Photo Credit: Harry Parker

Our negative thoughts are funny things.

We think strong, powerful, convincing thoughts. We feel committed when we think them or say them.

“I am going to exercise for real this time. Just like I was in my 20’s.”

“This year, I am going to earn more money. ”

“Enough being a coach potato. I am going out and living life!”

Yet a month or two passes, we find ourselves no further along in our progress.

We consciously think we know what we want. We say we want it. We say we are committed to what we want.

The results, however, say we want something else more.

Are you safe from your negative thoughts?

They are at the root of your self-sabotage. Often at the root of failures.

There are three elements to be aware when combating our negative thoughts: our emotions, our image, and our why.

For every thought we have, we have a mental image to go along with it, and emotions that go along with that. We are often not even aware of the image. It happens beyond our conscious awareness.

When you give brain a command with an image, it sets about to achieve it.

Many times, however, there is a disconnect between what we say we want and the image that goes along with it.

Conjure the image comes to mind and the emotions that bubble up when you think, “This time I am going to lose weight,” “This time I am going to have a relationship that is happy,”  “This time I am going to make more money.”

More likely than not, the emotions and images that come to mind are about your current condition, past failures, or embarrassments. Not only do your thoughts quickly deteriorate to negative thoughts.

Your thoughts, image, emotions, and even your why focus on what you don’t want to happen.  What you don’t want to repeat.

But repeat you shall.

Your brain, when presented with two conflicting commands, will follow the image.

There is more though, and that’s the why behind the image. Why do we stay unhappy, in bad relationships, overweight, unhealthy, or poor?

Often there is a subconscious want under that conscious want that has its roots in the past. It fosters a motivation so strong that it lays subterfuge to our stated intention.  

It is so much a part of our self-identification that we are often unconscious to its presence.  

It is the powerhouse behind our motivation to be what we think we don’t want — overweight, in debt, poor, in bad relationships — over and over again.

How Do We Change Our Thoughts, Our Image, Our Why?

Life teaches us through experiences – what feels good and what doesn’t; what we like and what we don’t; what we want to experience and what we never want to experience again.  

Put your hand in a flame.  Your mind screams at you, “never do that again,” and you don’t.  It’s easy enough to avoid, never do again.

Knowing what not to do does not tell us why to do or how to do it

A student may know he never wants to fail a test again without knowing how to pass the next one that comes along. 

A lover may know that she never want to feel used again without knowing how to feel valued. 

An entrepreneur may know that he never wants to unintentionally work for free again without knowing how to get paid.  

In each case, the player needs motivation and insight in order to change their behavior.

Motivation without awareness, strategies,accountability is worthless when it comes to making lasting change.

It is essential to understand:

  • how the dysfunction served you (the old why)
  • what you risk by changing your behavior
  • identifying a new why
  • imagine, write, draw, describe with detail your life with the new achievement, function
  • Identify strengths in your life that you can apply to achieving this goal
  • Research to understand how to achieve your goal, develop strategies to achieve it, seek help to stay accountable to your goals

Visualize Your Desired Reality

Visualization alone won’t change your life. But knowing how to visualize your desired reality is an important part of changing your actual reality.

In one research study, it was found that basketball players who visualized their perfect free throw over and over again out-performed basketball players who did nothing and basketball players who actually practiced their free throws.

Visualize what you do want in order to eliminate what you don’t want.  When you tell yourself what you want, your brain immediately visualizes it, and begins moving toward the objective.  The brain cannot visualize a negative. 

Try visualizing ‘not jumping rope.’  It is impossible.  You will visualize jumping rope and then, perhaps, wonder what the person who is not jumping rope is doing.  When a student says, “I never want to fail a test again,” the brain necessarily visualizes taking a test in the same old way – and failing it. 

Visualizing passing a test is a very different process.  Now the person has to think about how he will go about doing it and what that would ‘look’ like.  The process is no longer emotionally reactive. 

It is pro-active and solution-oriented.  There is integrity and insight.

It is the intersection where Change meets Your Life.