CHAPTER LI – Challenge Your Thoughts and Change your Life
I am Jude. According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive.
That blows my mind.
It means that we are being inundated with a continuous stream of repetitive memories, feelings and judgements
And not only that, 80% of these thoughts are negative. Let that sink in.
Over time, deep neural pathways are formed, which eventually results in unconscious thinking.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapists have a term for it — ANT (Automatic Negative Thoughts).
What are ANTs? Here are some examples:
- Fortune telling, or forecasting the future which consists of statements like ‘this will never work’. Sound familiar?
- Black and white thinking or using extreme words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ which are absolutes. Life is generally grey.
- Reading people’s minds and making assumptions about their perceived thoughts or intentions. We are wrong more often than we are right.
- The guilt and shame associated with ‘should haves’ and ‘could haves’. Replace them with statements that don’t create resentment, disappointment and guilt.
- The use of harmful labels such as fat, lazy, stupid, or loser when describing yourself and others. They never serve any constructive purpose.
If we understand that we have ANTs predominating our minds and directing our actions, how can we begin creating more positive ones?
Here’s some suggestions that may help:
Write it Down
Start capturing all of your negative thoughts in your phone or journal. Then beside every negative thought write a related positive experience.
For instance, if you fear failure, write about a time when falling short helped you to learn a lesson or if you resent your job, note how it serves others.
Challenging deeply entrenched thinking patterns requires awareness and intention.
However, once it is adopted as an ongoing act it allows you to begin substituting positive thoughts whenever negative ones arise.
At least that’s what I’m led to believe.
I am very much a work in progress. I may be more aware of my fears, emotional insecurities and self-defeating thinking but believe me, this is a daily struggle.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”Lao Tzu
Be a Truth Seeker
What we experience is filtered through our individual perceptions, beliefs and understanding of the world. Unfortunately, more times than not – we misinterpret, misjudge and get the facts wrong.
Whenever you recognize an ANT, ask yourself:
Is this thought true?
How does this negative and self-defeating thought serve me?
Is there another way of looking at things?
What advice would you give to a friend who had this habitual thought?
Separate the facts from fiction and replace negativity with affirmations and self-encouragement.
Acknowledge your accomplishments and celebrate the truth of your unique greatness.
“Wage war against the weaker thoughts that have crept into the palace of your mind. They will see that they are unwanted and leave like unwelcome visitors.”Robin Sharma
Meditation is an ancient practice that helps quiet your mind and manage self-destructive thinking patterns.
There is also new research that meditation and mindfulness reduce the subjective experience of intrusive thoughts in our heads.
It teaches you to recognize ANTs and allow them to pass by while remaining peaceful and emotionally detached.
Meditation creates space to explore clarity and perspective. It encourages mindfulness and gratitude. And these powerful attributes have the ability to displace ANTs.
Simply put, find time to clear your mind.
Your brain has evolved to create predominantly negative thoughts for a good reason — to keep you safe.
However, in most instances, Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) no longer serve us.
Accordingly, we have to become more aware of our problem thinking. It only ever hurts us. Instead we need to develop strategies that limit destructive self-talk and promote mental wellness.
So stand guard at the door of your mind.
Confront negative self-talk, practice gratitude and focus on all of the beauty and bounty in the world. It will change your life.
Side Hustle – Unshackled Solutions Life Coaching and Consulting
Are you frustrated with your current circumstances?
Do you want more?
What could you accomplish if you had more encouragement, support and perseverance?
I believe that we all possess the power to change. Sometimes we simply need more motivation, a higher level of accountability or a slight shift in our thinking.
That’s where I can assist.
Let me help you confront the negative thoughts and behaviours that are limiting your growth and development.
If you are interested in finding out more about life coaching or exploring what working with me would look like, please contact me directly at email@example.com to schedule a discovery call.
The Benefits of Life Coaching
Your Next Best Read – The Shack
What would it be like to communicate with the Creator? How would they reveal themselves to us and what would they say?
The Shack is a ‘best-selling’ novel by Canadian author William P. Young that attempts to answer those unanswerable questions.
It has a compelling storyline and imaginative personifications of the Holy Trinity.
A man’s young daughter is abducted. Evidence is found in a remote cabin that she was brutally murdered.
Four years later, her father receives a note from “God” inviting him back to The Shack.
The book wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”
I’ve had this book for years. Now I realize it has been sitting on my bookshelf patiently waiting for me until I was ready.
It was given to me by one of my favorite people and came highly recommended but I could never bring myself to read it.
I knew it was grounded in Christian doctrine and I wasn’t ready for all that.
I have some fundamental issues with traditional Western theology and organized religion.
Alternatively, I possess a broader and more fluid understanding of spirituality. One which is internally focused and seems to be more aligned with Eastern philosophy.
However, I am glad I read this book.
I got lost in the search for Missy, and I could identify with the despair and search for meaning after losing someone important to you.
I would highly recommend it to anyone dealing with loss or exploring their connection to the Source and I encourage everyone to read it if you already haven’t.
Positive Reflections – What’s Good?
Have you ever heard of Pearson’s Law?
It might be something you want to consider before setting your next goal.
It’s generally considered a business principle. However, it has universal applications and can be utilized anytime we are seeking appreciable change.
Pearson’s law states that, when performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.
Simply put, if you measure your progress and create accountability, your results will improve dramatically.
It is the ‘M’ in the SMART acronym for goal setting.
“What is measured, improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.”Karl Pearson
Pearson’s statement about performance has proven to be true for over 100 years. It is particularly effective because it combines tracking and accountability to maximize improvement.
So the next time you are identifying a goal, consider the magic of Pearson’s Law.
Establish some clearly defined metrics, measure your progress and report your results back to someone who will hold you accountable – that’s it!
It’s a simple process but you will be surprised by the outcome
The Nova Scotia Brotherhood is currently organizing the 4th Annual Black Men’s Health Conference on November 19th, 2022. I can’t believe this will be our fourth event.
This year’s event will be held at the NSCC Akerley Campus at 21 Woodlawn Ave in Dartmouth, NS.
The conference will feature small group presentations, a range of relevant topics and a plenary session with a dynamic featured speaker.
SAVE THE DATE AND STAY TUNED
Lunch will be provided.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Black Men’s Wellness Group – Rescheduled Date!
Due to the storm last week, the Black Men’s Wellness Group was postponed until this upcoming Saturday, October 1st at 1pm.
Our first monthly meeting since the summer break will be held in the Unity Room at the Colchester Library.
The purpose of the group is simple: to connect Black men in a safe space, engage in some meaningful discussion and explore ways to live better.
Most brothers leave feeling a little better than when they came. The atmosphere is relaxed and there is no expectation to participate. Just being is enough.
Anyone identifying as a Black man is invited to attend. Come out, connect and contribute to the conversation. Also join our Facebook group – Community Strong
Make the commitment to attend. Invest in your mental wellness and personal development. It’s well worth it. I am Jude.