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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 December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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