Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Controlling Negative Thoughts

Can we ever experience only positive thoughts? Maybe. Better ask the Dalai Lama.

You may already know that recurring negative thought patterns [e.g. 'I am so unlucky to have this illness / I am fat / I am hopeless at presentations / I am not good enough...'] cause anxiety because the mind does not distinguish between what we think and what is real.

This generated anxiety causes us to lose intellectual control [your adult age basically] and the uncounscious / sub-conscious / emotional mind takes over.

According to experts this emotional mind has the intellectual age of a 7 year old. Recognise this at all?

Primative Responses

The emotional mind always responds with 3 primitive response patterns that we have inherited from our ancestors - anxiety, anger or depression.

The symptoms can be anything and are unwanted such as not sleeping properly, being stressed and not wanting to go out of the house.

Often symtoms involve us self-medicating and putting something in our mouths such as too much food, drink or cigarettes. Negative thinking is therefore dangerous.

The key then seems to be to think positive thoughts.

Whilst running an executive coaching session today, a client asked what it is like to only experience positive thoughts.

My reply was 'I don't know' because I do experience negative thoughts.

Catch, Challenge, Change

The difference is that I get less because my sub-conscious 'child' knows that the route for negative thoughts is 'catch, challenge, change'.

I explained to the client that this simple technique would help her to experience less negative and more positive thoughts.

The client asked for the fomula which I explained as follows:
  1. Catch the negative thought e.g. 'I am going to do a bad job of presenting on Friday'.
  2. Challenge the negative thought by asking 'Is this helpful?' - The answer is always 'No'.
  3. Change the thought to something  more postive e.g. 'I will prepare well on Thursday afternoon and do a dummy run with a friendly colleague. On Friday I will take some deep breaths and focus on my audience.'

This process helps us to get back into intellectual conscious control. It calms us and stops us from becoming too emotional and losing control.

Over time the unconscious emotional childish mind gradually reduces the amount of 'tantrums' it has and we feel more positive and more in control.

Please let feel free to pass on your comments on this blog? Has it inspired you at all?

Alternatively, please take the opportunity to visit my website West of England Coaching and Counselling as I am passionate about improving lives using our mind and would love to hear from you.

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