Have you ever heard the saying, “You are your thoughts?”
Do you find that you have frequent negative thoughts? If you answered yes, consider this. Negativity breeds negativity. We get caught in a negative thought spiral and suddenly everything in our life seems messed up.
The good news is that we can change that! We can gradually make a habit of noticing when we have negative thoughts and shifting our negative thought patterns.
Note that I said “gradually”. A key to lasting habit change is to take small, actionable steps. If we try to change a habit in a short period of time, we simply get overwhelmed. That could lead to giving up on trying to change a habit. Guess what happens then? Yep. Continuous negative thought patterns.
The trick is to:
· Consciously notice an established negative thought pattern.
· Once you notice it, pause for a moment.
· Now, re-evaluate how you reflect on or think about the situation that caused the negative thoughts.
· Next, focus on something else that is positive.
You’re probably thinking, “Really? Do you think that works?” What we’re doing is basically switching gears in your brain, so your negative train of thought isn’t just looping around and around. We are disrupting negative behaviors and mental programming you may have learned throughout your life.
For example, if you grew up thinking you had to be the best in school and in other areas of your life, it’s likely you’re programmed to be a perfectionist, which can be stressful. (I speak from experience here!) Then, when you are not “the best” you get into a negative thought pattern (like, “I suck”) and get down on yourself. Making a mental shift is a way to combat your stress or snap out of those looping thoughts.
What are your most common thought patterns? How do you recognize automatic negative thinking and develop ways to reorient and give yourself the kind and constructive consideration you need?
One place to start is by noticing thoughts that include “I should” statements:
“I should do, act, or feel better.”
“I should exercise every day.”
“I should eat healthier.”
“I should stop thinking this way.”
“I should [fill in the blank}.”
You see, it is not the intention behind these thoughts that creates the problem. It’s a good thing to exercise three times a week or eat healthier. It’s the damaging word “should” we need to pay attention to. That little word can trigger guilt and send you into a rabbit hole of negative thoughts.
Should statements contribute to your negative “internal talk” that causes stress or anxiety. Why? Because you are putting demands upon yourself that can be extremely difficult to live up to.
So, let’s try this:
I should exercise every day.
I will try my best to exercise every day. Here’s how I could do it………
I should eat healthier.
I can eat healthier today by doing these things….
I should stop thinking this way.
I notice that I am having anxious thoughts right now. How might I think about this situation more positively?
If my best friend was having these thoughts, what would I tell her/him?
I should be more outgoing.
I will try to say something kind to one new person today. Here are some ideas of who that could be and what I might say….
Feeling like you should do, act, or feel a certain way only adds to the pressure you feel, which could lead to procrastination or avoiding it completely. THAT only leads to more anxious and negative thoughts.
Bottom line? Listen to your thoughts. Notice them. Are you telling yourself that you should do things? What is a kinder, more positive way of motivating yourself to stay on track with your goals without diving into those negative thought patterns?
Go ahead. Take a minute and write down some positive things that motivate you.
Take comfort in knowing that there is no ONE way to do something! Creativity can inspire and energize you. And, if you didn’t do something, it’s ok. Recognize it and see if there are other ways to accomplish your goal. This is how we grow, how we learn.
Are you interested to learn how a Health Coach can help you? Go to the Contact Us page on my website to schedule your free Create My Healthy Habits MAP Discovery Session. www.cgshealthcoach.com/contact-us
To Your Health!