I remember watching the movie, The Secret, a decade ago, and one of the most powerful lessons I took away from it was that thoughts become things.
We are literally creating our future with the thoughts we think.
The challenge we face is that if our thoughts are creating our reality and if our reality isn’t what we want, then that is feedback a change must be made to how and what we are thinking. We’re in total control of what we think which means we have the ability to change our thoughts if they aren’t moving us closer to what we want.
While we will not be able to turn off our thoughts, we can train ourselves to originate empowering thoughts consistently so that we can give more attention to the things that are important to us in life. The better we become at being able to direct our thoughts towards specific outcomes, the better quality results we will enjoy.
I have found that the sooner I can deal with any negative thoughts I have, the quicker I can release them. If I don’t address those thoughts quickly, they tend to linger in my mind and I keep thinking those same unhealthy thoughts over and over aagin. I have also found that if I take some sort of action towards changing my thoughts, those negative thought automatically start to dissipate.
Here are five steps that will help reduce and eventually eliminate unhealthy negative thoughts in our minds so that we can focus more on what we want rather than what we don’t want. It will take some level of commitment to carry out these steps but the reward will be well worth the effort.
- Examine the source of your thoughts. I once learned an acronym called WAIT which stands for What Am I Thinking? The average adult thinks between 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day and most of those thoughts are pre-determined by our conditioning, beliefs and our environment. We tend to fall into habitual patterns of thinking. If an experience or event has triggered certain type thoughts which we know are unhealthy, then it is our responsibility to find out why we are thinking those type of thoughts and generate better-feeling thoughts.
- Immerse yourself with inspiration and motivation. In my teenage years and in my early twenties, I went through a phase where my choice of music was not the best. I had started listening to rap music which was rife with explicit lyrics and fantasised violence. Needless to say, it wasn’t conducive to having a healthy frame of mind. I remember telling my university friends that I would stop listening to rap music once I had completed my studies. When I finished university, I really struggled to give it up. The problem was I didn’t have anything else to focus my attention on so I kept repeating my pattern. It took me several years before I was able to turn it around. I did it by focusing more on listening to personal development and inspirational programs rather than focusing on what I didn’t want to listen to. Since I was not giving any attention to rap music, it naturally faded away. It is so true that positivity has to be cultivated whereas negativity happens automatically.
- Get clear on what you want. Being aware of what we want and what is important to us is really the starting point. Once we are clear on that, we can examine where we are in relation to what we want and if our current reality does not match where we want to go, then that is useful feedback that we must change our thoughts. If we don’t know where we are heading, any road will get us there.
- Confront your fears. Our negative or limiting thoughts are triggered by our beliefs based on what we have experienced and learnt in life. Those negative thoughts quite often have some form of fear behind them. One useful technique to use to confront our fears and to turn them around is to ask ourselves these four questions, as taught by Byron Katie:
* Is it true?
* Can you absolutely know it’s true?
* How do you react — what happens — when you think that thought?
* Who would you be without the thought?
- Practice releasing negative thoughts. After we have examined our thoughts and confronted our fears, it is best to release those unhealthy negative thoughts through specific releasing techniques. These include applying The Four Questions technique as mentioned above, doing tapping, practicing meditation consistently, getting coaching, and if necessary, getting counselling or therapy. The key is to get in the habit of being able to quieten our minds so that we can give more attention to the things we want and let unhealthy thoughts go.
How we think is creating our future. If we want our future to be different, then we must think new thoughts. If we don’t, then it is almost guaranteed that we will continue to create the same type of results we are creating now. The best way to know what type of thoughts we have been thinking is to look at our results — if they are not what we want, then it is time to change our way of thinking.
Action Step: Apply The Four Questions method to an area of your life you have been struggling with. For example, if you have a health-related goal that you have not been able to achieve, start questioning the type of thoughts you currently have towards that goal.
Question: What can be another technique that can be used to overcome any negative thoughts?
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