Our thoughts can be the slowest form of poison or the strongest form of medicine.
My goals this year forced me to spend a large amount of alone time.
Whether it was working independently, running long distances, or writing, I was by definition “doing my own thing.” This consequently freed up new mental space for my subconscious to stretch its legs and explore. My mind was no longer preoccupied by outside interactions and I depended on it for my creative and business work.
Then, only two months in, I started noticing damaging and critical self-talk inserted between my usually more nurturing conversations. This pattern worsened until my subconscious literally became a mind of its own. I realized I had to re-learn how to use my subconscious as a source of empowerment and positivity. The process was not immediate and it took practice.
For those of you needing a similar reboot, here are four ways to end destructive thinking:
1. Identify negative thought patterns.
Have you noticed that your mind latches onto the same fears and self-sabotaging thoughts relationship after relationship, job after job, situation after situation? Because we’re conditioned to thinking a certain way from a very early age, it’s common that the same thoughts will drive your life no matter what circumstances have changed or experience you’ve gained.
To break this pattern, dig out the deeper reason behind it. For example, I used to always imagine how I would react if someone cheated on me, relationship after relationship. I realized that I did this because of a fear that I wouldn’t be strong enough to face it if it ever happened. Unfortunately, by running it through in my head, I was rehearsing for something that wasn’t real and was taking up valuable mental space. No matter how well our lives are going, we all have patterns planted in our subconscious birthed from fear, criticism, or insecurity.
2. Listen to your subconscious as if it were your friend.
Now that you’ve honestly identified your repeating negative thought patterns and the source, address the deeper issue. Treat your subconscious like a good friend and converse with it as if you were giving advice to a person you love. Listen and write down the underlying fears and reasons behind your thought patterns in one column. Beside each self-destructive train of thought, re-write it into a self-affirming and positive mantra.
I love the mantra “The Universe has my back and I get back the positive work and energy that I put out”, instead of “the world is against me”. Finally, attach an action item or goal that strengthens this new story. Keep the column with the positive affirmations and plans and practice replacing your old thoughts with these truths.
3. Find the difference between your expectations and reality and bridge that gap.
Suffering and disappointment often stem from a gap between what is expected and what is real. Our imagination and desires can plant an exaggerated picture of how a certain job or a relationship will progress and evolve over time. Sometimes this vision motivates you to achieve higher success, but sometimes, it creates expectations that are unrealistic.
Premature expectations to receive a promotion, tour as a new artist, or get married by a certain age can set you up for disappointment and lead to self-criticism. Bridge the gap by separating the fantasies in your head from real circumstances, focusing on progress and accepting new challenges as opportunities to grow.
4. Prioritize healthy habits.
No matter your work or you personality, we can prioritize non-negotiable habits each and every day that are scientifically proven to change your mind and help it clear away excess noise.
For example, practicing yoga forces you to focus on breath work and movement of your body that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” functions of your brain. In addition, eating non-processed food, practicing meditation, sticking to a challenging and fun workout routine, having safe sex and doing creative things are all known activities that clear your mind of fear-based thoughts and become centered.
Choose a few activities that you enjoy the most and make it a non-negotiable part of your everyday life.
How do you deal with your destructive thoughts?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: used with permisson by Stillwrht Photography