Positive thoughts propel; negative thoughts stagnate.
It can be an enlightening experience to become witness to your thoughts – and surprising to realize how many negative thoughts enter your consciousness throughout the day. By reversing negative thought patterns, you will greatly increase your happiness, success, and well-being.
One of my favorite keys on the computer is the UNDO button. When you realize that you made a mistake, this magical button enables you to go back to the time before the mistake occurred and fix it! Taking that idea and applying it to our thoughts is easy once we're aware that it is possible. If we take the time to realize how damaging our negative thinking can be, we can "undo" and replace those thoughts with ones that better serve us.
What have we found with respect to how negative thinking impacts your life?
1. What you think about, you experience. Have you ever re-run a negative experience in your mind and ended up feeling angry or hurt all over again? The human brain is amazingly complex – but despite its incredible power, it is very logical in the way it processes information. When we are thinking negatively, the brain doesn’t realize that what we are thinking about is not really happening – and it will react to the thought the same way it would if the experience were happening now. It will quickly generate the emotions and reactions on cue. But it is only reacting to a thought!
What many people don’t realize, however, is that our thoughts can be directed and changed at will! If you are feeling angry, sad, hurt, fearful, or hopeless, take a look at what you are thinking. There are ways to re-direct and/or re-write your thoughts so that you can begin to bring in happier and more positive thoughts into your life and experiences. The ability to do this (which we all have) is key to making change in the negative patterns of your life.
2. Negative thinking inhibits your ability to achieve goals. For any objective, you have things pulling you toward your goal and other things pushing you away. When you think negative thoughts about achieving a goal, you’re much less able to accomplish it.
Imagine you’d like to take a trip to Hong Kong. This has always been a goal of yours. But then you start thinking about it:
• “It’s so far away, the jet-lag will be awful. I’ll probably spend half of the trip just recovering.”
• “The language is so different from English. How will I manage?”
• “I should spend the money on something else.”
• “I’ll lose a lot of money exchanging currency.”
• “I’ve heard Chinese prisons are the worst in the world. What if I break some weird law I don’t even know about?”
Suddenly, that dream trip to Hong Kong doesn’t sound so dreamy anymore. Negative thinking makes goals seem harder than they are in reality and can prevent us from doing and achieving our dreams.
These two negative effects are pervasive. They influence your entire life. But, there are additional consequences as well.
Negative thinking can limit your capabilities:
1. It’s damaging to your health. The stress caused by negative thinking is unnecessary and wreaks havoc on your health. Stress has been linked to all major health issues. Is it possible, then, that our thinking could be at the core of our health problems? I believe the answer is YES! Our thoughts are powerful – once we learn how to control them, miracles can happen.
2. It lowers your self-esteem and confidence. When you think negatively about yourself (I am overweight…I am not smart enough…I am disorganized…I can’t…I don’t…), it is difficult to feel good about yourself. Catch yourself thinking these thoughts or verbalizing these thoughts. If you wouldn’t say that or think that about your child or best friend, you shouldn’t be saying/thinking that about yourself! Love yourself and have compassion for your imperfections – then work to eliminate the reason why those negative beliefs are there to begin with. Awareness is the first step in the process.
Many of my clients are shocked to realize how negative their thinking patterns are. Sometimes it takes a little coaching to get to the bottom of it. Don’t underestimate the importance of turning those thoughts around. It is life-changing work!
3. It saps your energy. Negative thinking is exhausting and saps your resources. It is difficult to be upbeat and energetic when negative thoughts are swirling through your mind.
How to Limit Your Negative Thinking Patterns
Luckily, there are ways to limit your negative thoughts and bring in positivity each day:
1. Bring awareness to what you're thinking about. Check yourself throughout the day for negative thoughts, especially during these regular daily activities:
• Lying in bed
• Driving to work
• And so on
These tasks are frequently when we let our minds go on autopilot. Autopiloted thoughts will many times downward spiral if we're not careful. Be sure that you are at the controls!
2. When you notice a negative thought, STOP! Hit the mental “undo button” and change the thought to one that’s more positive. For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I hate commuting to work,” consciously UNDO that thought and think about why it is a good option for you. Something like, “Driving is way better than taking the bus. I can open my windows and sing with my music as loudly as I like.” Then go ahead and do that!
3. Get into the habit of thinking positive thoughts. Before doing any task, take 15 seconds and think a few positive thoughts about it. The task will be easier and more enjoyable. If you visualize what it will look like and feel like when done, even better!
4. Spend more time with positive people. We tend to conform to the people with whom we spend the most time. If you are surrounded with people who think negatively, it is a dangerous environment to be in – negativity is catchy! Notice the people who are positive – do they seem happier than the others? They are! Ensure that the people around you are positive.
Reducing the incidences of negative thinking is one of the most effective ways to spend your time and enhance your life. Negative thoughts can harm your happiness, success, and health. Spend time to ensure that your thoughts are supportive and positive and turn your life around.
This can be easier said than done – if you’ve tried to change your mindset and have not achieved the results you’re looking for, we can help! Check out http://www.newmoonselfdevelopment.com/coaching.html for more information.