Our thoughts sometimes have a life of their own. They can take us to nice places in our imagination, making us feel calm, relaxed and hopeful. But what should we do when it seems like our thoughts are in a downward spiral so that, within minutes, we find ourselves feeling tired and miserable?
The way we think is also the way we talk to ourselves. Now, when you listen to your inner monologue – how does it make you feel? If you notice that you feel tired, drained or anxious most of time, there is all likelihood that your thoughts need rewriting!
This is one of the first things I say to my clients when they feel in the grip of anxiety. Becoming more observant of our thoughts helps us to identify undesirable beliefs. As our brain cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality, if we allow negative thoughts to be in charge, we are activating the production of stress hormones. Our hypothalamus, the regulator of the chemical responses in our body, will start producing cortisol and adrenaline even if the threatening situations live only in our imagination!
So how do we stop this?
1. Write down all the negative thoughts
The first step is to write down all of the recurring negative thoughts to help you to identify them. Once they are out of your head they may lose some of their emotional charge as this action affords you a better perspective. We do tend to become overwhelmed when worrying about things in the privacy of our mind.
2. Rewrite negative thoughts into their extreme positive opposite
So if your thoughts sound like: ‘I don’t want to be anxious’, ‘I hate my job’ or ‘I look so bloated all the time’, how could we reframe them? How would you like to feel instead?
If we try out something like: ‘I’d like to be less anxious’, ‘I’d like to look less bloated’, what do we actually bring into the future? Exactly! Anxiety and being bloated – just to a smaller extent. But that’s not want we want, right? Let’s try the extreme positive opposite, for example: ‘I am positive about the future’ or ‘I like my body more and more with each day’. Transforming these negative thoughts into positive aspirations they become something to act upon rather than a fixed state.
3. Use the right tense
If we rewrite our thoughts using the future tense, that future may never come. So the best way would be to organise your inner monologue in the present or present progressive, depending on what resonates best with you: ‘I am feeling more and more positive with each day’ or ‘Each day I am getting nearer to my desired weight’. This way you are focusing on the positive. Science backs this up with studies showing that our body will respond this new way of thinking and also, our inner resourceful mind will start directing our activities toward the implementation of these beliefs.
Now, you may wonder what belief has to do with your activity? Actually, these are directly linked.
Our beliefs are our driving force so if we constantly think in a negative way we will not engage our resourceful mind to make a difference. Still, if we focus on positive expectations then our activities will naturally direct us towards their realisation.
So, how about rewriting your thoughts today by following these simple guidelines and letting me know after a week what difference have you noticed in your overall well-being?