Positive thinking has gained a great deal of popularity. We all know that negative thoughts are fear-based and have their way of making it into reality, if we allow them persist. Spending a lifetime only seeing things in the negative will lead to numerous limitations.
So how do we deal with these negative thoughts? Two very common methods are to push them away (or label them as “not useful”) or to replace them with positive affirmations.
Let’s use “Sue” for example. Sue was tired of working in her job, and she wanted to try and find something more interesting, possibly with more pay and opportunities for travel. As she polished up her resume’ and began applying, she was bombarded with negative thoughts.
“I’m not qualified for this,” those “voices” told Sue. “I’ve never done well in interviews.” “I’m not management material.”
Now, Sue knew that these were negative thoughts, so she sought to deal with them. First, she tried pushing them away, whenever they occurred. She told herself that these were negative thoughts, they were not useful, and they would not help her to be successful.
What do you think happened? Of course, not Sue’s attention was on the very thoughts she was trying to push away, so they persisted in full force, often spiraling into other unpleasant thoughts, fears, and worst-case scenarios.
Seeing that this approach didn’t work, Sue read about affirmations and began replacing her negative thoughts with positive ones. When she thought, “I’m not qualified for this,” she reminded herself, “I am qualified for this.” When she thought, “I’ve never done well in interviews,” she reminded herself, “I did well in the interview for this job.”
Yet still, the thoughts kept coming. Sue began to wonder what she did wrong, which of course led to more negative thoughts.
Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones does not work, because negative thoughts come from the subconscious mind. They are based on deep-seated beliefs based on meaning that our minds have given to past experience. Digging beyond the surface and redefining these beliefs and assumptions is the only way to stop the negative thoughts.
How do you do this? These are some steps you can follow, to redefine and stop negative thoughts:
1. Stop judging the thoughts.
Begin by understanding that “positive” and “negative” are excellent terms to use in reference to electricity and magnets. But they have no meaning in regard to thoughts. Judging thoughts is a form of self-attack, and it only leads to further into misunderstanding of yourself. Instead, notice how thoughts make you feel. If a thought does not feel good, that means that it is most likely fear-based. And if this is the case, look more deeply at the thought, rather than pushing it away.
2. Question thoughts that don’t feel right.
When I thought appears to be fear-based, be very curious with your own mind. Ask yourself why you think this. And then ask yourself why you think whatever your answer is. Ask yourself questions until you can find the assumption that your mind is making, that is leading to these thoughts. For example, Sue asked herself why she thought she wasn’t qualified. She realized that she had always felt insecure, because she was from a lower-income family and couldn’t afford to go to a prestigious university. She saw that she was assuming that her background made her inherently less qualified than someone from a wealthier family.
3. When you find the assumption, question its validity.
After you ask yourself the questions and find the underlying assumption, ask yourself if it is really true. Does it really make sense? Sue could see that there was really no reason that her background would make her less qualified at something. That just because people say that going to a more prestigious university is an advantage, doesn’t mean that someone who went to one is necessarily more qualified.
4. Redefine the assumption.
If the assumption doesn’t make sense, redefine it in a way that does. Sue was able to see that her experience and problem-solving abilities made her much more qualified than most people. And she could see where her modest background was an asset, as it helped her to be more careful with money and better organized.
5. When you have doubts, remind yourself of the redefinition.
After going through the questioning process and redefining, your mind will be more likely to accept the redefinition, if you very gently remind yourself of it. It takes time for new patterns of thinking to form, so this step will need a great deal of repetition.
By learning to redefine, you can better manage those negative thoughts, so that you can create the reality—and the life—that you desire.
If you would like help redefining negative thoughts and limiting beliefs, consider an individual e-mail, chat, or Skype session.
There are still spaces open in the Simple Living Basics E-Course. Make an investment in your peace of mind this summer! Discounts are available.