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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

More by this author

Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

If I was a super hero I’d want my super power to be the ability to motivate everyone around me. Think of how many problems you could solve just by being able to motivate people towards their goals. You wouldn’t be frustrated by lazy co-workers. You wouldn’t be mad at your partner for wasting the weekend in front of the TV. Also, the more people around you are motivated toward their dreams, the more you can capitalize off their successes.

Being able to motivate people is key to your success at work, at home, and in the future because no one can achieve anything alone. We all need the help of others.

So, how to motivate people? Here are 7 ways to motivate others even you can do.

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1. Listen

Most people start out trying to motivate someone by giving them a lengthy speech, but this rarely works because motivation has to start inside others. The best way to motivate others is to start by listening to what they want to do. Find out what the person’s goals and dreams are. If it’s something you want to encourage, then continue through these steps.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are the best way to figure out what someone’s dreams are. If you can’t think of anything to ask, start with, “What have you always wanted to do?”

“Why do you want to do that?”

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“What makes you so excited about it?”

“How long has that been your dream?”

You need this information the help you with the following steps.

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3. Encourage

This is the most important step, because starting a dream is scary. People are so scared they will fail or look stupid, many never try to reach their goals, so this is where you come in. You must encourage them. Say things like, “I think you will be great at that.” Better yet, say, “I think your skills in X will help you succeed.” For example if you have a friend who wants to own a pet store, say, “You are so great with animals, I think you will be excellent at running a pet store.”

4. Ask About What the First Step Will Be

After you’ve encouraged them, find how they will start. If they don’t know, you can make suggestions, but it’s better to let the person figure out the first step themselves so they can be committed to the process.

5. Dream

This is the most fun step, because you can dream about success. Say things like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if your business took off, and you didn’t have to work at that job you hate?” By allowing others to dream, you solidify the motivation in place and connect their dreams to a future reality.

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6. Ask How You Can Help

Most of the time, others won’t need anything from you, but it’s always good to offer. Just letting the person know you’re there will help motivate them to start. And, who knows, maybe your skills can help.

7. Follow Up

Periodically, over the course of the next year, ask them how their goal is going. This way you can find out what progress has been made. You may need to do the seven steps again, or they may need motivation in another area of their life.

Final Thoughts

By following these seven steps, you’ll be able to encourage the people around you to achieve their dreams and goals. In return, you’ll be more passionate about getting to your goals, you’ll be surrounded by successful people, and others will want to help you reach your dreams …

Oh, and you’ll become a motivational super hero. Time to get a cape!

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Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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