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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 June 13, 2019

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

Think you have a boring life?

The definition of boring is dull or not interesting. Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list of 20 things can definitely make any day more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaning) one!

1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

What would he or she want to do right now? Color? Paint? Run around outside? Play dress up? Eat with your hands? Play that instrument hiding in the back of your closet that you haven’t touched in years?

Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play.

2. Go Play with Kids

Speaking of little kids, if you have your own or access to any (in a non-creepy way, like they’re your niece or your best friend’s kid, you get the idea) go play with them!

They didn’t create an entire show called Kids Say The Darndest Things because kids aren’t hilarious. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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3. Order a Hot Dog

While you’re eating it, Google: “What’s in a hot dog?” You decide whether or not you want to finish it.

4. For the Ladies: Wear Your Sexiest Lingerie Under Your Work Clothes

Your “little secret” will leave you feeling anything but boring all day!

5. Play Cell Phone Roulette

You’ll need at least one buddy for this. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one and call the person.

You could spark an incredible catch up session or be incredibly awkward. Neither are boring.

6. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

Give them to random people who probably don’t get thanked too often for doing what they do ever day.

Ideas: police officers, librarians, servers, baristas, cab drivers, sanitation workers, teachers, people behind any check out counter, receptionists, your friends, the guy at the falafel stand, etc.

7. Sign up for a Class in Something You’ve “Always Wanted to Do”, or Something That Makes You Really Uncomfortable

Ideas: pole dancing, salsa lessons, improv, pottery, cooking, knitting (yup, there are classes for this, too!), karate, boxing, something techy like the workshops they run in Apple stores, get Rosetta Stone and learn that language you’ve always wanted to speak, etc.

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What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people!

8. Interview Your Grandparents About Their Lives

You can bet they’ve had some crazy experiences you probably never knew about.

9. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage and just talk funny. And if you’re not, memorize a few of your favorite jokes and tell those!

10. Do Something for Someone Else That You Wish Someone Would Do for You

We all have a few ideas on this list. I promise you will feel amazing after and anything but bored.

11. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

It doesn’t have to be super complicated. If you need ideas, there’re plenty on Pinterest. Or you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

12. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

This will give you something to look forward to.

Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is same fun and relaxing!

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13. People Watch

Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops and train stations are great for this!) and just observe.

People are infinitely interesting.

14. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

Bonus points if it’s a random fruit or veggie.

15. Dance

You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public and get other people involved.

16. Go to YOUTUBE and Search “Funny Pets” or “Funny Babies”

This is also a great quickie ab workout as you will be laughing hysterically.

17. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

Check out the NY Times Best Sellers lists and grab a new book you can get lost in.

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18. Step Away from the Computer and Go Get Some Time with People You Care About in Real Life

Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. You can even share this post with your friends and vote on which one you’d like to do together!

19. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to Before

OK, depending on your interests, this one might actually be boring. If you love learning, art or different cultures though, this one is for you!

20. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then start taking your first step to make what you want happen.

Now go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

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Featured photo credit: Kev Costello via unsplash.com

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