanism if you want to survive in the wild where your next meal is faster than you are or a saber tooth tiger is quietly approaching. Unfortunately, the brain did not get the memo that saber tooth tigers are no longer around and that WalMart is just around the corner.
I am also willing to bet you want to thrive, not just survive. At least that is how I feel.
When I was faced with the stress and drama of negative relationships in my life some time ago, I would wake up almost every morning and review in my head, in a desperate attempt to defend myself against the injustices I thought I was experiencing, all of the things I could’ve, would’ve, should’ve said. It was exhausting.
Once I realized I was caught in an endless loop of negative thoughts, I set the intention to change my thinking patterns and taught my brain how to change its focus from negative thinking patterns to other positive thinking patterns and feelings. I also made sure to reduce my stress reactions by following certain specific steps.
So how can you change your negative thinking patterns?
1. Realize you are engaging in negative self-talk or negative thinking patterns.
When you set the intention to change your negative thinking patterns into positive thinking patterns, you must follow through with self-awareness. You have to find a way to get out of your head and notice you are focused on negative thoughts. A friend would pinch herself every time she had an unwanted thought. Eventually, her brain associated the negative thoughts with the pain she experienced when she pinched herself. In the end, she was able to stop herself before having negative thoughts because the brain has a natural aversion for pain.
2. Change your focus.
Now that you have interrupted the negative thinking pattern, you must chose to focus on something else, preferably positive feelings. An easy way to shift your focus can be taking 10 deep breaths and visualizing pleasant memories inside your mind’s eye. I also like to get the aid of classical or spiritual music to really shift my mood.
You will waver, you will question your convictions, but you must always stick to your conviction to change your thinking patterns. You will want to repeat this process as many times as is necessary, otherwise all of the work you have put into your personal development will have been in vain.
Ok, so what about you? What sort of negative thinking patterns are holding you back from living the life you want? Share your experiences bellow.
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