What would you rather spend your time on? Drowning in negative self-talk, or practicing new thoughts that better serve you?
It would be perfect if we could just say, "You know what, I don't like these negative thoughts about myself in my head. I'm simply going to stop thinking them."
The trouble is, these are patterns. They are thoughts we've had thousands of times.
Much like an old worn path in the woods, or an old dirt road... our minds will continue to take that path because it's habit, it's familiar, we don't know another path and our tires somehow just go back into those grooves even if we try to drive a slightly different path.
You will have to SHOW YOURSELF a new path, and you will have to practice driving it in your brain.
Your brain will not take a new path simply because you tell it to, just like your brain will not suddenly know a foreign language or how to build rocket ships because you told it to.
You will need to put a little work in.
It often changes faster than you think!
The work might be painful, but work is rarely painless, right?!
It might happen slowly, but it's still better than it not happening at all, right?
So what's the work? How do you practice changing these thought patterns?
You practice NEW thoughts!
There's some nuances to this that I teach in The Choosing Positivity Circle that are lost on this basic instruction. So if the below isn't enough for you, I urge you to check that out.
PRACTICING NEW THOUGHTS - EXERCISE:
Step 1 - Consider what negative thoughts you often have that you wish to change. Write them down! If you can't think of any, just bring awareness to this process and you will start to notice them as they happen and you can jot them down later.
Step 2 - Think about the thought you WISH you believed about yourself instead of the negative thought. This is the starting point for your new thought that you will practice.
But before you just jump right on practicing this thought, you must choose wisely.
Here's an example: Let's say that I think to myself, "oh my God, I am such a failure because I have bad love relationships."
What I wished I believed: I am really great in relationships.
Step 3 - Carefully consider your new thought from step 2. How believable is it? If you do not believe it at all, practicing something you do not fully believe may do more harm than good. You do not want to force yourself with this and you don't want to falsely believe it. If you can believe this thought, then by all means, move to the next step. However, if you do not, this needs to be your GOAL thought, and something you work towards believing. But this, will not be your new thought to practice.
Let's work with the "I am really great in relationships" assuming I do not believe that at all, because I currently believe I'm a failure at relationships.
I do NOT want to try to force that thought.
Step 4 - (Skip if you wholeheartedly believe your thought from # 2 without a doubt.) If you do not, then you must do a quick exercise!
EXERCISE: List out 3-5 thoughts IN BETWEEN your original negative thought and your new (or goal) thought.
- NEGATIVE THOUGHT: Here's an example: Let's say that I think to myself, "oh my God, I am such a failure because I have bad love relationships."
IN BETWEEN THOUGHTS THAT YOU CAN BELIEVE:
- I am not a failure, I just have had some failed relationships, but this doesn't mean I am a complete failure or that all of my relationships will be failures.
- It takes two in every relationship, and I tried my best in mine but they just didn't work out. Not all relationships work out.
- I'm not doomed to fail EVERY relationship because I failed at 3.
- Everyone has failed relationships, I am not an exception. This doesn't make me a complete failure, plus I have learned from them all.
- GOAL THOUGHT: What I wished I believed: I am really great in relationships.
Continue writing in-between thoughts until you find one that you believe that makes you FEEL better about the situation.
STEP 5 - Once you find your new thought to practice, you can do one or all of these, whatever makes you feel best!
- Write this new thought out 5x per day for as long as it takes you to start thinking it naturally or evolve toward your goal thought.
- Say the new thought out loud to yourself in the morning or before bed, say it in the mirror if you'd like.
- Write this new thought on a post it and stick it on your desk so you are reminded of it.
- Set a reminder on your phone to go off and pop this thought up!
Don't know where to start? If you don't know where to start, here are some common thoughts that folx struggle with and new thoughts to practice. ;)
DON'T FORGET! If you find any of the thoughts on the right side below unbelievable, then write down some in-between thoughts until you find one you can easily believe that relieves some suffering for you.
EXAMPLE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
1. I suck, no one will love me.
2. My pay sucks but I'm not very smart so I will probably make crap pay forever.
3. I try so hard, but still make a lot of mistakes as a person.
4. I wish I could be better for someone.
5. I suck at communication and/or I'm so misunderstood. I hate that I've upset someone or started a fight.
6. I cannot believe I made this mistake, I'm such an idiot. I hate myself for this.
7. I wish I could do <insert something someone you admire is doing> but I just don't have what they have.
EXAMPLE THOUGHTS TO PRACTICE
1. I am worthy of love.
2. I am capable of making 6 figures and deserve to.
3. I am committed to being the best version of myself I can be.
4. I am enough.
5. Sometimes humans misunderstand each other, and that's ok. We might not all get along all the time.
6. Humans make mistakes, and mine will not ruin me. I will learn & move on.
7. I can do anything I set my mind to if I just learn and practice like this person did
For those of you who like things laid out for them in a workbook format, I created a worksheet based on this blog post, which you can find here.
Finally, if you want to take this a step further, it's helpful to work on a few other things in conjunction with this practice. My number one recommendation would be the Choosing Your New Mindset Workbook for $9.99.
Don't hesitate to DM me on Instagram if you want help understanding this process!