Do you suffer from any of these common stressful mental habits?
~Dwelling on possible future disasters or past hurts
~Taking things too personally
~Working yourself up so much about a little thing
We all harbor thinking patterns like these. In fact, some studies estimate that about 2/3 of our spontaneous thoughts are negative
Harmful thoughts can easily become habits, like repetitive songs that stick in your mind.
You can decide to ease this mental suffering and find more peace of mind.
So here are 4 tips to start to change your negative thought patterns and habits.
1. Become aware of the specific negative thought pattern.
Without judging yourself or reacting (yes, this is hard!), notice your thoughts.
Get yourself a 'thoughts' diary/journal.
Set your alarm throughout the day and write down all your thoughts and emotions you feel and think.
Among the flow of mental ideas and stories, you may notice a particularly persistent thought pattern. For example, maybe you tell yourself a story about a terrible catastrophe that could be about someone you love. You realize that this drama occupies far too much of your time and your mental headspace, and is completely out of your control.
2. Change that negative thinking habit.
Having become aware of your harmful thinking pattern and its negative effects on you, you actively and consciously decide to change it.
Your conscious decision to change is powerful.
I suspect that the power of a specific decision to change will also help clear the way for your mental habit change. Let yourself know that you intend to change your stressful mental habit for the sake of a more peaceful mind!
3. Start to use the thinking part of your brain to override your negative thinking pattern.
Negative mental habits, like harmful behavior habits, operate largely below your conscious awareness.To take negative mental habits off autopilot, you will need to decide to activate the thinking part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex) to catch and challenge your negative thoughts. But how can "The Thinker" do this? That’s where number 4 comes in.
4. Make a specific plan to change your mind for the better.
Have you ever read a really good self-help article and wondered why you still couldn’t help yourself? The good advice in the article just seems to slide out of your mind. Often the reason that nothing sticks is because you haven’t made Decision 4—the decision to adopt a specific plan for change.
To sidestep this common pitfall, read about three possible plans below with the goal of deciding on the best one for you. Of course there are many more plan possibilities than three, but you don’t want to get tangled up in an infinite number of options. So choose one of these 3 options and make a vow to practice it for one week. (If you truly dislike all these ideas, or think they wouldn’t work for you, there are more possibilities here.) The plan choices are:
Plan 1: Notice the negative thinking pattern, label it, and let it float away.
You’ve decided to stop dwelling on the idea that someone you love could get hurt. For starters, you might decide to label this negative thinking pattern, “The Lurking Catastrophe.” Or, more generally, you can decide to tell yourself, “It’s just a thought.” Shorter still, just label your inner story-telling like this: “Thinking.” Labeling your catastrophic fantasies will itself take the edge off them as described here.
Plan 2: Every single time you discover you are thinking negative thoughts, tell yourself gently but firmly, “Stop it!”
If you use thought-stopping every time, your targeted thoughts will begin to fade away. In addition, you might want to immediately turn your attention to the world around you. This technique works especially well when you know rationally that your mind is being unreasonable, but you still can’t stop the obsessing.
Plan 3: Give yourself a comforting message every time you get lost in a painful scenario.
Sometimes a repeating thought is just so painful that you may need a comforting thought to counter it.
Try this mantra: “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.” Just saying part of this mantra--like "May I be kind to myself"--will ease your painful emotions and thoughts. Or, choose or create any comforting message that works for you.
In my experience, mental habits are much harder to change than behavior habits. (This is why we need therapists and medications!) Don’t get discouraged if you need to practice new mental habits again and again.
To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
You’ll find it much easier to cultivate meaningful and helpful mental paths once you start to practice the 4 tips above.
To help you redesign your life and remove mental and emotional blocks that are holding you back why not book in with me for a FREE Discovery call to discuss your needs and to see how i can help you.
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