My husband called me the other day and asked me: “How do I break the pattern of negative thoughts? I am driving right now and these thoughts just come to my mind …”
And this is when it dawned on me that negative thinking is an addiction, the same way as any other destructive behavior. After our conversation, he suggested that I write a blog about this because it will be very beneficial to a lot of people. And here I am…. 🙂
The first step to changing any behavior is to become aware of it. If you don’t know that it’s there, you can’t change it, can you? 🙂
Oftentimes, you get more than one negative thought rushing through your mind. One thought comes in and triggers a hundred more after that. You start thinking of any possible negative outcomes… Sounds familiar?
Once you identify it, you need to break your pattern. And you have a few different options to break your pattern.
The first one is to change your physiology. Notice your current physiology. Are you slouching, head down, shoulders hanging, facial expression? Whatever it is now, you need to change it right away, preferably to a complete opposite. Get up, put your shoulders back, lift your head up, start smiling, even if you don’t feel like it. “Fake till you make it.” Research has shown that if you smile even for a few minutes, your brain starts working differently. You will start feeling better within a few minutes.
The next thing is to shift your focus. Whatever you were focusing on did not serve you well. You need to change it. And you can simply switch your focus by asking yourself a few questions, such as:
- What am I grateful for?
- Who do I love?
- Who loves me?
- What can I be excited about?
By asking yourself these questions, you will change your focus instantly.
And the last thing to interrupt your pattern, but definitely not least, is you need to change the language you are using. Your language is the filter to a meaning you assign to things. Your language is the major factor in what things mean to you.
Analyze your vocabulary and what you are saying at the moment. Become aware of it. Is this even your language, or you have adopted someone else’s language?
With the language you use, you can move from a painful state to a joyful one. Change your language and you will change your life!
Notice when you are experiencing these negative thoughts. What was the first thing that came to your mind? Did something trigger it? The more awareness you will have about what triggers it, the faster you can change your negative patterns.
You need to find the source of what is causing these negative thoughts. If you don’t know what triggers it, you will continue experiencing these bad thoughts and emotions in the future. By understanding the triggers, you can either avoid those triggers in the future or assign a different meaning to them in your mind.
The reason you are having these specific thoughts at a certain time is because of certain emotions. What is the emotion you are feeling that triggers these negative thoughts?
For example, you might have an upcoming important presentation at work. And you might be thinking that this presentation is too complicated, that you don’t have enough time to present all the information you need to present in a given time, that people that you will present it to are too judgemental, and so on…
And you might be just stressing out about this upcoming presentation more and more. The emotion that you are feeling in this situation is fear.
Make this emotion your friend instead of your enemy. How can you do this? You can assign a different meaning to this emotion. You are letting fear control your current state, and this is making you more and more stressed about the upcoming event.
What if instead of letting this fear stressing you out, you would assign a different meaning to this fear, such as a warning that you need to prepare more for the upcoming presentation. Maybe you need to rework this presentation and consolidate some information, maybe you need to practice a few more times using the timer, etc.
You can assign any meaning you want to any situation or emotion you are feeling. Once you change the meaning – you will completely change your experience.
Most of the things that control us are the patterns that we are not even aware of. And these patterns of these negative behaviors that are a part of our lives. Sometimes we are changing our negative behavior, but it’s a one-time thing.
You can change your behavior this time, but if the old emotion associated with this behavior is still there, this behavior will come back. So, in order for you to change your behavior, you need to change your emotions, and to change your emotions – you need to change the meaning. Destroy the components of specific behavior, and you will start destroying your negative behavior.
To sum it all up, below are the 5 key components to change your negative behavior:
- Become Aware
- Break the Pattern
- What’s Causing It
- What is the Emotion
- Change the Meaning
As always, remember: You are in charge of your own happiness!!!
And if you need guidance – I’m here for You!