5 ways to weed out self-destructive thought patterns and begin living to your potential: I’m a prime example of the very syndrome I want to describe to you- the chronic condition of ‘ineffective thinking’. When I need to ‘get creative’, the brakes go on. My head fills with unrealistic, self-limiting thoughts that question my ability, and suddenly…cleaning out the closet is a far more attractive activity. Old, habitual, mental programming leads me directly down the garden path to stalling, inactivity, and lack of progress.
Procrastination is only one example of the many ways in which our thinking gets in our way. There are a zillion possible self-destructive thought habits plaguing any one of us: “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t”, “I’m not lovable”, “I shouldn’t”, “I’m not smart enough”, “I’m not attractive enough”, “I’m afraid to”. These personal myths have their origins in our childhood but they lack in truth, and sadly over the years, become engrained in our minds as our personal belief system and default mode… until, we learn to shift them.
It’s a fact- these personal myths CAN be transformed, starting with a willingness to become uber self-aware. We are so used to our habitual thinking that we don’t even notice which thought patterns are working for us and which are working against us. Examining our thinking allows us to take the necessary steps to weed out the troublemakers. We need to ask: In what areas of our life are we feeling anxious, stuck, or uncomfortable? What are the accompanying beliefs? Are they realistic or unfounded and hypothetical?
The reason that self-awareness & identification of bogus thinking works, is that once exposed as fraudulent, its hold on us weakens, and we can begin the work to transform it. Replacing the negativity with possibility and positivity creates space for a sense of freedom, openness, hope, and inspiration. Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel as you begin living with a new sense of purpose, and heightened potential.
Five tips for transforming your self-limiting myths into new, positive thought habits:
- Become ‘thought-aware’:
Critically observe your thinking. A lifetime of experience has methodically programmed your thought patterns and some of them serve you well, while others don’t. Invite your wise, inner self to hover on your shoulder for a few days to observe & listen. Be open and honest with yourself. Get to the core of your restrictive beliefs and personal fears- we all have them. What thoughts are preventing you from moving you toward the person you really want to be?
- Identify & Acknowledge:
Which of your thought patterns are negative, self-limiting, judgmental, or defensive? These will be the thoughts that are, as we say, ‘messing with your life’, because literally, what you think often enough is what you’ll experience. Fleeting, odd thoughts aren’t in danger of taking hold, but those that you’ve repeated over and over to yourself for years, will be shaping your reality. Like it or not they are a part of you, so don’t deny them, just decide to make fresh choices. Ask the troublemakers to take a seat at the back of the auditorium for a bit.
- Transform your thinking:
This step is your event horizon, where important change takes shape. Make note of each ineffective thought pattern identified above and work to shift it to something positive and constructive. Ensure that you make the strategic thought selections that will produce the feel-good, rewarding outcomes that you’re looking for. (Example: “I can’t” could become “I will, watch me!”) Mentally rehearse your new thinking over and over again as an affirmation of your new attitude on each topic.
- Live it:
When the occasion arrives, enact what you’ve rehearsed. Instead of the old belief system holding you back, your new thought-choice will immerse you in a brand new, more self-fulfilling experience.
- Practice and Persevere:
Shifting thought patterns that have been with you for a lifetime will require a strong will, continual experimentation and persistence, but the change WILL happen in time. Making the effort will start you on the path to living a life of full expression and move you toward achieving the potential that you see for yourself. Enjoy!
Written by: Muffy Churches.
Muffy Churches is the author of Coach Yourself, A 7-Step Guide to Personal Fulfilment (Love & Write Publishing). She is an internationally recognised integrative coach-therapist. Born in the US and settled in Sydney, she works as executive coach, leadership trainer, speaker, author, and counsellor. She has extensive experience in inspiring and initiating positive behavioural change in clients around the world.