Do you ever find yourself stuck in your thoughts? Do you find that most of the time when you are stuck, those thoughts are full of negative things like low self-worth, worry, guilt, what if's, anxiety, etc? Let me share this quote with you...
Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
-Chines Proverb, unknown author
If you've been following me for a little while then you know I'm a huge advocate for positive thinking. But listen, that doesn't mean I never find myself stuck in negative thoughts. Over the last 2 years I have had a lot of personal growth and now I am simply more aware of myself and my thinking. Trust me when I tell you this changing in my thought process has changed my words, my actions, my habits, my character and hopefully my destiny!
I don't want you to hit rock bottom before you realize how amazing life can be just by changing your thought process. I don't want you to continue suffering with your habits due to something that can be corrected. I don't want you to feel stuck in your character when you don't have to be! I don't want you to continue on this path for years the way I did before you realize that your destiny can be changed!
Changing your thought process is by no means an easy thing to do and it will NOT happen over night! It is still a process for me and I will admit that sometimes I struggle as I think everyone does at some points in their life no matter how positive their outlook is! It is also not one easy thing that will automatically help you. I truly believe it is a cocktail of things that you have to work at until it becomes a natural process. This involves giving yourself grace and taking things one step at a time, one day at a time and one week at a time!
I want to share some tips with you on how to change your thoughts from negative to positive so that you can change your words, your actions, your habits, your character and your destiny! These tips are not for everyone but you can use them to start and eventually find your own methods that work for you!
Mindfulness or becoming aware!
The first step is to become aware of your thoughts before they overtake you! Have you ever been sitting there or laying there trying to sleep and the next thing you know you are all worked up, an hour or two has passed by and you realize you've literally been sitting there full of negative thoughts? I have! This is called cognitive fusion or entanglement of thoughts. I did that everyday, multiple times a day for a very long time and let me tell you, if you are in this boat, GET OUT!
Becoming aware of your thoughts is the hardest part of changing your thought process. So how do you do this? So many things can help you become aware of what you're doing to yourself, what you're thinking about and how you behave based on these thoughts.
Regular mindfulness practice is a must! When I say practice I mean dedicated time in your day to become aware of the things your think about. Dedicated time in your day to get you out of the habit of cognitive fusion. Remember, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions and your actions become your habits. Cognitive fusion is a habit.
So what kind of practice does this take? First, meditation can do amazing things with your mindfulness process. If you scroll back to a few blog posts ago, I share my favorite meditation apps to use. You don't have to be alone in this. You can do guided meditation for as long as you need to (I still do guided meditation). Meditation is a habitual practice of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. While you focus, your mind becomes concentrated instead of struggling with that cognitive fusion. Once it becomes a practice, you will develop a tendency to focus on the here and now and you will become better equipped at ignoring the cognitive fusion.
Next, practice mindfulness during daily routines. Have you ever been doing the dishes or cleaning the house and you find yourself with wandering negative thoughts? You keep cleaning because you think it will help clear your thoughts but next thing you know so much time has passed and your still caught up in cognitive fusion? Bring some awareness to your daily activities. Instead of letting your mind wander, focus on what you are doing. Train your brain to "pay attention" to the here and now instead of lingering, negative thoughts. Accept yourself, as is, in that moment while you're doing whatever you are doing.
Next, slow down and allow yourself to do nothing and just be! Are you laughing at me yet? I laugh at this one all the time because this is almost impossible for me to do. I work hard at making sure I set 10 minutes aside to do this. It may not happen every single day but I try my best to do this a few times a week. I know that we live in such a busy world. We can never sit still and we are always going, going, going. I get it! Take a seat on the couch and literally allow yourself to do nothing for 10 minutes. Set a timer if you need to! Your body and your mind will thank you!
Next, no regrets, right? Pssshhhh. I used to live FULL of regrets. Why did I do this? Why did I say that? Stop doing that. Right now, stop! You cannot change anything in the past! More importantly the future is not here yet so why get worked up in your thoughts about it. Sure it's important to feel remorse for things from the past just as it's important to set goals for the future. Train your brain to think about here and now and not what's already happened or what may or may not happen.
Lastly, think before you speak. What is your motivation behind what you are about to say? What are your feelings or emotions before you say what you're about to say? Is it benefiting you? Is it about you or someone else? Are these words coming out because of your thoughts?! I think you get the point here.
Reality vs. Your Thoughts!
Once you become a regular at practicing your mindfulness, I promise you will be able to decipher between what is reality and what is just a thought. I was caught up in this for longer than I'd like to admit. There was a point in time where my thoughts were so rapid and so bad, I literally could not tell you what was real and was not. My thoughts controlled my life!
Becoming aware of what you are thinking about will lead you to understanding that those negative thoughts are just that, thoughts. Next time you get caught up in that cognitive fusion or entangled thought process I want you to grab a pen and paper. Write down everything you were thinking in a list format. Look at your list and point out what is reality and what was just a thought. This is similar to a pros and cons list but rather a reality and thought list. This is also super beneficial in helping you change your process of thinking. Sooner or later, you'll be able to point out things that are just not worth thinking about!
Redirect your thoughts.
Again, once you become aware of what you are thinking, this will be easy for you. Recognize that thought, put it to a stop and come into your senses. This doesn't have to be some overly dramatic thing. Just stop your thoughts and look around. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? It could be the sky, the ground, that wall that you stare at while you're at work. It could be the birds chirping, the cars driving by your house or the phone ringing. It could be the wind on your skin, the cold air on your nose or your baby's touch. Whatever it is, take it in for a minute or two. You will start thinking of something else!
Ask yourself these questions.
One thing I still do is ask myself a few questions when I get caught up in negative thoughts. I ask myself is it true? Is this thought effective? Is my mind just babbling on? Is this thought about the past or the future? Asking yourself these questions can help redirect what your thinking and realize that the negative thoughts are hindering you from your habits and your destiny!
Okay, that is all for now. I truly hope that if you suffer from a negative thought process you will allow yourself to cut this out of your life! Work on it one step at a time, one day at a time. I can assure you this.... you will feel better, you will feel accomplished, you will feel like you!