Have you ever listened to a friend say mean things to herself? She could be complaining about the way she looks, beating herself up for not being more confident, or calling herself any number of nasty names.
If you ever needed proof that our thoughts are just perceptions, and not truth or fact, this is it. You know your friend is an amazing person, but her thoughts are telling her otherwise. All those nasty things she’s saying to herself are the result of negative thinking. And we’ll bet there are plenty of untruths you’ve been telling yourself too.
You might hold certain beliefs around money, about how it’s limited and you’ll never have enough, you might feel a certain way about romance, falsely believing that you aren’t worthy of someone, and we’ll bet you have a few unfriendly thoughts about the way you look and behave too.
Trouble is, our thoughts can be pretty deceptive. They linger in the background of our minds 24/7 and it can be oh-so-easy to believe what they are telling us. Over time, we can allow our thoughts to build up a picture of who we think we are and sometimes that can be fairly destructive. (It’s the voice that says you can’t have, do or be the things you desire.)
Eckhart Tolle sums it up. He says, “Compulsive thinking is actually an addiction… It’s addictive because you identify with thinking, which means that you derive your sense of self from the content and activity of your mind.”
You have the power to change
If, like Eckhart explains, you’ve ever felt tortured by compulsive thinking, you’ll know it can impact you in all sorts of ways, from feeling constant worry to building a negative self-image that holds you back. So, let’s change that.
Here’s a revolutionary (but totally simple!) concept you can start believing from this day forward: you are not your thoughts. And your thoughts are not you. And anything in your psyche that tells you can’t have the life you truly desire should be questioned and scrutinized.
You have the power to change your thoughts, to flip them on their head, and turn them into ones that empower you and help you be the best version of you. But first things first…
Where do thoughts come from?
Good question, right? And the answer isn’t simple. You might think thoughts just randomly pop into your head, but thought formation is a little more complex than that.
Here’s a brief explainer: most of our thoughts come from the subconscious mind, that part of our brain that works on autopilot. It’s responsible for those little voices in your head that say ‘I’m not good enough’ ‘I could never do that’ and thoughts of that ilk.
Here’s the truth: We aren’t even aware of most of these thoughts – they happen at an unconscious level – but every now and again one will catch our attention. When this happens we start consciously thinking about the thought, and if it’s a negative thought we might start to dwell on it and obsess over it.
The more we obsess over it the more it grows. Pretty soon it can develop into a strong feeling, like stress, anxiety, anger, or fear. And over time it may even influence our words and actions. Repeated often enough these thoughts can become beliefs and beliefs have a massive impact on our lives. What we believe about the world becomes our experience, and it all starts with the way we think.
So now you know where thoughts come from, you might be wondering…
What influences the way we think?
There are any number of reasons why your thoughts might differ from somebody else’s. Sometimes it’s in the genes and has been passed down to you through generations. Sometimes it’s related to who you hang out with, and often our thoughts are influenced by our conditioning. So much of the way you think right now has to do with your past experiences and circumstances.
The good news is, whether you’re surrounded by positive or negative people or have experienced a lot of adversity in the past, you can choose to think differently. Those unfriendly thoughts that have been holding you back, can be changed. Here’s how…
Become An Observer
Looking for a way to wear yourself out? Try controlling your thoughts. Experts think we have up to 80,000 thoughts a day, and around 3,300 thoughts an hour, so it’s not only impossible to try to control your thoughts, it’s exhausting!
Instead, you can observe your thoughts. Become aware of what’s going on inside your head and the next time an unwanted thought appears you can view it from the standpoint of ‘Oh, isn’t that interesting’ and move on.
Beating yourself up every time you have a negative thought not only gives that thought energy it also allows it to grow. Instead, accept it, let it go and know this: we can guarantee even world-renowned thought leader Tony Robbins thinks unhelpful thoughts throughout the day. Negative thinking is a normal part of being human, the trick is not to identify with it.
Now for the fun part: choosing your thoughts intentionally. It’s up to you to decide how you want to think. And relentless goal-getter Amanda Frances has a handy hack for noticing negative (and ultimately untrue) thoughts and turning them into something more empowering.
She says, when a negative thought pops into your head, like ‘I’m not worthy’ or ‘I could never have that’ ask yourself ‘Is this ultimately true?’. Next, say ‘Okay, what could be the truth?’.
We’ll tell you the truth: you are worthy, you are capable, and you are deserving. When an unhelpful thought pops into your head, try repeating this over and over again.
You know how passionate we are about affirmations at The Head Plan. Affirm it, believe it, achieve it, that’s our motto! Over time repeating affirmations can rewire your thoughts. And it all starts with a very simple practice: noticing your negative thoughts and creating an empowering belief that opposes them.
Say you’ve been telling yourself that money is always tight, you could replace that with a belief that says “Money is abundant and it’s always flowing to me.” Or if you’re plagued with self-doubt and low confidence, you could try repeating “I am confident and capable.”
The goal is to repeat these affirmations day in day out until they become your automatic thoughts. Saying these things out loud might feel funny at first, but eventually, those new thoughts will seep into your subconscious and become your new life-affirming, empowering beliefs.
Remember that thing we said about how most of our thoughts are unconscious and many of them are whirring away in the background without our knowledge?
Well, it’s not just conscious thoughts that can be changed, you can rewire the unconscious ones too! Doing so requires tapping into your subconscious mind and there are lots of ways you can do that.
You could try daily meditation (check out our 30 Day Meditation Programme in the Meditation Folder now), or commit to thinking deliberately as soon as you wake up and right before you fall asleep when the subconscious mind is most active. The best bit? You get to choose what works best for you.
You are not your thoughts
Go on. Read that line again and let it really sink in.
Our thoughts never stop. They are in action 24 hours a day seven days a week, and left unchecked they can drive you mad. But, you don’t need to be controlled by them.
Deepak Chopra puts it this way: “Thoughts are just fleeting mental images. They have no consequences until you choose to make them important.”
So, it’s really this simple: stop believing the bad thoughts, and begin to choose new ones that feel good. A thought that feels really good to us? “I can have everything my heart desires.” Now, that we can believe.