Today’s big idea is that it is possible to get rid of negative thoughts.
After all, we all love a detox diet or de-cluttering our homes, but an important thing we don’t pay as much attention to is how to get rid of negative thoughts. And if you’re not taking stock of the things you tell yourself on the regular, guess what–you’re going to make the same choices that led you to feeling like you needed that detox and that de-cluttering in the first place.
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When you weed out negative thoughts, you not only get rid of notions that are bring you down, you also make space for ideas that lift you up. This is such a good trade, y’all. I’ve got four strategies you can use to weed out those negative thoughts. But before I share them, I’ve got to give you my same old shpiel that I say over and over again: You can’t change a habit you don’t know you have, it’s hard to weed out a negative thought you don’t realize is there.
So the place to start is get curious about the kinds of stuff you’re thinking
And I don’t mean that in an upset, judgmental, like, what are ya thinking?! Kind of way. I mean that in a wait, was that I just thought? Let me just make a note of that.
So, if you walk into the kitchen and get a pit in your stomach because there are dishes everywhere, food out on the counter, and cabinet doors open, and find yourself thinking things like, our house is a pig sty, no one cares about keeping things clean but me, I have to do all the work around here, or any variation of the above, take a second to step out of the stream of being bombarded by that thought, and just acknowledge it. Kind of like, hey, there’s a negative thought!
If you notice that you just can’t seem to get work done because you keep getting distracted by texts, or social media, or emails, and you have that moment of feeling there’s something wrong with you because you can’t seem to get anything done, well, you guessed it, all you have to do first is simply take note of it.
Once you’ve identified a negative thought in the wilds of your brain, There are four different strategies you can use to get it outta there.
1. You can cancel it
You notice it’s happening and you just thinking, nope, I’m not even entertaining that thought. It’s like the Ariana Grande song, thank you, next! Or you can say to yourself, I cancel that thought. Or, I reject that thought.
2. You can replace it with something positive and loving
So when you start feeling down because you haven’t gotten any work done in the last hour you can tell yourself something like: I’m doing the best I can. Or, this is hard but it will get better. Or, this will work out better than I could imagine.
3. You can completely exaggerate it
This may sound like you’re giving that thought more power, but really what you’re doing is giving yourself a chance to see how untrue it is. So if you have a thought of, Why me? You notice it, and then think to yourself, Yes, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world and I will never amount to anything more than a hill of beans! Hopefully you can make yourself see the ridiculousness of the thought and maybe even have a laugh about it, which really releases the energy.
4. You can acknowledge it and give it a name
For example, when you notice your partner is nowhere to be found and the kids need a snack and you start thinking “they do whatever they want and I’m the one left holding the bag!” you can say, oh, there’s my resentment again. In order to be able to name something, you have to observe it, which means you have some distance between it and you. Also, naming those thoughts will help you notice themes–and when it’s time to have a talk with your partner about how you’re feeling about the split in childcare duty.
Of course this isn’t a one and done
Negative thinking is a habit and habits are tough to break because they’ve become unconscious. But your brain is also very adaptable, It can settle into new habits over time and with consistency. All change starts with awareness.
Every time you notice you’ve fallen back in to the negative thinking habit, remember you’ve got four tools for getting rid of them. Again, they were:
You can make a chant out of it: “Cancel! Replace! Exaggerate! Name! That’s the name of the game!”
And if you’d like just gobs and gobs of suggestions of specific positive thoughts to replace your negative thoughts with, check out Louise Hay, she is the mother of affirmations and has dozens of books and gobs of articles and videos online about them.