How often do you have negative thoughts? Have you ever wondered to what degree your life experiences affect how you think, perceive, feel, react, and respond? Do you notice that your behavior or your defense mechanisms become triggered by certain issues time and time again?
As humans, we develop “habitual patterns” of behavior that are often based on our past experiences. These habitual patterns begin to shape our personality, our ego, and define who we are. If some of the patterns that are on the negative spectrum begin to rule our thoughts and actions, it may be time to uncover how they may be influencing the quality of our lives.
When awareness and acceptance of habitual patterns are realized, we can take responsibility and choose to shift the “limiting beliefs” to reprogram our minds. With mindful, compassionate, conscious, and supported system we can begin to clear away toxic thought patterns and replace them with higher vibration thoughts. Consciousness and awareness of the mind is the golden key here, and what can transform self-doubt, low self-esteem, injury, and illness into radiant inner health and happiness.
For the sake of this article, we will focus on the workings of the mind and look at ways in which we can learn to shift habitual thoughts that are limiting, negative, and depressive in nature.
The development of our core beliefs originate from the time of birth through to childhood and into adolescence. These core beliefs are closely linked and formed from our caregivers, parents, teachers, and our environment. If there was trauma at this time, the natural reaction for a child or adolescent is to create defense mechanisms for protection and these then go on to become unconscious habitual patterns. Psychologist Maria Stella states “As we grow up the patterns can manifest as addictions, self-sabotage, phobias, anxiety attacks, and other self-defeating patterns that cause us to act unconsciously or negatively.” (Source: mariastella.com)
At a time where anti-depressants, pain killers, and antibiotics are heavily prescribed to overcome unhappiness and illness, what if we can begin to recognize and accept habitual thought patterns that are repetitive and negative, and learn how to replace them with positive thoughts based on present moment awareness to begin the healing process?
Researcher and author, Dr. Joe Dispenza, combines the field of quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics in his latest book “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How To Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.” Dr. Dispenza explains that you are not doomed by your genes and hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. A new science is emerging that empowers all human beings to create the reality they choose, he says. Dr. Dispenza is convinced that your thoughts can change your reality.
It really is quite a miraculous phenomenon when you begin to break it down. Your body is wired to support and spark neurochemical changes in your brain that move in the direction of positivity and happiness. Specific learned neural patterns of thinking (based on past experiences) interrupt the process and the natural impulses. This is known as “toxic thinking” and certain patterns in the brain are subconsciously created out of the “fight or flight” system for protection and survival. This is a powerful inner working of the body and mind where fear takes over to prepare us to run away or confront a perceived threat. Fear activates the “fight or flight” stress reaction within the body and herein lies the big issue, this inner working in the body de-activates the higher thinking capacity of the brain by cutting off much of the oxygen flow.
Dr. Athena Staik puts it clearly, “the brain is always in either “protective mode” or “learning mode.” When it’s in “protective mode” its otherwise amazing capacity to make informed choices or decisions is not fully functioning. It is no longer in “learning mode.” Thoughts that are charged with negativity are often created from limiting beliefs in the subconscious and carried over from the formative years of our childhood. (Source: psychcentral.com)
HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES OF LIMITING BELIEFS:
- I will never be loved because I don’t deserve it
- If I say no to someone, they will reject me completely
- Others are always judging me, I will never fit in
- I am not good enough because I have never been the best at anything
- I will never have enough money
- It’s wrong to ask for help
- Physical or Psychological violence is ok when someone deserves it
Recent neuroscience studies demonstrate that if you truly want to change your life, you need to engage in a conscious study of your thoughts, and over time you may be able to direct your mind-body integration into one of higher vibration and happiness. The key ingredient in your success towards positive change is you….a conscious you…. who is ready to do the work.
TRY OUT THE FOLLOWING 6 STEPS
- Believe that you can control the quality of your thoughts. Welcome your conscious self as a tracker or a witness of your thoughts to bring yourself into present moment awareness.
- Keep a daily record of your negative thoughts and your limiting beliefs. Write down as many as you can remember at the end of your day. If you have time, write them as they come. You will need 3 days to record your thoughts. Record any focus on problems as opposed to solutions, being a victim in your thoughts, black and white thoughts, or write down when you use “never” or “always”. If you are open to share your process, ask a loved one or a colleague to gently remind you when you are speaking in negative language.
- Once you have a gauge on the negative thoughts and their frequency, identify their triggers. Write down specific examples of what set your mind into a chain reaction of negativity. Write down the feelings in your body when you encounter a trigger. Be specific, this acknowledgment can bring you into greater awareness, which can result in changing this habitual pattern.
- The next time you experience a trigger, as if you are flipping a switch, shift a negative thought into a positive one. (e.g. “My work is so stressful” to “How fortunate I am to have a job” or “My children are driving me crazy” into “How blessed I am to have a family.”) Keep flipping the switch.
- In tracking of your negative thoughts, make an opposing column for a corresponding positive thought. This may take some practice, be creative. (e.g. “I’m always exhausted” to “I am calm and ready to receive an excellent sleep tonight.”) This will begin to train your thoughts to be positive.
- Meditate using visualization techniques for mind-body integration, or spend time in nature. Begin to train your eye to see the beauty in the small things. Journal about any shifts you may have experienced in your mind, body, and your connection to your environment.
When we begin to commit to mind-body practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, dancing, painting, journaling, shamanic healing, and spending time in nature our thoughts begin to speak to us in new ways, our subconscious mind meets the conscious mind. Here, we begin to soften our grip on how we want to control every aspect of our lives. We may realize and radically accept the thoughts that once made us who we are don’t work for us anymore. We pay attention to present moment awareness, we train our eye and mind to see the beauty in the smallest things, we practice both visioning our future dreams and letting go all at once. We wake up to the possibility that we can heal through the power of mindfulness. And we empower ourselves that our thoughts and actions truly can create our reality.
Originally appeared on gaia.com.
Teaching yoga and meditation now for over a decade, Mara’s ability to hold healing space for the hearts and minds of others offers a vast landscape for transformation within. In her classes you can expect to be challenged and awakened through unique sequencing, articulate asana, grounding meditation, and enlivening pranayama practice. In her yoga teachings, Mara weaves together her background as a dance artist, her practice in the shamanic tradition, and her twenty years of experience on her mat – naturally what arises is a fluid, earthy, full bodied practice.