Keeping your thoughts positive is easier said than done. Most of us our plagued by negative, limiting thoughts and beliefs like:
I’m not good enough.
I’ll never be successful.
No one loves me.
And no matter how much we push those thoughts out of our heads, like the monster in a horror film that won’t die, they keep coming back. All those negative thoughts stress us out, sap our self-confidence and keep us stuck in a self fulfilling prophecy that creates exactly the future we don’t won’t.
We rely a lot on our thoughts. They tell us who we are and how we should live. But here’s the thing about thoughts, they’re just words inside your head. Stories you tell yourself about your life. However, when you pay attention to and believe the negative ones – reacting to them as if they’re the absolute truth – you get weighed down and feel unhappy.
It’s not the thoughts that pass through your head that impact your life; its the ones you take ownership of & think about all day long. —Michael Neill
While we think lack of opportunity, support, time or money hold us back, negative thoughts and beliefs are the number one thing that keeps us stuck in reverse and prevents us from creating a life we love. Fortunately, you can free your mind by using one of the following techniques from ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).
When you notice yourself getting swept away by your internal drama of thoughts, beliefs & emotions, STOP and recognize that this is happening. To empower yourself, imagine a big red stop sign, hold out your hand in the universal gesture of stop or say stop silently or out loud.
Once you’ve identified a limiting thought ask yourself a few questions:
Is this really true?
Who did I learn this from?
How does this thought make me feel and behave?
Who would I be and how would I feel with out it?
Is it keeping me from living the life I deserve and desire?
Then turn the belief around by creating a positive belief to replace your negative one.
- Step Back
The next time you have a negative thought focus on it for a few seconds. Then insert the phrase:
I’m having the thought that I am…
Notice how you feel? Now take it one step further and insert the phrase:
I notice I’m having the thought that I am…
What does that feel like?
- Silly Songs
This is one of my favorite techniques. It’s fun and great to use with kids and will help you to see how ridiculous your negative beliefs can be. Start by recalling a judgmental thought you tell yourself frequently. For example:
No one loves me.
I’m such a loser.
Notice how the thought makes you feel. Using a familiar jingle such as Row, Row, Row Your Boat or Happy Birthday sing the thought to yourself. Yes, you’ll probably feel silly. That’s the point. Notice how this technique puts a smile on your face and diffuses the thought.
When my daughter, Aly was going through puberty she experienced negative body image and was plagued by the thought “I’m fat.” Singing “I’m fat” to Frere Jacque helped her see how ridiculous her thought was and completely freed her from this harmful thought.
Having negative thoughts, feelings and beliefs is completely normal and natural. We all have them. In fact, studies show that about 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. However you don’t have to take your thoughts or yourself so seriously. Rather than fighting your thoughts just diffuse them, replace them with positive thoughts and then channel your energy into activities you value. Disempowering your negative thoughts is an act of self-compassion.
Change your thoughts and you change your world. — Norman Vincent Peale