Put a rubber band around your wrist.
Throughout your day, when you notice the rubber band, stop for a moment and examine the thoughts you were just thinking. Were they positive, neutral, or negative?
As you examine your thoughts, also pay attention to how you feel. Are you calm? Agitated? Anxious? Irritated? Energized?
Take a moment to jot down your thoughts and feelings when you do this. For a full week, keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings when you stop to examine them. It will be eye-opening.
Most of us have far more negative or neutral thoughts than positive.
Your thoughts have tremendous power over you. They create your feelings, which in turn create the tenor and productivity of your day. Your emotional feelings also impact your physical feelings. They can make you feel full of energy and creativity. Or they can drag you down, make you lethargic or exhausted. They can even make you sick.
Dozens of studies have proven how obsessive negative ruminating creates a self-defeating cycle that retards the body's healing process. Even negative thinking about possible negative outcomes can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Take the “nocebo” effect for example. This is the dark side of the placebo effect (in which patients recover or have positive results even when taking a sugar pill). The nocebo effect was evident when patients in double-blinded clinical trials were warned about side effects they may experience with the real drug. Approximately 25% experienced sometimes severe side effects, even when just taking sugar pills.
Your thoughts have the power to create your life. And you have the power to create your thoughts. Knowing how powerful your thoughts are, you must regain control of them and retrain your brain to think differently. Awareness is the first step toward change. That's why the rubber band exercise is so important. It awakens you to the negative dream you've been creating for yourself.
Let's look at 15 common negative thoughts holding you back from health and happiness.
1. I am helpless, I have no control.
Helplessness is a learned behavior that may or may not stem from real life debilitating circumstances. But constantly thinking helpless thoughts only reinforces the feelings of having no control — and therefore negates your ability to empower yourself. Helplessness leads to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, further entrenching you in a compromised life.
New positive thought: I am powerful and in control of my life and destiny. I have the ability to create my life just as I want it to be.
2. I'm probably going to get sick.
As mentioned above, the nocebo effect is powerful. If you tell yourself you're going to get sick, you're increasing the changes that you will. Stop ruminating about your health or your fears of illness or death. Retrain your brain to think healthy life-affirming thoughts.
New positive thought: Good health is my birth right, and I am immune from illness. I bless my body daily and take good care of it.
3. Nothing good ever happens for me.
It's easy to host a mental pity party when you've encounter a failure or been passed up for something good. But focusing on the situation and assuming it defines your future only assures that it WILL define your future. Good things can and will happen for you again.
New positive thought: Every day I am surrounded by an abundance of opportunities. Good things keep on happening to me.
4. He/she doesn't really love me.
When we have a disagreement with our spouse or partner, or they let us down in some way, it's easy to fall into the mental trap of feeling unloved and unappreciated. We ruminate over the situation and the poor treatment we've received and determine they must not really love us. This fosters emotional insecurity and neediness which truly does jeopardize the relationship and your partner's feelings.
New positive thought: I release a desperate need for love and welcome the joyful experience of love.
5. I'm afraid I can't do this.
Life presents us with challenges, difficult tasks, and even positive new opportunities that feel daunting. Even when we want something desperately, our inner fears and insecurities whisper in our ears telling us we're incapable or not strong enough to do what must be done. These negative thoughts are nearly always untrue. We ARE capable of doing what we set our minds to. It's only the negative thoughts that keep us from achievement.
New positive thought: I accomplish everything I set out to do. I easily stay focused on my objectives and release all fear of failure.
6. I will never lose all this weight.
When you are overweight, the thoughts of all it takes to lose the weight feels impossible. Finding the energy and motivation to exercise, change your diet, and be consistent and disciplined almost doesn't seem worth it. But you know the health implications of holding on to the weight, not to mention what it's doing to your self-esteem. All of the negative thoughts are making it even harder to take the first step toward health.
New positive thought: I AM motivated to lose every ounce of body fat that I desire. It is so easy for me to lose body fat that the extra weight just falls off my body.
7. I'm not deserving, I'm not good enough.
We all feel we're not good enough from time to time, but when these thoughts of low self-worth are constant, they impact how you appear to others. Your lack of confidence in yourself ensures that others won't be confident in your abilities or attracted to you. Believing in yourself and your inherent worthiness are essential for happiness and success in life.
New positive thought: I am deserving, worthy and entitled to success, happiness, and well being. I have confidence in myself and my abilities to do anything.
8. I feel terrible, I have no energy.
It's hard not to focus on how you feel when you have low energy days or you're feeling under the weather. But focusing on your physical distress only highlights your discomfort and tells your brain to send low energy signals to your body.
New positive thought: I let go of all resistance to perfect health. I feel increasingly energetic and comfortable inside and out.
9. Why can't I be happy? I'm never happy.
There are days and even weeks when we simply don't feel happy. Maybe things aren't going the way we want them to in our lives. Or maybe it's simply inexplicable. Unhappiness just settles over us like a dark cloud. Whatever the reason for your unhappiness, pondering it and wondering why you feel the way you do continues to keep your mind engaged in unhappy thoughts. The first step toward happiness is changing your thoughts.
New positive thought: I am grateful for this wonderful life. I am thankful for everyone who has touched my life and made it worth living. Being happy comes easy to me. Happiness is my second nature.
10. I can't stand that person. I am so angry.
We have encounters with people every day who offend us, yank our chains, or make us feel angry or hurt. We roll the negative encounter around in our brains, trying to justify our position and mentally demean the other person. How could they say that? What a jerk. The more we think about the situation, the angrier or more hurt we feel. We blow the situation out of proportion or give power to the other person by sinking into negativity. And of course anger takes a toll on your physical and mental well-being.
Positive new thought: I respect and love myself enough to let go of anger and live in peace. I am able to diffuse my anger and channel it in a more productive way.
11. I'm getting so old, I can't do anything anymore.
Aging is scary. Every day we are presented with new evidence we aren't the same young thing we once were. We look in the mirror and feel our opportunities are slipping by and our abilities are compromised. As we mentally reinforce these thoughts, we start to feel old, act old, and are perceived as too old by the people around us. But are negative thoughts are playing tricks on us. We can accomplish great things, even as we get into our 70's, 80's, and 90's.
Positive new thought: I am full of youthful energy. Each day I feel younger and more alive. I live a healthy, active, productive, and exciting life.
12. I will never find love.
When you are without a significant other in your life, it feels as though the entire world is in love except you. Every day you think about the lack of love in your life, and your thoughts make you feel desperate and lonely. You wonder over and over if you will ever find love and come to believe that it's not in the cards for you. You feel unlovable, and those feelings are reflected in your behavior and demeanor, pushing away any potential love interests.
Positive new thought: I open my heart to myself and I trust that true love will follow. I am lovable and worthy of receiving love.
13. I will never forgive him/her.
People close to us can betray or wound us with their words and actions. They can hurt us deeply, sometimes without acknowledging what they've done or apologizing. It's hard to believe someone we care about could do this to us. Your pain is so deep you think constantly about how this person hurt you and how you can never forgive them or forget what they've done. With every thought, the pain is more profound and the anger boils your blood. You have a growing seed of negative energy expanding within you, causing physical and emotional anguish.
Positive new thought: I am ready to be healed. I am willing to forgive. All is well. I forgive everyone in my past for all perceived wrongs. I release them with love.
14. I'll never make enough money.
A lack of money makes us feel insecure and frightened. When we aren't making enough money or we're in debt, we become desperate and panicky. The more we think about our circumstances, the more frightened and insecure we become. Our judgement becomes impaired because we are making decisions from a perspective of lack. Our thoughts translate into poor decisions, low confidence, and inertia which hold us back from doing what needs to be done to make more money.
Positive new thought: I am capable and worthy of making more than enough money to support myself and live a great life. I am blessed with abundance right now and grateful for my ability to make money.
15. I'm overwhelmed. My life is a mess.
Our busy lives filled with work, family obligations, distractions, and chores make us feel overwhelmed. Sometimes life is so busy and demanding you feel paralyzed and out of control. How will you ever get out from under this mound of things to do? What should you do first? The more you think about it, the more panicky and distressed you feel. As your thoughts roil in your head, you can't do anything but worry about how you'll ever get it all done.
Positive new thought: I more capable than anyone of deciding what is most important to do. I feel confident in my abilities and have plenty of energy to take action and get things done to create a balanced, calm life.
Negative thinking is a mental trap that compromises your experience of life, as well as your emotional and physical well-being. Taking control of your negative thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts is the first step in changing the reality of your life. As your thoughts change, your feelings and actions will follow, allowing you to experience joy, great health, and success.
What negative thoughts do you find stuck in your head? How have they impacted your health and happiness? Please share your experiences in the comments below.