Saturday, 14 April 2018

Wellbeing Project 9 - Change language to change thinking

Think Yourself Better

Do you find yourself deteriorating into negative thinking or using negative words in your speech the minute you get stressed, feel challenged or something doesn’t go your way? And do you find that the situation then gets worse? You end up feeling depressed or you end up in argument or walking away? And then you go into a further negative thought spiral because you’re disappointed in your ability to handle the situation?

They say it’s easy to think and therefore speak positively when everything is going well, the challenge is to think positively when facing adversity, let alone repeated adversity. It is our mindset, our beliefs, our words that determine how we perceive the problem and our ability to overcome the problem. We can never change what someone else does or the event itself, we can only change our own reaction to their behaviour or the event. 

If we are predisposed to be negative, we need to consciously change the words we use in our thoughts to change our beliefs, our feelings, our energy so we can be the best version of us. How can you make small changes to start changing your thinking and in turn what you believe? 

In the first place, pay attention to your inner voice. How do you talk to yourself? Is the vocabulary you use supportive and encouraging? Or do you blame, accuse or limit yourself? Whatever words or phrases you repeat daily, your brain will eventually believe to be true because it becomes a habit through repeated wiring. So if you continually have angry thoughts, depressing thoughts or dismissive thoughts, you are reinforcing that thought pattern and it becomes a way or life.

You can start to undo it by becoming aware of those thoughts, challenging them and choosing to use different words - affirming, optimistic and respectful words. When you find yourself saying to yourself “I can’t do this,” you can listen to that inner voice or you can take a fly-on-the wall perspective and coach yourself into an alternative belief where you can say “I can do this” or even better “I’ve got this.” Be definitively positive and think as if you are already doing it. 

Don’t tell yourself ‘not to be ridiculous’ in that moment as that’s putting yourself down, find a phrase that you would use for your best friend, maybe ‘Come on, remember to focus on what you want’. Avoid the ‘always’ and ‘never’ thinking trap as that statistically cannot be true and will just undermine you. Find the evidence of what you have done in the past that has worked in similar situations.  

What about the moments, when you find yourself saying ‘but’ to the advice that others are giving you or we are giving ourselves? Yes, sometimes our friends really haven’t understood the problem from our perspective and we need to just acknowledge they are only trying to be helpful and say ‘thank you’. Saying ‘but’ just sends us into a negative thought spiral to a place where we feel powerless, or gets us into an unnecessary argument. Remember the impact when someone says ‘but’ to our idea - we feel deflated or if they do it repeatedly we end up feeling like giving up helping them. What would happen if you removed it from the sentence and replaced it with ‘and’?

And you can look out for these linguistic patterns in your interactions with others. Respond less quickly to the situation, take a moment to breathe and think about the words you could use to change the situation. Use constructive words, to influence their thinking positively. Don’t press their buttons by using ‘always’ or ‘never’ when they’ve done something you’re not happy with. And avoid ‘but’.

Change your language and change your thinking. Change your language and change their thinking. 

Rewire your brain with positive words and think yourself into being the best version of you. 

You’ve got this!

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