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How to Turn Off Negative Thoughts in Your Mind

How to Turn Off Negative Thoughts in Your Mind

Barring psychological illness, we are all largely responsible for our own emotional health and well-being[1]. What does that mean? That what we say to ourselves over and over for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years, has a dramatic effect on how we see ourselves. This also contributes to many of the mental health disorders [2] we see rampant today: what we choose to have continually playing in our brains stays there, and there’s a  real problem when we start buying into the negative thoughts we have about ourselves.

I discovered how powerful the effect of conditioning is firsthand when I was listening to some oldies the other day on the radio—I was amazed at how quickly I could belt out the words to songs I hadn’t heard in decades. How could I remember all those lyrics from so long ago? Because I was conditioned by them. I listened and sang those words day in and day out for what seemed like forever, until they were burned into my brain cells, and some of those old songs even provoked strong feelings in me as I took a quick trip down memory lane.

The mind is a powerful thing, and in a nanosecond, it can elevate or crush our mood because of the beliefs lurking behind our feelings.

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If you think I’m kidding, try it yourself: think of an old song, or even the lyrics to one of your favorite television shows. Those of us who are old enough can belt out the opening line to The Beverly Hillbillies in our sleep.

So, what does all this have to do with our emotional health? Everything.

Many of us have problems with negative thoughts playing on the channel of our minds, but if you’re engaging in it consistently, and you believe it, it could be eroding your sense of self-esteem[3]. Here are a few beliefs that indicate you may need to switch the station:

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  • I’m a loser
  • I’m not good enough
  • I don’t deserve….
  • No one likes me
  • I suck at relationships
  • I’m a failure

Negative thoughts conjures up bad feelings and hooks you into believing that what those old tapes in your head are playing is actually true. In short, it brings your focus to your failures, and that gets you nowhere.

What can you do?

Here are some suggestions:

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Focus on what you can do NOW, not the past!

Self-talk is so subtle that we often don’t notice its effect on our mood and belief systems—as previously noted, one song can conjure up an entire series of thoughts and memories. Key things to notice are “if only or “what if” statements: the former keep you stuck in the past with regret, while the latter keep you fearful of the future. There is nothing you can do about the past, and the future isn’t here yet, so stay in the present moment.

Visualize thing in the positive side

Three scoops of ice cream: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. Fresh crushed pineapple and strawberries, warm luscious hot fudge. Ripe sweet banana. Fresh whipped cream and a juicy red cherry. Get the drift? By now, you’re not only thinking of the banana split, you can taste it. If we want to change the negative tapes playing in our heads, we have to visualize ourselves positively—that means seeing yourself non-judgmentally. Picture accepting yourself. How would that look? Draw a picture in your mind and expand on it.

Build positive thoughts, positive actions will then follow

Whatever you believe, you’ll experience more of, and you’ll also find yourself behaving in ways that are congruent with your beliefs[4]. So, start believing the best about yourself: act as if you believe that you’re a valuable and worthy person.

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Recognize and set boundaries to the triggers of negative thoughts 

Triggers are anything that can start the old tapes playing. If a certain person is a trigger for you, set boundaries with them.

Develop positive statements to counter negative thoughts

Instead of always putting yourself down in your head, think of some things you actually like about yourself. What are your strengths, what are you good at? Developing counterstatements requires you have some degree of belief in their veracity. Keep your counterstatements in the here-and-now, instead of saying “I’m not good enough” try saying, “I am capable. I’m good at ______. I accept myself the way I am.”

Thinking poorly about ourselves gets us nowhere and is extremely self-limiting. Decide today to turn off the negative self-talk channel in your mind and develop your true potential.

Back at you: If you’ve struggled with negative thoughts, how did you overcome it and go on to reach your full potential?

Featured photo credit:  Portrait of the young woman close up via Shutterstock

Reference

[1]Gatewa-to-innner-peace: Why Your Self Talk Will Affect Your Life
[2]Wake Up World: Overcoming Negative Thinking – The #1 Cause of Chronic Depression
[3]Elite Daily: The Psychology Of Self-Esteem: Negative Thoughts Can Ruin Your Life
[4]Huffpost: Be Careful of Your Thoughts: They Control Your Destiny

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Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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