Can You Unlearn Negative Habitual Thinking?
Is it really possible to alter habitual thinking patterns to become more positive?
It’s been suggested as much as 95% of the brain’s 60,000 daily thoughts are habitual – that is, they’re the same things you think about every day. And 80% of those habitual thoughts are negative!
So if the numbers are correct, that’s more than 45,000 thoughts that don’t serve your happiness and wellbeing.
Every. Single. Day.
Just think, what might be possible if you dedicate time each day to making even 1% of your thoughts new, different or – better yet – more positive?
Where true change begins
It’s so easy to be dismissive of, or even resistant to, our ability to change. This is especially true when we consider those completely subconscious thought patterns that dominate our minds with seemingly little control from us. Change is possible though.
The key? It’s all about self-awareness. Was it really a bad day? Or was it five minutes that you milked all day?
Yep, I know it’s definitely easier said than done. But becoming more aware of what you’re thinking will allow you to see whether you’re filling your subconscious mind with positive, uplifting thoughts or destructive, toxic ones.
And when you put your positive pants on, others respond in kind. Positive thoughts, feelings and actions tend to lead to positive results. And the more you practise, the more you’ll see a healthy impact on your own emotional state.
The flip side is also true – you’ll likely notice how many other people seem ruled by their automatic negative thoughts!
You don’t have to do as you’ve always done
Your habits don’t have to hold you back, but if you fall into the pattern of just doing what you’ve always done, that’s exactly what will happen.
You’ll get the results you’ve always gotten and conscious positive thinking will seem out of your grasp. So it’s time to try something different.
Try this little activity to see what I mean. The next time you find yourself thinking something negative (and I bet it doesn’t take long!), see if you can spin it around to a more positive action.
Here’s an example most of us can connect with: you’re driving on a busy freeway and notice a car up ahead with its indicator on, trying to change into your lane. I bet your first thought is along the lines of, ‘What an idiot – can’t they see how bad the traffic is?! I bet they want to take the next exit. They should have been paying more attention and changed lanes ages ago.’ Yes? Be honest – we’ve all thought that at some point!
But this is a great opportunity to practise your positive habitual thinking. Time to inhale some good vibes. .
So instead of ignoring their indicator and driving on past so that the car can’t change lanes, take a deep breath and let them move over. It will take barely a moment out of your drive but several great things will happen.
Firstly, instead of having tense, negative energy running through your body as you try to zoom past the other car, you’ll feel much calmer (really). Then your brain will store that positive response and seek to make you aware of how good it felt. That clever brain of yours will want you to repeat the process, so now you’re on the path to making more habitual thinking changes. All from that one tiny action! Oh, and it’s likely the driver of the other car will be grateful, so you can feel pretty fabulous about your positive impact on someone else’s day too.
When you can get in touch with your thoughts and beliefs, you’ll begin to see the areas that could do with improvement or ‘reprogramming’. This is the first step to taking action to reframe the negative thoughts to ones that are positive and constructive.
Recognise, improve, change. Because what we see depends mainly on what we look for
To improve your thinking, career and life as a whole, you need to become much more aware of your habitual thinking. Changing this way of thinking takes perseverance and time, especially when it involves overcoming ingrained negative thoughts. But start with small actions and you’ll soon recognise a far bigger shift towards a constructive and more productive mindset.
And as they always say, when s–t happens – turn it into fertiliser!