Our thoughts have more influence on us than we think they do. They decide our next actions, our perspective, our feelings & emotions on a subconscious level. Good news is: we can become aware of our thoughts, spot thoughts that do not serve us, and replace them with new and healthy ones. We have the power to take matter into our own hands.
Often, when we feel overwhelmed, it’s because our thoughts are letting us down. We all have a sage and a child in our mind, whispering their advice to us at any time during the day. The sage, the wise voice, often nudges us in the right direction and tells us what is the best thing to do in the long run. For example: leave early to be on time for your meeting. The child, however, wants to play, relax and take things easy. The child will tell you it’s okay to scroll on Instagram for the next 5 minutes, which ends up being 15 minutes, which makes you run late. Recognize these voices?
Luckily, as I said, there is our awareness behind it all. In mindfulness, we focus on this awareness as it being our true selves. When we spot a thought, the awareness that is spotting it, is you. You can decide whether this thought is true or not. When we hear the whisper of the sage or the child, we hear it – the awareness behind it – so again, we have a choice on what to do.
In this blogpost, I’ll guide you on how to change your mindset: become aware of your thoughts, investigate them and then replace them accordingly with new and healthy ones.
1. Become aware of your negative thoughts
The first step is to catch yourself thinking negatively and noticing that repetitive thought circling around in your head again. Simple spot the thought, and say to yourself: here is this thought, and it is passing through my mind. See it as something separate from you, which it is. The moment you notice that thought, you give it less power. You don’t identify with it anymore, because there is the you who notices the thought, and there is the thought. So, this thought is not you. This is the first step, and it’s a very powerful one.
This requires practice and mindfulness, so if you are here right now, then you’re already very far.
2. Challenge these thoughts. Are they true? Or false?
Next up is looking at this thought from your point of view and thinking whether this thought is true. Is this thought a fact, or is it speculation? “I will probably fail at the exam tomorrow because I am not good enough” is not a fact, it is not true, it is only a speculation, a fear in this case that your mind comes up with. Recognise if a thought is true or made up by your mind.
3. Discover if the thought wants to teach you or harm you
This is an important part. After recognising we are not the thought, and recognising the thought is not true, we have the choice: let it go or investigate it and replace it. In this scenario, we will investigate it. Does this thought protect me from something, teaches me something, or is it simply destructive?
“I will probably fail at the exam tomorrow because I am not good enough” can look like a harmful thought at first sight, but maybe you can take action from this thought. Are you well prepared? Have you studied for this exam? Do you still have work to do, is there room for improvement? Try to look for the lesson in the thought. Not all thoughts are useful or here to teach us, but it helps in letting go and prevents the thought from repeating itself again.
Thoughts that keep repeating themselves are unprocessed and will keep circling around in your mind until you have processed them, which means sit with them and learn the lesson. It’s the same with real life lessons: you will end up attracting the same situation over and over again until you have learned the lesson and deal with it.
4. Replace them with healthy ones
The last part is super important and will really shift your mindset. When you spot the thought, recognise it is not you, recognise it is true or not, you have the choice to change the way you talk to yourself. Instead of thinking: “I will probably fail because I am not good enough”, think: I am doing the best I can. I will make myself proud.
From this mindset, you will take further action in the desired direction you want to go. How can I make myself proud? What actions can I take? How can I make sure I ace this exam?
When you come from that new mindset, of thinking: I am good enough. I make myself proud. I will pass this exam, you will automatically start taking action followed and inspired by these thoughts.
And that is how, ultimately, your thoughts shape your reality. By changing the way you talk to yourself, you change your perspective, which changes the actions you take, and actions turn into habits, etc etc.
Thoughts are a powerful thing. Whenever you catch yourself having thoughts that do not serve you, become aware of it, question it and then replace it. It will do wonders. It rewires your brain to see the good in a situation.
This is one aspect of shifting your mindset and remaining positive and hopeful during challenging times, or any situation, really.
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