The most important words you will ever speak are the words you say to yourself. Marisa Peers
Remember when you were a little child where you felt careless and expected everyone to love and like you?
Remember when you were so proud of yourself taking your first steps even when you fell a million times. You always got up. You had no words to the outside world but already knew how to cheer yourself up at a very young age.
Our inner critic, that voice that keeps swirling in the back of our mind, results from years of conditioning.
The autopilot of negative thinking in the making
Between the ages of 0 and 7, our subconscious mind is accustomed to new beliefs and thinking patterns. We absorb what our parents, caregivers, and other people tell and show us. All the belief systems you have are tapes from your past, which you keep playing repeatedly. Why?
The subconscious mind is responsible for 95% of your habits, behavior, and ways of thinking. You have an average of 70,000 thoughts a day, and only 5 percent are new. Basically, 95% of the time, you are on autopilot.
I am not suggesting that you are doomed if you had a childhood filled drama, struggle, and negative influence.
Nor am I saying that you don’t suffer from negative thinking if you did have a happy childhood.
I am saying that you are an adult now, and you have the power to learn how to become a deliberate thinker. A conscious thinker chooses their thoughts instead of allowing the auto-pilot to go out of control.
Imagine you have a whole buffet in front of you with all kinds of delicious food. Yet you keep eating the plate that makes you vomit. No one in their right mind would intentionally inflict this kind of mental suffering, right?
But your autopilot and your tapes from the past keep telling you it is safe to eat toxic food because that is what is familiar to you. Your mind tricks you into believing that you may be in danger if you eat delicious food. It is unknown to the brain and thus represents a real danger.
So how do I change my thoughts, Nadja? I probably need years of therapy with all my childhood drama or past experiences in life.
I am not a therapist, nor am I here to tell people what to do. See my insights and advice as an inspiration, as there is a third way of healing yourself and becoming a deliberate thinker: start telling yourself new stories and make them familiar to your mind.
Practice a new way of speaking to yourself
I know what it’s like to eat the plate that makes you vomit over and over again. After two and a half decades of struggle, I decided that’s time to start giving a different meaning to my life.
There is no religion, culture, or opinion from someone else who will keep me from experiencing happiness, love, and ease in my life. At least as often as possible.
So how do I go about living life with more ease and flow?
I practiced how I speak to myself for a starter. You can do so many things to feel instant ecstasy of pleasant emotions. But as soon as the sensation is gone, you fall down the rabbit hole of negative thinking.
Start training yourself by telling a different narrative. It feels natural to second guess and doubt yourself as soon as you realize that you made a mistake. You may say words to yourself like:
“You are a complete failure; you never get anything right in life.”
“You are so stupid. Why did you think you had any intelligence in you?”
“You will never be good enough as they are. They have published authors, they speak so well and at so many conferences.”
“They have so many degrees and certificates. I barely survived university, and now I am struggling at work between all the peacocks and queen bees.”
Most people have a long list of vocabulary with disempowering statements and limiting beliefs. Remember the autopilot from your past!
Now you understand where it comes from. Let’s learn how to recondition your mind from your present state and into your future mindset.
And don’t worry, once you practice how to speak to yourself, easy peasy!
All it takes is 17 seconds
If you remember anything, remember that it only takes 17 seconds before one thought leads to the next one and the next one and the one after that.
For example, if you were told by a colleague or your manager hat your work is crap, your mind may go off on a negative spin. The first 17 seconds may sound like this in your mind:
“OMG, now my boss thinks I am stupid. I should have rechecked my work. How could I have missed this?”
The 17 seconds which follow may sound like this in your mind :
“I am a complete idiot and a failure.”
“John is so much better at this than I am.”
“I will never advance in my job, and I can kiss that promotion goodbye.
“I am such a loser and a nobody.”
You see how this is counterproductive and only reinforces your autopilot of negative thinking.
Instead, train yourself to become aware of your thoughts and make it fun along the process.
The alternative scenario can go like this:
“Oh, you silly billy, you are doing that thing again where you judge yourself.”
“Sure, you screwed up, who doesn’t!”
“Oh well, now you can take more time to not only correct your mistakes but make it even more epic.”
So then when your co-worker or manager are actually happy you made a mistake because the quality is so much higher, than you can tap yourself on the back!
And in addition you learned from your mistakes that next time you should plan better and take the time to ask someone else to look at your work with fresh eyes.
Remember that you are not your thoughts. Reframing your thoughts and perceptions is critical to train your mind in becoming a deliberate thinker.
Become aware of your old thinking patterns and stories. Call yourself out in a funny way, so your brain does not take it seriously. Humor is critical for the mind so it can release more of the happy hormones (serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin) instead of perpetuating the cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. Stress is healthy in moderation!
It helps to send signals to your brain that you are not in danger, so the unpleasant emotions in your body start to dissipate.
You will feel more grounded and secure within yourself instead of being in a state of survival mode with your blood rushing through your veins and skyrocketing anxiety levels.
Practice this new way of awareness and reframing your thoughts for the next 30 days and see what happens.
And remember, don’t beat yourself up when you eat from the plate that makes you vomit. Just tell yourself that you needed a reminder of the bad taste so you can enjoy the delicious food again.