Fixing Your Negative Thoughts

By the time I reached my 50s I knew I had been plagued all my life with a constant loop tape in my head of negative thoughts about myself. I learned about this negative loop in my 30s but back then everything I tried did not get rid of it. Even though I heard them and was aware, nothing I had ever heard, or read, or tried did anything to stop or even lighten them. They were as insistent as they ever had been.

Do you have this negative feedback loop tape constantly running in your head? At times keeping you awake at night? Have you tried unsuccessfully to stop it? And no matter how much you try to not do it, does it keep insistently looping? The solution, I have learned, is simple, but it may not be so easy.

Negative feedback thoughts are a habit, and with habits you first need to become aware of them. Then you need to understand that it is a habit of negative thinking that began a long time ago; perhaps during your childhood.

The human brain is amazingly efficient. It has to be in order to store and recall the billions of bits of information that go into it daily. Most of it our unconscious mind filters out as unimportant. The brain also categorizes the feelings your thoughts produce. You may feel nothing about that tree over there, but this morning you have had several feelings resulting from various events, both past and present.

Traffic was horrible

Traffic was horrible making me almost late for work. I was annoyed and I didn’t get to sleep until 2:00 AM and then didn’t want to get up at seven. I was tired. Feelings of annoyance and tiredness came up immediately because the feelings about those things are familiar.

The negative feedback loop works the same way but it goes back much further in time. So if something bad happened to you as a child, for instance, you may be reliving that memory every time the familiar feeling comes back, whether from a thought about it or from an event that triggered it. I hope this makes at least some sense to you because it is the way out of the negative feedback dilemma. There are many programs that help change the negative loop, like bio-feedback and tapping.

The guaranteed method is through affirmations you can do yourself. I didn’t learn about this until I was over fifty. Up to that time I believed that negative self-talk is a necessary result of our humanness, everybody has it, and no one can do anything about it. I believed that because methods I had tried were unsuccessful.

But you can do something about it because it’s a habit, and you can change your habits. When I started working to change my negative thought habits it took less than two months to go from being mostly negative, about myself and everything else, to being a positive person most of the time. Imagine! Just two short months. And I have a system that will help you do it too.

As I said, negative self-talk is a habit. In your brain the neural path that is accessed by a thought is wired or linked to how you habitually feel when you think the thought. Like when you feel when you are driving home (on auto-pilot) and your car seems to “know” how to get there. Not much thinking about it. Right?

The feeling is just a habit of feeling that way about it. Start to feel differently about it and you will eventually change your “habit” to one you would rather have.

I’ll start with one example from my own experience: I used to think “I am useless.” What event triggered the thought? Something that made me feel useless again, like so many times before.

What are your negative triggers?

What triggers negative thoughts for you? Begin to compile a list of your negative thoughts as best you can. If you feel like there are just too many limit your list to ten. Try as best you can to identify their triggers, or, what just made you think it.

On a blank sheet of paper make two columns. In the left column write down the thoughts. Now in the right column create a statement that says the opposite. So to argue with “I am useless” I would say “I am useful.” Do it with all your statements. Look at your list every day and try to be aware during the day when one of the thoughts comes up. Do this throughout the day with any negative thought, even ones not on your list.

When the thought comes up you need to state the opposite statement out loud. Say it three times to reinforce the opposite belief. Believe me, these are just beliefs that you have kept, unknowingly, and you are now knowingly stating the opposite, which you will know is also true.

The brain will start to form a new neural pathway that leads to the new belief (we have billions of neural pathways). Neural paths are fragile when new so you have to stay committed to the process to reinforce them. Don’t give up too early if you’re not seeing results. The results will take time but when you start to see results you can be happy that the results you get are permanent.

Give yourself about a month to start seeing the results and two months of continuous reinforcement for a general negative perspective to change to a positive one.

Sheri Fawson