Did you have a negative thought today?
Are you more like Eeyore than Tigger?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. It seems we have anywhere between 50,000 and 60,000 thoughts each day and, according to some research, as many as 80% of them are negative and around 98% of them are exactly the same thoughts we had yesterday.
In other words we continue to tell ourselves the same stories over and over…most of them negative. I don’t know how valid this research is, but if it’s remotely true, it doesn’t bode well for living a rich, fulfilling, successful life for any of us.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough:
“Many negative emotions such as anger, fear, and frustration become real problems when we use them consistently. Soon they turn into a consistent outlook on the world, says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD, science director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.
This isn’t really such a big surprise since we’re all aware of the mind body connection. Right?
But switching up the way we think doesn’t always come easy…so here’s an awesomely simple way to cut back on negative thinking that has worked really well for me over the years.
Understanding the negative reruns
Too often we rerun negative conversations or experiences over and over in our mind until we sink deeper and deeper into that black hole of negativity.
Or maybe you have a habit of thinking negative things about yourself?
You know the ones. “I’m such a failure. “I’m never going to have that great relationship.” “I never seem to get ahead.” “I’m an idiot.” Or whatever your negative thoughts about yourself might be.
And believe me you’re not alone in this. We all do it.
We get so caught up in the thoughts we think and the feelings we have that it seems as though we are one with them. So not true dear ones.
Before you get stuck in that spiral of negative thoughts that lead down the rabbit hole to unhappiness and stress try a little distance perspective.
For instance you could be struggling with your weight and you feel ashamed because you ate that extra cake or cookie or bar of chocolate, instead of fighting against the feeling and thoughts you have about how ashamed you are, you say to yourself “I’m experiencing the feeling of shame.”
Or if you find yourself thinking about how others are so much smarter, greater, more beautiful, more anything than you, you can get some distance perspective by telling yourself “I’m having the thought that I’m not as good as anyone else.”
Somehow putting those negative thoughts and feelings into a more distant framework gives them less power over us and you can begin to move through them without allowing them to influence your behavior or your life.
How do you think?
Generally our thoughts come in the shape of words, pictures or feelings, or all three together.
I’m an all three type of person, but if you’re not it doesn’t matter because you’re going to be able to reach a point when you can say to yourself: “These thoughts only exist in my mind.”
And that thought alone will take you to that awesome place where you’re able to discern the difference between what you imagine and what is actually happening in your life.
Setting up an aim
The hard and difficult reality is that you don’t have control over lots of things that happen in your life…but you absolutely have control over your inner wellbeing and happiness.
Notice how you’re feeling when thinking along those negative loops that are so easy to get caught up in. Not great. Right?
Suppose you could alter that? Imagine for a moment that you’re madly in love with someone. Would I have to tell you to think about that love? Not likely. That person would rule your mind.
That’s what we’re looking for. An idea that feels so good, that you’re incredibly invested in, that can rule your mind.
The plan is to always have an aim from which to think. One that fires up your mind. One that creates positive images and feelings.
It can be anything. Want to be a writer…imagine that happening. How would you feel to have sold millions of copies of your book?
Or maybe you created a new business, or your finances took a turn for the better, or your health turned the corner. Imagine that, or any other thing that rings your bell.
Create that image in your mind’s eye and relish the feelings that it engenders.
It’s a little like Pavlov’s dog. The one that knew when the bell rang he would get treats. That’s the role your new idea is going to play.
Each time your mind returns to a negative thinking loop you’re going to picture your new image in the corner of the old one. Smaller, but visible. A little like ‘picture in picture’ on your tv.
Connect to the feeling of your new image and then switch up the images, making the smaller, happier, image bigger and the negative one smaller.
Swish your way out of negativity
The final piece of the puzzle is about to be revealed. This is the final ringing of the bell.
Play around with the images, until you get clear on moving them around in your mind. Negative one gets bigger, positive one smaller. Then the other way around.
I used to do this as though I was Harry Potter with my wand. I’d swish one image smaller and then swish them back again, until I got familiar with the technique. I was swishing my way out of one into the other, like a broom swishing across a floor covered in debris, leaving it clear and sparkling.
I’d actually mentally hear the swishing sound. As you do this you’re mentally training your mind to move along new tracks of thoughts, until you can finally swish the negative thought loops into oblivion.
When you have an unwanted thought or feeling you simply replace it with the better thought or feeling.
You can do this with anything. Try it and see.
One of the heaviest loads we carry are the toxic words we speak to ourselves. And the more we dwell in the negative, the more accustomed our mind becomes to occupying the energy of negativity.
You might not be able to change the past, but the future is yours to shape. Instead of revisiting what happened, or worrying about what might happen, choose what the future holds, choose what will happen moving forward. Give your life the outcome you desire.
And instead of allowing those negative thought loops to infect every aspect of your life swish them away.
Life is too big and too short to pollute it when you can fill it with beauty and positive energy. You deserve a life you’re excited about.
Encourage one another.