As I teach, mentor and coach my clients, I’ve discovered that many folks need extra help dealing with their negative thinking patterns. Even people who consider themselves optimists sometimes find themselves sucked into negative thinking patterns. For instance, some of the most positive people I know have rather negative thought patterns about money. Those patterns tell them that good people can’t earn a decent living, that financial struggle is a necessary part of life, that only cheats and crooks get away with making money. If I was money, I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a person who thought that way about me!
What I’ve also discovered is that all un-challenged thoughts eventually take root in our bodies as feelings. Eventually, we don’t bother thinking the whole thought, we just have the feeling in our body and know what it means. Every thought we allow to enter our mind and set up shop is contributing to our experiences. When it comes to negative/challenging thoughts, this is a BIG problem. Long-term negative thinking patterns cause the body to habitually release related chemicals/hormones that can begin causing physical challenges that morph into full-blown dis-ease.
Therefore, it’s really important to check in with yourself and notice how you feel throughout each day. When you begin feeling tired or negatively, notice what you have been thinking about prior to the onset. Determine what thoughts took you from feeling good to not feeling good. Then, begin to ask yourself whether these thoughts are really true.
Byron Katie (known as Katie), author of Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, has developed a process she refers to as “The Work”. The work is known as an “inquiry” process: Once you identify a thought that upsets you (anger, fear, sadness, worry, etc.), you open yourself to honestly answer these questions:
1. Is *this thought* true? (If no, this realization usually stops the thought. Either way, continue on…)
2. Can I absolutely be sure *this thought* is true? (Either yes or no, continue on…)
3. How do I react when I think *this thought*? How does it affect me? (consider what this thought is doing to you and your life)
4. Who would I be without *this thought*? (how would life feel if I let go of this thought and chose a different one that felt better)
Then, do a turnaround: What is the opposite of *this thought*? The truth is usually that we were inflicting the pain on ourselves, not the other way around.
It is amazing how quickly this process helps us identify and become clear in our thinking. Once you do it, you’ll realize how powerful these four questions can be in helping you to quickly release thoughts that are no longer serving you! To learn more, and watch any of the 12 videos of Katie walking people through The Work on her site: TheWork.com.