Do you know that you have more than 6,000 thoughts a day? That is insane if you think about it (oops another thought!). But this number also shows that what you think is important! It matters what you think because your thoughts shape your life.
The true power is within you as Louis Hay used to say. And if we only can control our thoughts and master what they are, we could really rule our lives.
I find it easier said than done. Why?
Because often the way you think is a habit. You have patterns that you follow regardless if you are aware of them or not. And some of those patterns can lead to mental stress.
What's more, once a certain way of thinking becomes your default way of thinking you are no longer aware of the thoughts that created the pattern in the first place. But this doesn't mean that there isn't anything you can do to stop the stressful thoughts.
In today’s blog post, I want to take things to another level, a mental level if you wish, and help you to identify the three most common thought systems which bring you stress. Once you recognise that you follow a pattern, you would be able to search for tools to help you to rewire the way you think.
But before we start, are you part of my community? Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time and INVEST well in your wellness!
So, let’s get started.
What Is a Stressful Thought?
We all have a belief system that we use to make decisions in our lives. We may not recognise that we use one, but nevertheless, we do. Psychology uses the term limiting beliefs. Anthony Robbins divides our thoughts into empowering or limiting thoughts.
I rather like the emphasis on the ‘empowering’ thoughts because calling something as it is, can indeed empower us.
As the name suggests, the more limiting beliefs you have the harder it is to make any changes, look for a positive outlook, or move through challenges. Limiting beliefs can keep you stuck in old ways of doing things or prevent you from taking on challenges that would help you to grow. They will make you feel overwhelmed.
Limiting beliefs control the level of risk you are willing to take. I’m not talking about gambling a lot of money on the stock market when you have no clue how to play. I’m talking about taking risks to try something new and exciting, expanding your horizons so you can rewire your fear pathways, and making healthier lifestyle choices.
On the other hand, an empowering thought can help you to achieve more, succeed in your endeavours, and give meaning and purpose. Empowering thought will push you through the fear and show you that there is always another way of approaching a difficult situation.
Your thoughts can be a deal-breaker. As Henry Ford famously said: If you believe you can or you can't, you are right. If you believe in your abilities to do something, you will. But if you keep telling yourself something is impossible to overcome, you most likely stay put.
It can be very liberating to gain an understanding of how your decisions are being made. As they say, you can’t fix something if you don’t see that it is broken.
The first step is to write down all your thoughts about yourself, your abilities, your values, and your view of the environment and the world in general. Do you perceive the world as a place full of opportunities, or do you see that the world is out to get you?
Look at your list and divide the thoughts that are empowering and which ones are not so much.
Don’t be harsh on yourself. We need guidance in life, and our belief system is that guide.
You developed your code when you were a child. And as you grew, you took some of your parents’ and peers’ beliefs as your own. You used them for so long because they served you. They kept you alive mentally and physically.
Conflict arises when your life is not where you want it to be. Of a sudden, what kept you alive, is stopping you from growing. As with anything in life, you need to clean your mental house, so that whatever is no longer needed can be removed, and new thoughts can be added.
3 Common Thought Patterns
First of all, a thought is just a thought, and it can be changed. Our thoughts follow neuropathways and a lot of the time, they occur on autopilot. This means we do not spend a lot of time choosing what to think, we just do it.
Because a thought is just a thought, each one of us may use different words to describe the stress we experience. But the thoughts can be grouped into three categories:
The biggest mental stress comes from worrying. We literally worry about everything be it family, work, finance, how we look, what to eat for dinner, if we should marry this person or not, and so on. And we can easily switch from worrying about the past, the future, and the now.
But worrying is not all bad. Worrying is a sign that we care, and some level of worrying is good. Worrying becomes a problem when we stay in this state for too long. It becomes an obsession and turns into a serious mental disorder like depression or anxiety.
Have you ever found yourself thinking about a certain event, or if you should do something or not, and started adding more layers of imaginary scenarios? That’s overthinking. We tend to imagine things that are not there until the situation is way too big, too uncomfortable, or too risky to deal with.
Unfortunately, most of the time it is fear talking. When we act out of fear, we often catastrophise about the future, but in reality, we have no assurance that what we are predicting will even happen.
Our brains cannot distinguish what is real and what is not. Whatever we focus on becomes the reality for us.
The third type of thought pattern usually occurs just before we are about to go to bed. Have you ever lay in bed, rehearsing the day’s event? Going over and over the same scenario and adding worry to it, won’t do us any good.
You can’t change the past, so rehearsing the same thing and expecting a different result can cost us a lot of wasted time and mental energy. However, if you go over the event, look for the positives, and are grateful for the event, then you rewire your neuropathways.
How to Change Your Thought Patterns
There are a lot of tools that can help with changing our thought patterns, such as mindfulness practices, cognitive behavioural therapy, and guidance from a health practitioner such as a health coach or a therapist.
The process starts with becoming aware of what thoughts you have, and what patterns they created. Once you recognise your patterns and identify which ones don't serve you, you can begin the process of changing them. You create a new thought that you would like to install.
Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to change your default way of thinking. The way you think is part of your belief systems. You have been using your belief system for a really long time.
Your belief system is a habit now, it is natural that changing it will take some time.
Stop The Hijacking
We all use belief systems to guide us through life and help us with making decisions. Thoughts that are empowering in nature can lift us, broaden our horizons and create a positive outlook on life. On the other hand, limiting thoughts can keep us stuck and add fear which as a result will prevent us from taking needed risks.
It can be liberating to recognise that there are cognitions that add to our mental stress. Worrying, overthinking, and rehearsal are some of the most common thought patterns which can keep you stationary, turn into mental disorders and prevent you from living your life to the fullest.
But the power truly is within you, and I’m certain that you can tap into that power to turn your limiting beliefs into empowering ones.
Before you go, are you part of my community? Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time and INVEST well in your wellness!
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