What are your fears, anxieties and bad habits and where do they come from? Have you ever wondered why you can't prevent yourself from having negative or irrational thoughts or get to grips with what actually causes them?
Whether it's the world's number one fear, public speaking, an anxiety in group situations or a lack of confidence in relationships, irrational thoughts are beliefs that we hold and conclusions that we reach that are in no way founded in knowledge or reality. Judging a book by it’s cover is a prime example of this. How often do we still judge people on looks alone?
If you suffer from self-limiting thoughts and emotions, you may find that they are reinforced by your own negative and irrational internal commentary. Ask yourself whether you would talk to a friend in the same way that you talk to yourself? Probably not. Often this self-doubting monologue can be traced back to a a handful of experiences from the past that have resulted in a distorted view of the world.
WOULD YOU TALK TO A FRIEND IN THE SAME WAY THAT YOU TALK TO YOURSELF?
Unfortunately our minds are easily drawn to focussing on the negative and often the impact of a single, insignificant experience may become overblown in terms of its real importance over time. It's then easy to be defined and limited by false messages, as we lose a balanced picture and perspective of the world as it really is.
Have you ever found yourself dwelling on the 1% 'constructive feedback' received in an appraisal, rather than the 99% praise? Over many thousands of years, the brain has evolved to find it so much easier to focus on threats and dwell on the negative than the positive. But you don't have to be defined by those messages.
EVER FOUND YOURSELF DWELLING ON THE 1% CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK RATHER THAN 99% PRAISE?
New memories are created through the association of feelings, emotions and thoughts with experiences, people and places. This enables us to build meaningful connections and relationships. However, it is also gives us the ability to develop negative associations that create fears, anxieties and bad habits.
The good news is that the brain is rewriting these associations all the time. Known as neuroplasticity, this means that the brain has the ability to change these pathways. It can essentially be rewired.
But how do you go about rewiring your brain? You can make a start by doing the following:
STEP 1 - RECOGNISE & ACKNOWLEDGE
Recognise irrational and negative thoughts when they arise. Acknowledge them as false and group or name thoughts that are on a similar theme or follow a pattern. For example, it may be that you have irrational or negative thoughts about a particular person or situation at work. By giving those thoughts a name or label it makes it easier to recognise the gremlins when they arise.
STEP 2 - SEPARATE & COMPARTMENTALISE
Next, separate and compartmentalise the irrational and negative thoughts. Think of yourself as doing some mental filing. Having recognised, acknowledged and labelled the thoughts, now put them to one side. This creates space for you to focus on the more positive aspects of life.
STEP 3 - ADJUST
One of the most effective ways to rewire our brains is to get into the habit of focussing on positive rather than negative thoughts. This takes practice, but can be as simple as trying to find something positive to appreciate about any given situation. Spending 5 minutes a day writing a journal that lists a few things to be grateful for can also be a simple but powerful tool for maintaining focus on the positive rather than negative.
STEP 4 - BALANCE
Remember that internal commentary that I mentioned earlier? Well it's time to redefine it, so that it reflects the tone and language voice that you would like to hear. Perhaps it's happy, friendly, assertive and confident. Identifying, naming and regularly checking in with your positive inner voice can be highly effective in counterbalancing the negative, irrational thoughts to which we are all so prone.
If you want to do more in order to adopt a positive mindset and overcome irrational fears, then working with a professional coach could be a next step. Why not book yourself in for a FREE Coaching Consultation.