Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s an average of 2,500 – 3,300 thoughts per hour. According to some research, as many as 98 percent of those thoughts are exactly the same as we had the day before… talk about creatures of habit! Even more significant, 80 percent of those thoughts are negative or not self-serving.
Our thoughts shape our reality. If 80 percent of your recurring thoughts are negative EVERY DAY, how do you think that shapes your day?
The great Chinese philosopher – Lao Tzu – said: ‘Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habit. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.’
It All Starts with What’s In Your Head
The lens through which you view the world is predominately determined by your thoughts. For so many of us, we become numb to these recurring beliefs. After months and years and sometimes decades of the same limiting belief – our reality has become the living representation of the belief itself.
The frequency of those thoughts becomes so extreme that they engrain themselves into your everyday routine hiding in plain sight unbeknownst to the one person that created them.
For example – I remember, when I first started my business, I was a new mom, a new wife, a new homeowner, a new business owner and I was barely getting any rest. Every day I was beyond exhausted.
I didn’t recognize the limiting belief until about a year later, my husband pointed out that almost every hour of every day I was saying out loud that I’m exhausted. Of course, I was exhausted, my thought pattern was shaping my reality.
The Link Between What You Think, What You Feel and Your Behavior
Your mind is very powerful. Yet, if you’re like most people, you probably spend very little time reflecting on the way you think. After all, who thinks about thinking?
Your thoughts are a catalyst for self-perpetuating cycles. What you think directly influences how you feel and how you behave. So, if you think you’re a failure, you’ll feel like a failure. Then, you’ll act like a failure, which reinforces your belief that you must be a failure.
Once you draw a conclusion about yourself, you’re likely to do two things; look for evidence that reinforces your belief and discount anything that runs contrary to it.
Your feelings or emotional responses are the first signs of your thoughts manifesting. That’s usually the first line of defense we have against these bothersome and sometimes irritating negative thoughts. And… sometimes, these emotional responses are just as numbing as the thought itself.
For me, FEELING exhausted was normal, so rarely did I stop to ask why. When I did, I responded with my limiting belief which supported the negative thought – ‘I’m exhausted because I work so much.’
See how sometimes even our feelings can inevitably support the negative belief?
Okay, so my feeling is one of exhaustion because my recurring thoughts are about being exhausted, so how do I show up? How will my behavior inadvertently reflect the feeling… I’ll BE exhausted.
I remember at that time in my life, I would fall asleep typing at a computer… I was that exhausted. I could barely stay awake for a call. I was living on caffeine and chocolate, because my belief was that those things would give me energy. Unhealthy behaviors led to more unhealthy behaviors which led to more exhaustion.
Thoughts create feelings which elicit behaviors, and those behaviors perpetuate the feeling which reinforces the thought.
CONGRATULATIONS, now you understand how thoughts impact your reality. Now let’s talk about how to repair unhealthy beliefs.
How to Reverse Negative Beliefs
Negative thoughts and beliefs are sneaky and insidious; they take hold when you’re not paying attention and seep into every crevasse of your life. You can, however, train your brain to stop going straight to the negative and instead redirect to positive thoughts.
You are NOT a victim to the negative thoughts in your head – you have a say over which thoughts to pay attention to – a predisposition that takes simple practice to learn.
Step 1: When you experience a feeling or a trigger, STOP and reflect. Ask yourself – ‘Why I am a feeling this way?’ Separate yourself from the response, allow yourself to be your own best friend without judgement or self-hatred. Your answer to the why will reveal the thought pattern.
Step 2: Create a mantra that is in opposition of the negative or limiting thought. Choose a word or phrase that will help bring you peace and encourage you to focus on the positive.
Example: I’m exhausted…
Opposing Mantra: I’m living in full energy!
Once you choose your mantra, say it often. Set a reminder on your phone during the times you forecast you’ll need it most. Write it on a sticky note and place it in areas throughout your day to remind you to stay positive.
Step 3: Change your surroundings. Sometimes your thoughts can seem so loud that the best thing to do is to change your physical surroundings. Take a walk, go for a run, or meet up with a friend. The point is to engage in something other than the negative cycle so that you can come back to the problem later when you’re in a clearer head space.
Choose an activity or location that you find enjoyable and you know will leave you feeling better. If you need the company of others, be sure to surround yourself with people who will encourage your positive thinking.
Use our FREE actionable workbook to become aware of your negative thoughts throughout certain areas of your life and create a plan to course correct.
Negative thought patterns, particularly when they’ve become habitual, can be hard to break. Patterns that have been in place for years won’t be undone overnight, so it’s essential to be compassionate and patient with yourself as you work through them.
Remember that you are not a victim to your negative thoughts and that you can simply decide at any point in your life to believe something different. You are capable of achieving your grandest life and your limitations are only as real as you make them.