6 Ways To Rewrite Your Negative Thoughts—Starting Today
That static sound running through your head all day, those are your thoughts. Google defines thoughts an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind.
The tricky part though, your thoughts aren’t real—they’re just ideas you have about something and not the complete picture.
Thoughts come and go all day long, and if you’ve never paused to notice them, you may not see the evidence of how they affect your life experience. Thoughts are only a problem when they keep you stuck and keep you from getting a result you’re after.
Thoughts create behaviors, which create patterns.
When an internal or external event triggers thoughts, those thoughts can then trigger an emotional response, which can then trigger a behavior. When you repeat this cycle enough, what you have is a pattern of behavior. The more a pattern of a particular action is practiced, the more it’ll become unconsciously ingrained.
This would be all good if we only had positive thoughts that led to positive emotions that led to a positive reaction. But really, how often is that the case?
Most of us let our thoughts just flap in the wind and allow them to take us on a road trip with them at the wheel. We bow to them, entertain them, indulge them, and even let them choose the radio stations along the way.
Sometimes thoughts can take over and make us feel out of control. Think about this: has the thought of your thoughts left you feeling sorry for yourself? And maybe deep inside, feeling sorry for yourself felt comforting in a way? Or perhaps if someone wronged you, you ended up wallowing in thoughts of victimization, or you let in feelings of superiority—that stance that falsely inflates our egos and makes us feel like we’re better than someone else.
The good news is we don’t need to let our thoughts run the show. You can learn to train your brain and control your thoughts which also means reining them in when they get out of hand. The following are some techniques you can use (starting right now) to help with that. All of these techniques use Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to achieve a result that you’re after.
We’re going to use language and pictures to get what we want, here’s how:
1. First, notice your thoughts.
Thinking is a constant noise like a ceiling fan that’s always there in our heads. The more you practice listening to your thoughts, the better you’ll become at noticing them, and noticing which thoughts feel good, and which ones don’t serve you.
2. Use language to change the thought.
As you notice an unwanted thought, ask yourself, “This isn’t the thought I want to be thinking—what do I want to think instead?” or, “What thought could I think that would make me feel better right now?”. Then, shift your focus to the new and improved thought.
3. Play the alphabet game.
When a negative thought comes up, start saying the letters of the alphabet followed by a word that will positively shift your focus. For example, A is for abundance, amazing or accomplished, etc.; B is for blissful, beautiful, or bright, etc.; C is for calm, confident, charismatic, etc., and so on. This game is powerful because it shifts your focus in a positive direction. The alphabet game takes a little getting used to because you’ll have to train your brain to play the game. In the beginning, you might have to travel down the alphabet a ways to find the relief you’re looking for—don’t be discouraged if you have to go all the way to Z!
With enough practice, you’ll train your brain to shift focus by just starting with A, B or C. And sometimes just thinking of the game will bring you instant relief. This is definitely a game with some feel-good side effects.
4. Remember what thoughts are.
A thought is just a thought. The cool part about this is that we can choose to think a different one if the current thought isn’t what we want. You get to choose. If you find that the emotions associated with the thought are just too strong and you can’t shake them, you may need a bridge to take you to a neutral or positive thought. That bridge could be using language or the alphabet game as described above.
5. Interrupt the thought.
Have fun with this one. As soon as a negative thought pops up and enters your awareness, say, aloud if possible, something like, “I call bullshit,” “Wrong,” “Cancel,” “Delete,” or, “Dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow” (from Mulan) or my favorite, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Interrupt your crappy thought with something funny and short. Maybe you’ll try a line from a movie, a song lyric, or anything that makes you chuckle.
6. Change the picture.
If I were to ask you, “When you think of a successful leader do you have a picture in your mind?” I’m willing to bet that you do. It may be crystal clear, blurry, black and white or in color. Either way, the picture is there in your mind. When you notice a thought that creeps up, visually (using your imagination) move the picture to the left or the right until the emotions you’re associating with the picture (thought) diminish or disappear. Once you move the picture, imagine shrinking it to something as tiny as a postage stamp or grain of sand, then imagine blowing it away until it’s completely out of sight. This process only takes a few seconds and it’s pretty potent.
Getting started with these techniques
At you first begin to play with these techniques, keep your focus on changing no more than three negative thoughts at one time. You may find this challenging early on since you have to become consciously aware of your unwanted thoughts. You’re acting like a motion detector, just waiting to notice a new thought moving into your mind. With practice, you’ll be able to point out the negative thought because it will be connected to a set of negative emotions.
An important part of eliminating these unwanted thoughts is replacing them with different, feel-better thoughts. At first, it may be neutral thoughts like “birds, bunnies, and butterflies,” but eventually, it will become easier and easier to replace negative thoughts with thoughts that make you feel good and will help you go after a result you want. Once you do this enough, you’ll train your unconscious mind to reject the negative thoughts you’ve focused on eliminating and it will feel as easy as snapping your fingers.
Keep in mind as you practice rewriting your thoughts, the techniques will be most effective on the thoughts that seem to constantly be running through your head—the habitual ones that aren’t serving you. Sometimes, negative feelings and thoughts are completely appropriate. There’s no need to change those. For example, we’re not going to use something or someone we absolutely disdain for good reason—like maybe arsonists or serial killers. Let’s just leave those thoughts alone.
I'm Brenda Terry. I'm a personal development trainer and master coach who works with go-getters like you who want to achieve big results in your business and personal life.
If you're excited and ready to play bigger in business and kill it in life, I help you identify and change beliefs, patterns, and behaviors that aren't supporting your goals so you can make more money, find more joy, better manage relationships, and communicate more effectively.
I'm here to help you make the powerful, effective shifts you're craving- faster than you ever thought possible.