Do you know how powerful a negative thought really is?
It only takes one to snowball and become something so much worse than that initial thought.
It only takes one to multiply, until they’re everywhere, looping around in our heads.
The worst ones make us feel empty, sad and lonely.
I’ve been there. No two struggles with depression are the same, but those feelings are so familiar to us all.
They can make you feel trapped – like there’s no way out and you’ll never feel happy again.
But there is a way out, and I want to share the three steps I took to find it.
It all started with a conscious decision to switch my focus
Back in 2012, my life looked completely different. I was on the verge of giving up my dream of a writing career. I hadn’t read a book or written a word in months. I lost a little more motivation with every rejection I faced until there was none left – no fight, no drive.
I was constantly pushing people away with my emotional outbursts – I didn’t know how to ask for help or communicate my feelings.
I didn’t know how to explain that I felt my life was going nowhere and I couldn’t even do the only thing I was passionate about doing anymore.
I didn’t know how to explain that I wanted love but didn’t think I truly deserved it.
So I lashed out. I was surrounded by negativity. I was constantly thinking about what I didn’t have and what I couldn’t do. And then I decided enough was enough, and I wanted to change my reality.
I instinctively knew this change had to come from within, so I started training my mind to think better thoughts.
Once I learned to be careful and mindful of my thoughts, I started to attract better circumstances and people into my life. Now I’m working in my dream career as a writer, and all my relationships have improved – especially the one with myself.
I still have my slip-ups every now and then, and there are still many things I need to work on, but my whole way of thinking has transformed in the past few years and so has my life.
Before I share the 3 simple practices I recommend if you’re ready to switch your focus and start living an amazing life, I want to say one last little thing – the practices may be simple, but this doesn’t make them easy. It takes time to train your mind.
And you have to be kind to yourself through the process.
Just be proud that you’re even doing it. There are millions of people in the world who would never do this. All the Negative Nancys that are stuck in their ways, refusing to acknowledge that there’s more to life, so much more. They don’t see that things don’t always have to be negative. But you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this!
Training your mind is like training your body. There will be shaky moments, like when you try to lift a heavy weight for the first time. There will be moments where you’re tired and you just want to give up, like when you’re trying to run that last mile on a treadmill.
But these moments will pass, and you’ll adapt. Before you know it, everything will start to come naturally. These practices will become things that you do without even thinking.
So here we are, three simple steps to help you train your mind to eliminate negative thought patterns.
Change your language from negative to positive
Our subconscious mind hears the words that we speak, and registers the ones we say often enough as beliefs.
That’s why we need to change the language that we use to start creating a better life.
This one is hard, because we’re so used to speaking the way we speak, and often we don’t realise how much damage one little word can do.
Sometimes we don’t even realise we’re being negative.
There are so many extra benefits that come from changing your language. Teaching yourself to use positive language helps you to become more self-aware, as you learn to really think before you speak.
It helps you to become more confident, as you feed your subconscious mind with positive messages about yourself and your life. So how do you change your language?
Start by making a habit of talking about what you love instead of what you hate. Try to limit complaining – when you’re complaining you’re not speaking about things you like. You’re speaking about things you don’t like and attracting more, just like I was.
The phrase I’m very careful not to use when speaking about my life is “I don’t want”. I try to avoid saying this as much as possible.
When you say the words “I don’t want”, what follows is a list of things you don’t want in your life. Negatives – which means you’re focusing on the negative without even realising. When you think about things that you don’t want, and you don’t like – do you feel good?
Nope! You feel awful. Now why would you want to make yourself feel awful by thinking and speaking about everything you don’t want in your life?
Why not think about what you do want and make yourself feel good instead?
When you speak about what you do want instead of what you don’t want, you’re focusing on positives. You’re shifting the whole tone of the conversation. You’re listing what you want, and focusing on those things, which makes you more likely to get them.
So – “I don’t want to get ill,” becomes “I want to stay healthy”.
“I don’t want to be broke,” becomes “I want to be rich”.
When I speak to my friends and they’re sad or asking me for advice, instead of telling them, “I don’t want you to be sad,” I tell them, “I want you to be happy”.
Other phrases to eliminate from your language:
“I can’t afford that,” becomes “I choose not to spend my money on that”
“I’m sick/tired of,” becomes “I want”
“I can’t” becomes “I can”
Here’s my personal favourite.
Someone asks how we are and we say “I’m not too bad.”
I’m not TOO BAD?! Why do we even say this? Why are we constantly telling other people, and the Universe (or God, higher power, whatever you believe) that we’re doing bad, but not TOO bad? Even when we’re doing good!
Who came up with this phrase that is used by so many people around the world?!
Do you see how easy it is to use negative language, in such a casual way without realising?
When someone asks how you are (and you’re actually good) say you’re good! Say you’re great, say anything but “not too bad”.
The good thing about these examples above is that there’s no fakeness – you’re still being true to yourself and your feelings. You’re still expressing the same thought – just in a positive way instead of a negative way.
How to put this into practice:
Be mindful of the words you use in conversations and try to choose positive language over negative language where you can. Every time you go to say the words, “I don’t want,” think about what you do want and say that instead. It sounds harder than it is, and it will become natural after some time.
Don’t worry if you slip up – when I do, I just follow up with a positive statement – what I should have said. So, for example, if I accidentally say, “I don’t want to be upset,” you can be damn sure the sentence that immediately follows will be, “I just want to be happy,”!
You know I always talk about gratitude! Because it truly changed my life.
I started keeping a gratitude journal to help me keep my thoughts focused on positive things. This simple exercise of writing down ten things I was grateful for every night before bed completely transformed my circumstances.
I swear, the days where I was practising daily gratitude were my happiest, luckiest days. It only took 21 days of doing this to make gratitude a habit – now I no longer need (although I still like) to keep a journal as instead the thoughts just come naturally throughout the day.
As I’m using things I would have taken for granted in the past, I appreciate them. When I’m having my shower in the morning, I think about how grateful I am for warm, running water. When I’m walking to my office, I think about how much I appreciate my job.
When I look up to the sky at night, noticing all the little stars gleaming through the darkness, I think about how lucky I am to have lived another day, and how grateful I am to be a part of our beautiful planet earth.
When I’m driving around in my car, I think about how much I love it and how thankful I am for it.
About a year ago, I drove past an office I used to work in, and I remember feeling so incredibly happy as I saw it.
The sight of this place used to make me feel sick sometimes – I felt trapped there. Now, as I drove past, I felt nothing but gratitude for that place. Even for all the negative experiences I had there. They shaped me as a person, taught me lessons, and made me appreciate my next job even more than I would have.
I wish, wish, wish I’d been practising gratitude during the time that I had been working there. I probably would have had a completely different experience there if I had been.
Anyway, I drove past this old office – a place that I had wanted to get out of so badly at one point, a place I’d often worried I’d never be able to leave – a place that was now just a distant memory I had no connection to anymore.
I thought about how far I had come. That was my favourite gratitude moment so far.
You’ll have ‘gratitude moments’ too. They hit you like lightbulb moments – when you realise what you have, and feel so truly happy for it, that you never forget it.
A roof over our heads, a hot meal every night, comfy clothes and a warm bed to sleep in.
Part of practising gratitude is not complaining. If you’re complaining, you’re not being grateful. Sometimes we do take things for granted, we’re human.
And we’re constantly being fed negativity in the media, so sometimes our first instinct is to complain. But if I ever do, at least I’m conscious of it now and can remind myself not to do it in the future. Especially when it comes to the small things.
How to put this into practice:
To kick off your new grateful mindset, I highly recommend you start a gratitude journal and keep it going for at least 21 days. Every day, list at least 5 things that you’re grateful for and why on a piece of paper, your phone or your laptop.
Then read over the list and really appreciate everything on it. You could even speak your list into your phone’s voice recorder and listen back to it, if you really just CBA. Pick a method that’s enjoyable and convenient for you.
I personally think you should write them out by hand though. It’s powerful – trust me.
However you choose to go about it, gratitude journaling for a month is a must. It’s the only way to rewire your brain to think about gratitude every day. By the end of the month, you’ll be able to instantly switch to a state of gratitude every time you go to complain about something.
Also, tell people you’re grateful for them! I tell my friends and family I appreciate them all the time. It helps to strengthen your relationships and gives you more things to add to your list!
Eliminate limiting beliefs
There are millions of people around the world who are reaching their goals and living their dreams.
So why can’t you?
There’s no reason why you can’t. You may think you can’t, because you don’t have enough money or enough time, for example. These are limiting beliefs, and those were two of my favourites.
Money doesn’t have to stop you or hold you back. People go from rags to riches – having nothing to having everything, all the time. And they do it by being resourceful.
These types of people find a way to make it happen without money. Because they simply refuse to accept that a lack of money is a big enough reason to stop them from achieving their dreams.
They know that ‘I don’t have enough money’ is a limiting belief, and that drive and passion to succeed won’t let them believe it. They know there must be a way.
We’re born into a society that tells you that you can’t. There’s not enough. Training your mind to change your thoughts helps you to block those negative messages out so you can move towards your goals without any doubt in your mind that you can achieve them.
If I had allowed myself to believe that I didn’t have enough money to follow my dream, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now.
Remember: you have just as much of a right as anyone else on this planet to achieve your dreams.
Successful people are still just people. They’re human beings, just like you and me.
But they believe they can be successful and achieve greatness and that’s why they do. They know there’s more to life, and that’s what you need to know too.
There’s nothing you can’t have if you want it.
That’s the beauty of life. You can have what you want, be who you want to be, do what you want to do.
Some things might take longer to achieve. And sometimes the things you want the most can be the hardest to acquire.
But that’s where your determination and your faith come in. And you’ve gotta believe that you can.
You can change your circumstances and your life, and it all starts with changing your mindset.
I got rejected hundreds of times before I got my first writing job. I didn’t have any experience. If I had allowed myself to stay in the belief that I couldn’t get a writing job because I didn’t have experience, I would have stopped trying (which I did for a while) and I wouldn’t have my dream job now.
Eliminate limiting beliefs from your mind because they don’t feel good. They don’t make you feel excited or happy about life. They make you feel stuck, hopeless, like you shouldn’t dare to think big. Don’t allow them to defeat you.
This is undoing years of negative, yet familiar thought patterns, some of which may have been introduced to you from childhood.
This is training your mind to agree when you think ‘I can do this’.
This is stopping those natural feelings of doubt and uncertainty from creeping up on you when you think about something you want.
This is facing your fears because once those doubts are gone, all there is left to do is chase your dreams. No excuses!
How to put this into practice
First, identify your limiting beliefs. To stop them, you need to recognise them when they pop up.
Write down a list of things you really want to achieve. Stop as you write, and just notice the thought or feeling that crops up when you read it back. Is it fear? Is it doubt? Then think about where that’s coming from.
To me, a limiting belief is any thought you have that’s holding you back from going for something that you want.
You know deep down that there’s a solution, but the problem seems so much bigger. Here are some examples.
I don’t have enough money to do that
I don’t have enough time to do that
I’m not good at doing that
I don’t know how to do that
I can’t do that
You know that helps? Reading success stories. Watching inspirational films.
Inspiration is the key! The more you see other people around you, living life with no restrictions and chasing their dreams, the more you will believe it is possible for you as well.
Surround yourself with people who believe anything is possible. No Debbie Downers. Read about people who believe anything is possible. Then start to believe it yourself.
Surround yourself with success so you’re thinking about that instead of failure. I read blogger success stories every single day. I’d probably crumble under my fears if I didn’t make a conscious decision to stay focused on the positive.
It’s OK to be scared. It’s OK to be nervous. It’s OK to feel anxious. As long as you’re going to do it anyway.
Take it one step at a time and you’ll get there! Promise!
I hope you’re feeling inspired and ready to start training your mind to get rid of all those negative thoughts so you can live the life you deserve 🙂
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