HOW TO CHANGE YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
I was at my church group a couple weeks ago and the topic was our thoughts and how they influence our lives. I am adapting what I learned from the lesson my pastor taught us about how we can take charge of our thoughts. Through studying for my life coaching certification I have come across a lot of information about thoughts and how they dictate behavior. Some stats on thoughts: you have about 50,000-70,000 a day, but I have read 80-95% of those thoughts were the same thoughts you had the day before. So if you want to start to make a change in your life, your thoughts are a great place to start!
Where to start:
Become Aware of Your Thoughts: A lot of time we live on autopilot with our thoughts. They stream through our minds very quickly, most of the time they go unnoticed. But sometimes our thoughts trigger emotions and those emotions influence your behavior. I used to have a negative filter as I went through life, especially about my body. To be honest, sometimes I still do. It wasn’t until I started to become aware of the thoughts I was actually having before I was able to start changing how I thought about myself.
I used to hate the dressing room. It still isn’t my favorite place on earth. This is typically what it was like in the dressing room. I would start to try something on and instantly jump into all the reasons I hated my body and then started to beat myself up. ‘I could lose weight if only I had more control if I had willpower, why am I so weak! I am such a loser no one is going to like me if my body looks like this.’ UGH! (definitely, a great place to insert the eye roll emoji!). These thoughts were not new they went through my mind many times a day typically when I looked in the mirror. Until I was able to become aware of these thoughts and start to change them I would repeat these mean things to myself all the time and not even realize it.
Your thoughts can also keep you from living the life you want. I had this experience while I was out of town. I own a small comfy blanket with an eye mask for traveling. I was on an early flight that was going to be four hours and I really wanted to attempt to sleep (something I deem impossible on flights). I normally try to get a window seat, but I was only able to get a middle seat and all of a sudden I was completely self-conscious about using my eye mask. My thoughts went something like this: ‘you are in the middle seat more people will see you! Everyone will think your eye mask is ridiculous and think you are weird!’ First off last time I checked I am not a mind reader so these assumptions I am making are completely made up! Secondly, who cares! If I love the eye mask and want sleep then I should get some sleep! I used the eye mask and though I didn’t get any sleep I am still proud of myself for doing it anyway.
Take Charge of Your Thoughts: So after practicing becoming aware of your thoughts, you will be able to identify what you are actually saying to yourself. The next step is to take charge of the thoughts you want to change. As the thoughts come up to tell them you no longer believe those thoughts to be true. My pastor mentioned this in our church group, and I started to practice it anytime anxiety or a self-limiting belief started to come up. This has drastically improved my emotions & behaviors while cutting down on anxiety.
Follow it Up With Something Positive: This doesn’t mean you have to swing the negative thought into a positive thought. It just means you have to follow up the negative thought with something positive. Let me an example, I am not fully on board with affirmations because I think sometimes it is hard to go from a negative limiting belief all the way to a positive one. It can feel like a lie. Example, if you become aware that every morning when you look in the mirror you think to yourself I hate my body, it is going to be really hard to believe yourself if you all of a sudden you start to say I love my body. However, you can find a positive thought to follow up with. Example, if you say I hate my body catch yourself and say I do not believe that thought, and I am happy to be alive today.
Another example would be, I always have anxiety when I fly, stop yourself and say I do not believe that thought, and I am happy I am able to travel.
Negative thought/limiting belief starts to arise / Stop the thought by saying I do not believe that thought / then follow up with a positive fact.