Many years ago I was beaten down from life. Other people could have used a variety of words to describe me. All of those words would have been indicative of the fact that 90% of my daily thoughts were negative. I have been told that the average amount of adult American thoughts that are negative is 85%. Is it ay wonder why the vast majority of our society views themselves as unhappy? If anyone at that point in my life had tried to describe my thoughts as negative, I would have adamantly argued that they were wrong. In that moment my perception was that I didn’t actually engage negative thoughts, I was just realistic. It never occurred to me that there is no reality and that it’s all about perception. I couldn’t even phantom the concept that my thoughts create my reality.
People who utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can recite at least three thought stopping techniques off the top of their head. My issue with this is….then what? I mean so I stop the thought. Does that remove the electrical charge I gave it from a receptor site perspective? There’s so much scientific evidence to prove that it doesn’t change the brain structure at all. Where does that leave us?
My husband taught me many years ago that I use with almost all of my clients today. It has allowed me to reduce my daily negative thoughts from 90% to 1.5% on an ongoing basis. It doesn’t matter what happens in my life today, I am able to see and process the positive aspect of it. Can you understand how freeing that is?
How do you judge if a thought is positive or negative? Many people will answer this question with talking about how it makes them feel or the impact it has on them physically. The barometer I use to determine if a thought is positive or negative is, “Is it what I want”. If it’s not what I want, I am wasting my time reinforcing the wrong thoughts. However, if it is what I want then I need to continue to reinforce those kinds of thoughts more and more. I have been told that the number one rule of behavioral psychology is you get what you reinforce. Whether it’s behavioral psychology or the Law of Attraction (which emphasizes the more thoughts you have about something the more you are calling those things to you) there’s so much evidence in the power of our thoughts.
Let me show you how this works. What is your first thought when you wake up in the morning? For many people it’s along the lines of “I’m so tired. I don’t want to get up”. If you wake up at 7, 8, or 10 and that is your thought how tired are you going to be by noon? In my experience you will be exhausted by noon. In the beginning for me, I literally had to put signs up where I could see them saying “Is that what I want?”. Here’s the biggest part though: If a thought is not what you want, stop it immediately and replace it with the positive opposite.
I’m sure this sounds somewhat trite but I will tell you that this is the biggest step I took in order to change my reality and control my thinking. When I was first introduced to this concept it seemed so mundane. Until I was getting dressed and my jeans were too tight and my instant thought was “I’m so fat”. Or until I went to work and I saw someone who didn’t smile at me and I thought “Wow. He hates me”. I would not be including the full story if I didn’t talk about how I used to go to the mailbox dreading the bills that were sure to be in there. I stopped all of those thoughts!
If you need some proof of how your thoughts create your reality, I understand completely. This was a life-changing concept for me. It’s not as if I had believed that I was a victim of circumstances, but I didn’t recognize or understand how powerful I was. You have a tremendous amount of power. No matter what you’ve been told, no matter what you’ve experienced, no matter what you’ve endured.
Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate this into your life:
- Written Reminders: Leave yourself a post-it note or something in writing reminding you to reinforce what you want, not what you don’t want. This is a new concept, it will take awhile to apply fully.
- Electronic Reminders: Much like I do with the affirmations I’m using, set an alarm or a reminder on your cell phone that says “Is that what I want?”. I have even been known to change it as my screen saver on my desk top.
- Enlist Help: In the beginning this will seem like it’s so easy and simple. But when you enlist help it will change things. Eventually at some point someone will hear you say something negative (that you are unaware of even) and they will ask you if that’s what you want.
- Have Fun: I was taught that if it’s not fun it’s not going to be as effective. The more fun it is the less internal resistance you will develop for it. It’s okay for it to be fun and exciting.
- Make it a Priority: When I committed to changing my thoughts, my entire world changed. It was so freeing and exciting, although a littler overwhelming. That’s okay.
- Remember That You are Worth it: You are worth it. You have read this entire blog, I think you owe it to yourself to attempt it. What have you got to loose?
Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual psychotherapist and life coach. She offers face-to-face and online services to people everywhere. Learn more about her here: www.JennBovee.LCSW.com