Limitless and unmindful Negative thoughts:
An average of 12,000 thoughts crosses our mind daily. How many of them are we mindful of? How many of them are positive, loving and compassionate not only towards others but towards ourselves? Science research shows that 70% of our thoughts are negative. Sure, it is not like we are aware of 8,400 negative daily thoughts so why does it matter you may ask? Because our nervous system translates every single thought we have into chemicals, the neurotransmitters, which directly affect our cells and our biology.
|Most of these negative thoughts are automatic. It has been scientifically measured that we are using our conscious mind at most, 5% of the time on an average day; the other 95% of the time, our subconscious is in control.
The subconscious mind is the automatic part of the mind, the habit mind. It runs vital physiologic activities and programs and stores all of our memories, emotions and experiences. It also contains amnesiac memories (forgotten memories), impulses, compulsions, and habits. So you are not really choosing how you respond to a situation: your ‘habit mind’ has chosen for you.
Automatic negative thought patterns are triggered when there is a gap between how we consciously present ourselves to the world and what we truly believe deep down. They act as irrational justifications that help us avoid the pain. The problem is not that much that we have negative thoughts but is that we believe they are true. And that makes our life so much harder.
Passing the Blame:
One of the most common negative thought patterns is the ‘blame game’. When we blame something or someone else for the difficulties we encounter in our life, it becomes very difficult to change anything about our situation. Essentially, we convince ourselves that we give away our power, and let someone else determine how we feel and who we are.
Here are some powerful questions and little tricks to go in 5 steps from chaos to clarity:
1. Is this true?
In certain uncomfortable situation, you may find yourself blaming something or someone else for the difficulty you encounter. Just pause, take a few deep breaths to quickly balance your energy. Then ask yourself if something or someone else has really the power to dictate how you feel? Even though you may not see at the moment how it is possible for you to react differently, you will rapidly realize that you are responsible for your feelings and reactions. Responsibility empowers you to eventually choose differently.
2. What is the title of that story?
Many times our thoughts are repetitive and involve the same story. You may find yourself rehashing the same story over and over. For example, my story used to be ‘everyone takes advantage of me’. When thoughts come up along that storyline, I can say ‘Oh…here is my ‘poor me’ story and just let it go. Like a movie you have seen several times, the attraction has greatly diminished as you are more than familiar with the plot.
3. Can I change the outcome?
When we replay the same story over and over, we usually explore a variety of different endings, giving us the opportunity to mentally rehearse what we wish would have been different. Can you really change the outcome of what has happened? The answer is obviously no. Accepting the outcome ‘as is’ enables us to ‘get unstuck’ and move forward.
4. Let them float away
Imagery is extremely powerful. These mental images are used by our subconscious to store all the data, memories and experiences it contains. Our subconscious reacts the same way to a mental image as it would to a real situation (for example, like when absorbed in the plot of a scary movie and getting scared when the white mask appears on the screen). Pretend that you can place your negative thoughts into a balloon and then imagine releasing it, floating away from you. When another negative thought arises, put it in another balloon and watch float by.
5. Affirm your greatness
One of the subconscious’ main functions is to ensure our security and safety, using basis mostly developed in our first years of life. The safety and security views of your 5 year old self may greatly differ from those of your adult self, creating gaps conducive to cognitive distortions and negative thoughts patterns. Do not underestimate the power of your own suggestions and use them to reframe what your subconscious hold true about yourself. For example, you may use ‘I love myself’, ‘I approve of myself’, ‘I appreciate myself’, ‘I care about myself’, ‘I deserve good in my life”, etc.
Using affirmations to boost your self-esteem helps you adopt a strong stance to face confidently any demands that may arise with clarity.
Every habit is formed over a period of time. In the same way, changing a habit of negative thinking will require some time. So keep practicing these 5 steps from chaos to clarity consistently and smile. Life is good!