We’re all addicted to something. Alcohol, sugar, smoking, shopping, coffee, gossip, overeating. Whether your addiction is life-threatening or just an annoying behavior you want to kick, they are all a result of habitual thinking and actions. If we do something or think something every single day for twenty years, our body and brain is going to insist we keep doing it. That’s just basic brain science. Try changing a habit, and notice how your brain will have a hissy-fit.
If you had of told me years ago that the habit of thinking negatively was life threatening and life altering, I would never have believed you. But take it from me — a seasoned life coach, and someone who has read hundreds of books on how to think positively — negative thinking is one of the most complicated and insidious addictions.
But the benefits of kicking this habit, are truly life-altering.
How we usually think and feel about anything gets formed from a very early age, and so by the time we’re in our thirties, the mindset we end up with is fully formed. And so we’re left with thirty years of familiar thought patterns to change or not change. So, you can imagine how difficult it is to change a mindset when you’re in your fifties or sixties.
If you’re like me, you may have had the experience of reading or hearing something that inspires you to want to change your mindset. You’re ready to show up in the world in a new way; you swear that the old you will never come back. A page has been turned. And just for a brief shining moment, you feel enlightened. You have a KNOWING of what’s good and true for you. But then literally five minutes later, the old you comes back spewing out a bucket full of those old, familiar negative thought patterns. This happens to me all the time.
Trying to “clean out” and change myself, can sometimes feel as if I’m trying to wash coal. It’s a frustrating process that requires focus, diligence, and persistent persistence, and I sometimes wonder if I’m ever really breaking the habit of being my old negative self.
But I am. And here’s how I know why.
In the past, I would have become so entangled in my web of negative drama, and it would have taken me days, weeks, and months to snap out of it. One negative thought would lead to another and another, and I’d find myself spiraling down into some pretty low places. I was convinced that what I was thinking was really happening.
But what I’ve noticed now, is that when my old familiar negative dialogues come up, there’s a part of me that can step to one side and watch it play out. In other words, I have a sense that it’s just my mind wanting to play its old tapes. But if I watch and listen with curiosity, the negativity begins to peter-out. The dialogue becomes a monologue. I’m now beginning to see myself as separate from the voices in my head.
This is such an amazing distinction. Do you get it?
From what I’ve read about the brain, this is an example of old neuro pathways in my brain petering-out. If I no longer feed it or engage in it, those patterns burn out. It’s hard to have an argument or discussion when there’s no-one there to listen.
So, why would we want to create a new mindset? Why would we want to shake-off those old patterns of thinking? Why is it so important to say goodbye to the old negative you?
Because when we can master the way we think about everything, we access the power to create the life we want.
If you’re looking for something that is truly life-altering and trans formative — it you’re really interested in changing the trajectory of your life — keep washing that darn coal. Keep noticing how insistent and persistent those old thought patterns want to be heard. Stand back and watch it play out. Turn you dialogue into a monologue. Keep doing the work.
It’s worth it.