“For many, negative thinking is a habit, which over time, becomes an addiction… A lot of people suffer from this disease because negative thinking is addictive to each of the Big Three — the mind, the body, and the emotions. If one doesn’t get you, the others are waiting in the wings.” – Peter McWilliams
I refer to most of my negative thoughts as “the usual suspects.” For me most of my negative thoughts are part of a pattern that tells me I’m not lovable, I can’t do it, I’m not worth it, I don’t deserve it, I’m not enough; good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, experienced enough, successful enough. Most of the time I’m able to deal with the thought as it comes I’ve done enough personal work on myself to overcome the thought and focus on the tasks in front of me to living a GREAT LIFE. Every once in a while I’m bombarded with thoughts that paralyze me from taking action. In the past I’ve used food, women, drugs, alchohol, TV, the internet, and other people in self distructive ways so I wouldn’t have to deal with the thoughts. I destroyed my mind, body and emotional health. Today, I’ve developed a resilience against negative thinking that has transformed my life.
Under the GREAT LIFE page there is a simple but powerful exercise that helped me deal with negative thinking. It’s a four step process to turning around your negative thoughts. Since I had a very rough day I want to show you how I follow the formula to change the paralyzing thoughts into action. The following is a reminder of my 4 step process (Recognize, Reject, Release, and Replace. Follow this formula to removing negative thoughts from your life.
Recognize the thought: Usual suspects include: “I’m not enough” (smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, ______enough.) DO NOT IGNORE THE THOUGHT. Negative thoughts linger and when enough build up it’s like the bursting of a dam.
* For me today my negative thought was: I’ll never get a job I love, the dream of being a writer, speaker and workshop facilitator will never happen, I just need to get a job and forget what is really in my heart.
This is the kind of multiple thoughts that at once can be paralyzing. Let’s count them. 1. I’ll never get a job. 2. I’ll never be a writer. 3. Ill never be a Speaker. 4. I’ll never be a workshop facilitator. 5. I’ll have to forget the life that is in my heart. 6. I need to get a job.
Reject the thought by following these three steps:
- Is it true? If it isn’t true we can move forward.
- Is it permanent? If it is true, but not permanent you can change!!!!
- If it’s permanent, will you let it stop you? If it is permanent you can choose to let it stop you or you can find a way… There’s always a way!!!
Reject each thought one by one. 1. I’ll never get a job. That is not true. Fist of all I have a job. Second, though business is slow it will pick up. Finally, if I need to get a job, I’m smart and talented enough to work my way up from any bottom I am willing to start at! 2. I’ll never be a writer. Not true, I’m writing right now. 3 & 4. I’ll never be a speaker or workshop facilitator, I work as a facilitator and part time faculty at a college, I’m already a speaker and workshop facilitator. 5. I’ll have to forget the life that is in my heart. That is not true, I am committed to living a GREAT LIFE one day at a time, this is the life that is in my heart. AND 6. I need to get a job. This is not true. I need to earn more. There are lots of things I can do to earn while working toward my dream.
Release: “For today that thought will not stop me.” This simple act helps me to let go of my negative thinking and get focused on reality.
Replace: Turn the negative thought into a positive affirmation. “I will have lots of opportunities to work. I am a GREAT writer, speaker, coach, and workshop facilitator! I live a GREAT LIFE and I’m committed to the life that is in my heart. I am amazing at what I do and will earn by being of service to those I can help.”
I say this affirmation five times and throughout the day as I need to. It’s OK that we experience negative thinking from time to time. It’s not OK when we are paralyzed by it or feel trapped in our mind. Practice this 4 step process. Write it out and read it nightly. When I first developed this process, I wrote on each of my usual suspects and hung the process of replacing the thought around my bed. I’d read and memorize the response so when the thought comes up during the day, I am ready!