We are exposed to a lot of negativity in the news and media, and you can try to avoid that. But you really shouldn’t have to be exposed to negativity in your own head. Your inner dialogue is one of the biggest influences on your confidence, self-esteem, and the results you create for yourself. If your negative inner voice is too loud these days, I have ways to help you turn that around.
Some people are naturally more positive and have an empowering inner voice. If that’s you, then that’s amazing! It didn’t happen by accident. Either you grew up with people that taught you to speak to yourself that way, or you've developed a positive-thinking habit and your life likely reflects that positivity.
For the rest of us that lean towards negative thought chatter, know that you aren’t alone. Researchers from the National Institute of Health estimate that we think about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day, and about 80% of them are negative. (Yikes!) These thoughts happen when your brain isn’t otherwise engaged and can say a lot of things that aren’t true.
Many people think that their feelings are like the weather and that they don’t have control over them. This couldn’t be further than the truth. You are not your thoughts and you can learn to control them. This is a great thing because your thoughts are what create your feelings, and those feelings are what cause you to take action (or not), which then creates your results. It all starts with your thoughts. Learn more about the Thought Model.
That little voice in your head has a huge impact on how you feel and both your mental and physical health.
If you’re constantly telling yourself how tired you are, you're naturally going to feel even more tired. Or if you're feeling stressed out and all you do is remind yourself of everything that's stressing you out, you are going to feel even more stressed. Sound familiar? But when you turn those thoughts around so that you begin to focus on the positive side of things, you'll start to feel better immediately, sometimes even in a matter of seconds.
Here's why it's so important. Constantly mulling over your problems or negative feelings can turn into what's called ruminating thinking. Chewing on your thoughts and negative feelings is pretty much the same as a cow chewing on its cud, which is actually partially digested grass from its first stomach. So just like cows, if you ruminate on your thoughts long enough, it can take a sour turn.
After a while, the negative thought loop can turn into a habit that replays itself automatically. So if you're tired and constantly remind yourself of it, it gets harder and harder to pull yourself out of it. This happens more than you might think and you probably don't even realize you're doing it.
According to the American Psychological Association, we get into this thought loop because we believe thinking about a problem is the same as doing something to solve it. But of course, as you know, that's not always the case. In fact, according to the APA, thinking about something over and over again can actually get in the way of making things better. Ruminating thinking negatively affects your thoughts, your ability to solve problems, and is even linked to depression.
We can all benefit from reducing our negative thought patterns. Here are three ways you can start today to turn your negative inner voice into something empowering that helps you reach your goals, be happier, and feel more confident.
1. Recognize Your Thoughts. Before you can change something, you need to be aware of what is happening. So start stopping to pay attention to your thoughts and note how often negative ones show up. You’ll probably notice certain thoughts are on repeat. When you notice it happening, don’t criticize yourself. Instead, call the thoughts out. Imagine someone was saying those thoughts to your five-year-old self. What would you say to that person? You’d certainly want to make them stop.
2. Turn Them Around. When you find yourself falling into a negative thought pattern, quickly turn it around. For example, say you come home from work and you're feeling stressed, tired, and grumpy. You had planned to do a workout, but your internal chatter is telling you to skip it and flop on the couch instead. Or maybe it’s saying you need to start dinner or tidy up instead.
If you are feeling stressed and grumpy, what will make you feel better? The couch, chores, or that workout you had planned on? Redirect your thoughts and tell yourself that your workout will lift you out of that mood and give you a burst of energy. I bet that once you’re finished, you’ll skip the couch and have positive energy to get some other things done.
3. Be Proactive. You can train your brain to be more positive by stopping the negative chatter before it happens. Come up with positive thoughts that have meaning for you (aka affirmations), and that resonate with how you want to feel rather than how you don’t want to feel. Here are some ideas:
Write your affirmations down somewhere where you can see them and repeat them to yourself several times a day. You could write it on a post-it note and put it on your steering wheel to see before you head home after work. Hide one inside the door of a cupboard you use often. Write it on your bathroom mirror with a washable marker. You can even set a reminder on your phone or computer calendar to go off at certain times of the day.
Training your negative inner voice to be more positive takes time, but it isn’t difficult. Start by noticing what you say to yourself, and then replace those thoughts with what you want to hear instead. You can do it!
If you want help turning your thoughts around and achieving your goals, make an appointment with me for a free consultation to learn about working together. I have a proven process that works, either one-on-one or in a group coaching format.
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