Take a moment to reflect on the dialogue you have in your mind each day. Most people experience a constant chatter in their head. For some, the thoughts come like a storm, fast and furious, while others the pace is slower but still constant. While the pace of our thoughts is important to note, the quality of our thoughts has a greater impact on our lives. Each thought we have is either positive or negative. Positive thoughts can help motivate, inspire and encourage us. While negative thoughts can discourage, confuse and even paralyze us. Are your thoughts mostly positive or negative?
All of our thoughts create a chain reaction. Negative thoughts are generally followed by a negative emotion which is then followed by a negative response in the physical body. For example, the thought “What if I am not successful in this business?” may create a negative emotional response such as fear. The feeling of fear often shows up in the physical body as tension (eg. lower belly tenses up or chest muscles tighten). Everything begins with a thought. While becoming aware of your inner dialogue can help, this chain reaction often occurs without our awareness.
We have about 60,000 thoughts each day and of those thoughts only 5% are in our conscious mind. That means we only hear 5% of what we are really saying to ourselves each day. The other 95% of our thoughts are an ongoing tape playing in our subconscious or habitual mind. Our subconscious thoughts are way more powerful than the thoughts from our conscious mind.
They usually come in clusters of thoughts that form a deep seeded belief. Every day we base our decisions on our subconscious thoughts and beliefs. The key to breaking this cycle is to bring more awareness to our thoughts and beliefs each and every day and purposefully shift our thoughts to more positive, encouraging and loving ones.
Creating awareness of our thoughts is the first step toward changing our minds and as we change our mind our experience of life will change as well. Remember I mentioned earlier that we have 60,000 thoughts each day; the good news is that we can only have one single thought at one single moment.
One thought will feed in to the next and the next and the next, creating the illusion of a storm of thoughts, but you can only have one single thought in each moment. This is great news because all you need to do is begin with the thought you hear, or start with a belief that you want to change. Awareness is the first key!
I would like you to take a moment and reflect on your inner dialogue.
How do you speak to yourself on a day to day basis?
Are you kind to yourself?
Do you speak to yourself the same way you would your best friend?
Are you supportive and encouraging or are your words harsh, judging and maybe even cruel?
The next step is acceptance. If you miss this step you can easily move to judgment. Adding further judgment will only keep you stuck in the self destructive cycle. For example, when you hear a negative thought, notice it, accept it and be willing to shift it. Acceptance will dissolve and further judgment and allow you to move to the next step which is action.
The most common action step to transform negative thoughts is using affirmations. An affirmation is repeating a word or sentence to your self over and over again allowing you to replace the negative thoughts with more positive ones. Many people struggle with affirmation and when they don’t see results quickly they get frustrated. It is more than just repeating the words, you need to bring the feeling and invoke the emotion in order to create the shift. Remember the path -> thought, emotion then physical response in the body. When you have negative thoughts you feel “bad”. When you use an affirmation you need to invite and encourage “good” feelings so that you are in alignment with your positive thoughts. It is in the feeling of the positive affirmations that allows transformation to occur.
I find gratitude is an easy example to use. I can say the words “I am grateful for my husband” but the words can be dead in the water unless I bring the feeling of gratitude into my body. As you repeat the words in your mind or out loud bring the feeling of gratitude into you heart. Imagine a warm feeling of gratitude in the center of your chest. You might visualize gratitude as a colour or an image. Invite the feeling of gratitude deep into your body all the way into your cells. When you allow yourself to feel deep gratitude your energy will shift and you will align your thoughts, emotions with your physical body, and you will “feel” better.
Ways to put this into practice:
- Choose an affirmation and say it to yourself at least 10 times, invite the “good” feeling into your body. Do this several times throughout the day especially first thing in the morning and before you go to sleep. Remember to bring the feeling of the affirmation into your body. Imagine as you say the words that they were true. Imagine how you would feel if your affirmation was true.
- Say your affirmation out loud or to yourself in the mirror. This can make it more real and create a deeper belief in your statement or words.
- For every negative thought you hear, replace it with a positive one and repeat the positive one at least 3 times (eg. “I am such an idiot” can be replace with “I am doing the best I can”)
- Remember you don’t need to believe every thought you have, in fact, most of our are not true and are based on F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real
- When you aren’t sure what words to use in order to shift your negative thoughts ask yourself “what would I say to my best friend in this situation?”
- Practice daily meditation to help regain control of your thoughts and quiet your mind. Close your eyes and imagine looking over to the right side of your brain. This is the reflective and creative side of your brain which will help you focus on the present moment. The left side of your brain is the busy, analytical side. This right brain meditation has helped many of my clients find peace as they slow their thoughts.
- Practice gratitude daily! Find one thing about yourself or your life that you are grateful for. Start a Gratitude Journal and each night write 3 things you are grateful for. Remember to invite the feeling of gratitude into your heart and body.
Be patient! As you continue to practice positive thinking it will become easier and more familiar. The more you practice you more confident you will become. Be your own best friend! Speak kindly to yourself! You deserve it!