Would you be friends with a person who lies to you all the time? Who barely supported your dreams and goals? Who physically stood in your way, pushed you down, and bullied you when you tried to be your best?
The answer to this questions is obvious- Heck No! That person sounds like a vile, terrible human being and I wouldn’t touch them with a 10 foot pole.
Unfortunately, it is all too common that our most important relationship is a relationship that looks just like this poor excuse for a friend.
You know that you have an unhealthy thought relationship if any of these things take place:
- You have anxiety, fear, or depression from bad thoughts about yourself
- You dwell on mistakes you have made in the past
- You choose unhealthy habits (drinking, drugs, smoking, junk food) to “take the edge off”
- You think in terms of the worst case scenario
- You glass is always half empty, and life doesn’t seem fun, exciting, or challenging anymore.
All of these thoughts are patterns that the brain develops through habit and repetition-and they are all lies.
Our brains don’t want to generate these thoughts, but the habit has become so ingrained that it’s simply the easiest way to think. Luckily, there is a easy-to-follow guide to improve the relationship you have with your thoughts:
- Relabel: Become aware of when your brain thinks negative thoughts. When you notice a negative thought pattern, label it using a description.
Examples: Spinning thoughts, spiraling thoughts, jumpy thinking, worst case scenario. “There I go with another worst-case scenario thought”.
- Reframe: Negative thoughts aren’t you, they are your brain’s habit of thinking. After you relabel, mentally acknowledge this fact, too.
Example: “It’s not me, it’s just my brain habit”. These words are your new best friend!
- 3. Refocus: Do something different than normal when the negative thought strikes. You aren’t ignoring the thought; instead you are beginning to associate the thought with a healthier activity- and one that will likely automatically switch your thoughts to positive thoughts, too.
Example: walks in nature, mindfulness, meditation, prayer, counting breaths, paying attention to sights/sounds/smells/senses of the present moment, calling a friend, working out.
- Revalue: Changing your belief about yourself is key in rewiring healthy, loving thinking. Learn how to care for yourself and notice the positive thoughts, too. Like refocusing, have list of positive affirmations to reinforce positive thoughts. And it’s 100% true that sometimes, you have to fake it ‘till you make it!
Example: spend time each day creating a list of 5 things you are grateful for.
Sometimes, these four steps are nearly impossible as the habit of negative thinking can be all-consuming. In these cases, it’s best to get professional help to rewire the brain.
Directed brain training can make rewiring your thought process simple and efficient in as little as 10 weeks. If you want this kind of support let me know. Contact Betsy. Consultations are free and always confidential.
*These four steps were inspired by the consulting work of Michael Behmer, Aspen Counseling Group and “You are Not Your Brain”, a book by Jeffrey M Schwartz and Rebecca Gladding. This book is on our recommended reading list!