Have you ever paid close attention to your thoughts, like a third-party observer? Have you ever noticed the stories you tell yourself throughout the day? And most importantly, have you ever noticed how many of these thoughts and stories are actually negative?
Every thought we think, every word we say to ourselves is a blueprint from which our mind takes action. The mind truly doesn’t care whether what you’re telling it is true or false, bad or good. The mind simply absorbs whatever you feed into it. If you tell yourself you’re not a good leader, your mind believes that to be true. If you tell yourself you can’t get the promotion, your mind follows suit. Our bodies don’t know the difference between our real lived experiences and our fake thoughts and the emotions we’ve created as a result of our thoughts.
When you think about the things you think you can’t do, or goals you think you’ll never achieve, who is the person telling you that you can’t? Most of the time, it’s your own mind, convincing you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough. It’s your mind fabricating these stories, to the point that you believe it like it’s fact.
“I’m not creative”
“I have no idea what I’m doing”
“I can’t pull that off”
“I’m not smart enough to work here”
“I don’t have enough money”
Do these kinds of phrases ring a bell? Take a moment to think about some things you believe to be true about yourself. Now think about who has been telling you these things. I can almost guarantee it wasn’t your best friend telling you you’re not creative, or your significant other telling you you’re not smart.
The mind is our most powerful tool, and it can be used to our benefit or, conversely, to our detriment. If we wake up every morning, dwelling on the same problem or thinking in the same way, we remain trapped in these negative thought patterns and single stories. This then informs our lifestyle and behavior, and our brain continues to reinforce these negative thought patterns. What we fear controls us, but we can flip the switch to transform these behaviors.
We can train ourselves to wake up every morning and immediately think of the good. We can practice thinking positive things about ourselves, we can practice telling ourselves we are enough, we are strong, we are confident, we are smart. We can truly change our thoughts if we practice paying attention.
How? Our brains are more flexible than we once thought. Over the past 20 years, discoveries in neuroscience have revealed that we can easily change our brain’s makeup; this is called neuroplasticity. We are capable of re-structuring neutral pathways in our brains to produce new, positive behaviors. You know how the more you practice something, the better you get at it? The more you work and flex your bicep muscle, the stronger it gets? Well, it works the same way for your mindset. The more you practice being positive, the better you will become at producing positive thoughts. It’s that simple, and it WILL change your life.
So, our first step here is to strengthen this positivity “muscle.” For example, repeatedly engaging in a gratitude practice can strengthen neural pathways that produce happier thoughts, and you will have an easier time switching from negative to positive self-talk. We can convince our bodies to be grateful, to be positive, and to catch negative thoughts from prevailing.
Your thoughts dictate your feelings, your feelings dictate your actions, and your actions dictate your event. It all begins with the thought, and changing that initial thought will actively reframe the events of your own life.
We must tell our minds what we want, who we are, what we are capable of, instead of letting our minds control us.
If you’re looking for ways to start, I recommend beginning each day by writing down three things you are grateful for. This helps set the tone for the day and forces you to think about the good in your life before you immediately jump to your to-do lists and everyday stressors. The more you do it, the easier it will come. Be patient and hold yourself accountable!
If you want to up your game even more, incorporate positive affirmations into your day as much as possible. In addition to expressing gratitude, tell your mind what you want with affirmations.
Like I said, your thoughts become your reality, so practice making your thoughts productive. Get creative, and tell yourself exactly what you need to hear.
Positive Affirmation examples:
- I am headed in the right direction
- I am ready to face the challenges of the day
- I am exactly where I need to be
- I am strong
- I am capable
- I am smart
- I am at peace with myself
- I am content with what is
- I give myself permission to do what is right for me
- I am worthy of feeling good
- I am worthy of success
- Everything I need is already within me