Are Your Thoughts Doing You Any Favors?
It was Norman Vincent Peale who said "Change your thoughts and you change your world
There's no shortage of advice on how to change your thoughts, mind-set, perception or even the way your brain is wired; on the internet, in books, seminars, courses and workshops.
This is all fine and good. But whether they work or not hinges on the fact that change must come from within and anything otherwise is considered coercion.
Our thoughts are the result of a constant ebb and flow between the conscious and unconscious mind. They give rise to our emotions and dictate how we feel. They are powerful beyond measure.
It is our thoughts about a person, event or situation that upset us long after they have gone. The question is; do we let our thoughts control us or are we aware of them? Do we stop to think about our thoughts and where they are coming from?
Are they coming from our egos or voices from the past - perhaps the voices of our mother, father, teacher, sibling or friend? Are they stored neatly away in compartments or just scattered in any which way?
In the course of one of my programs I met a lady who was in her 40's. She had everything going for her but she said she sabotaged herself and usually didn't achieve her goals. Through the course we found that she did all the right things but the sabotage only came at the end.
In the course of questioning her we realized it was a voice that was stopping her. When asked "whose voice is it?" she looked at me in horror and burst out in tears saying "oh my God it's my mother's voice" Her mother had put her down from a child and told her she would amount to nothing.
As soon as she realized that same old voice was playing in her mind she wondered why she had not picked this simple point up herself. I got her to play a game of changing her mother's voice to Donald Duck's voice. She was in stitches in seconds and said that simple strategy would work. For her a little thing like changing her internal dialogue was enough to change her life around. Her mother's voice had been muted.
I came across a very interesting method years ago in an article by author Caroline Myss. She talked about a man named Willie Smith who practised 21-day negativity fasts. Willie Smith was a drug dealer turned minister and gym trainer.
He strived consciously to refrain from thinking negative thoughts and instead practiced gratitude, breathing, walking away from stressful situations and meditation. He countered any arising negativity with positive affirmations or inspiring quotes, which he carried around with him. Now that certainly took a lot of effort and commitment. I personally prefer to work with the strategy of what's not working and blow it out like I did with the lady.
Identifying limiting beliefs is another way to recognise negative thought patterns, which hold us back from life. We are often oblivious to the unhelpful thoughts that drive us. These usually emerge in patterns - the same thoughts over and over again or thoughts that connect together in a story.
In order to identify the pattern it is helpful to write your driving thoughts down on a piece of paper. Over time a pattern emerges and helps you identify the source of the thought pattern. Getting rid of these driver beliefs connected to our thoughts is then easy.
Even seemingly successful and emotionally healthy people may find a thought or two that does not serve them. Some common limiting beliefs that stop people from moving to the next level in life are "I'm not good/attractive/interesting/smart/rich enough" or "I'm shy" are among an endless array.
Another great way to observe and identify our thought patterns is meditation. This age old practice allows us to improve our focus by watching our thoughts as they come and go.
Most people are on autopilot and this does not augur well for introspection. You'll be amazed at the number of people who are unleashing their full potential and changing mindsets just from a simple thing like identifying their driver thought patterns and changing them.
Ultimately it does not matter how you choose to harness your thoughts and make them work for you. The important step is that you do it.Sylvia Fernandes is the Founder & CEO of VIA Frontiers established in Sydney in 2002. She is a corporate NLP trainer and consults in creating effective people in the Asia Pacific Region. She is also the author of Bye Bye Black Cat - Turn Your Luck Around to Realise Opportunities - available at http://www.amazon.com. Go to www.viafrontiers.com or email email@example.com for more information.