Learning to recognise, critique and challenge your negative thoughts, has the power to change your life.
Over a period of months, I’ve kept an eye on my thought habits because I wanted to identify positive and negative patterns, and give consideration to my automatic self-talk and attitudes.
It’ll be no surprise, but what I spotted was a strong relationship between my negative thoughts and my levels of confidence and willingness to take action towards a goal. For example, I’d say, “I’m not good with numbers”, or, “Why blog, what have you got to say that’s worth sharing?” And the effects of both were clear to see.
To the first, I avoided doing budgets, and because of the second, I procrastinated in sharing my written thoughts and learning!
If you were to check your thoughts over a period of one to two weeks, what would you discover? You too might find that your thought habits don’t support you reaching your goals or taking action to achieve the things that are most important to you.
Maybe your thoughts are a barrier to you reaching your potential and you’re frustrated because of your lack of progress. It may be thoughts of not being a good parent, that you’re too old to get a job, or that you’re too unfit to start exercising.
Each of these thoughts can stop you from moving forward and making the changes you want to see. Knowing that your unhealthy or negative thoughts is key to you taking steps towards achieving your best (and your well-being), here are five steps that you can take to keep a handle on them.
#1. Identify your negative thoughts
Recognising your negative thoughts is the most important step to managing them. Consciously increasing your awareness of their disruptive impact will help in motivating you to take control of them.
#2. Be motivated to stop your negative thoughts
Being intentional about stopping your negative thoughts is the second most important step to challenging them. If you’re not motivated to change them, you’ll continue to live with their destructive consequences.
#3. Know the history of your negative thoughts
Understanding that your negative thoughts are birthed from past experience is key. What’s more important though, is being conscious that it’s your interpretation of previous events that fuels them, not the events themselves.
#4. Decide to have positive rather than negative thoughts
Thinking is something you’re unable to stop – you’ve probably noticed that it just happens! However, the choice is yours about which thoughts you want to base you life on – positive or negative.
Taking charge of your negative thoughts by reframing them into more productive ones, is a way of handling them.
#5. Address your negative thoughts patiently
Over the course of your life negative thought patterns become habitual. As a result, it’ll take time to change them into more helpful patterns of thinking. Knowing this, it’s important to go easy on yourself and be patient in allowing time to reach your desired outcome.
So, having recognised that negative thoughts can preventing you from reaching for better, just as I’m learning to do, you might also want to consider challenging any destructive thinking habits by trying these five steps.
What impact have negative thoughts had on you? How do you manage them?
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