By Dr. Paula Fellingham
Here’s the fifth blog in series of twelve called “How To Create Positive Change in Your Life”.
We’re going to go straight to learning a key skill. This may be the most important thing you learn today. I’ll teach you how to control your thoughts.
There are three steps: label; replace; focus forward.
Label your negative thoughts the moment they enter your mind. Like this:
- “That was negative.”
- “That was unkind.” (critical)
- “That wasn’t like me…I usually don’t think negative thoughts.”
Replace your negative thoughts:
Replacing negative thoughts is best done by trying to ‘be’ the person you’re thinking about, with his life experiences, needs and desires. This requires you to put yourself in the other person’s position and consider why he’s speaking or acting as he is.
- “I can understand why she’s doing that…it’s because she…”
- “If I understood her better, I’d probably like her more. I’ll get to know her.”
- “Hey – different strokes for different folks!”
Focus Your Thinking Forward
- “I usually don’t think unkind thoughts like that. I’ll do better next time.”
- “I might not have all the facts. I’ll learn more and then it’ll probably make sense.”
(For adults who regret their past actions)
- “I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. Now I have more information, and I’ll do better in the future.”
The steps to change negative self-beliefs aren’t difficult but as with all things worth doing, it requires effort. And yet – don’t let yourself become discouraged if changing your thought patterns is hard. Your previous ways of thinking are habits, and it takes about three to six weeks to break a habit.
I’d like you to help me illustrate this. Right now, sitting wherever you are, will you please fold your arms? Just fold them quickly, without thinking about it. Thanks. Now, unfold them. Yes, please do this ~ just unfold your arms and put them at your sides. Thank you. Now….fold your arms again, but this time fold them again the OPPOSITE way. How does that feel? Awkward? Yes. Habit is so powerful.
It all comes back to the question, “How badly do I really want to change?”