Here is a simple, five step process to recognizing and breaking negative thought patterns:
1. Catch yourself in the act.
Most people don’t even recognize when they are having a negative thought, because it is so ingrained they don’t even perceive it as “negative”. They see it as Truth. As reality. Most people also erroneously assume that other people would have the same thought/reaction if faced with a similar stimuli or circumstance. For example, take the thought, “This traffic is so terrible. I am wasting so much time. I can’t believe I have to deal with this.”
While it may seem logical and true, this thought creates a stress response in the body. The basis of this thought is, “I have been put into an unpleasant circumstance that I cannot control. I will attempt to fight back by reacting negatively and with resistance.” Feel the emotional space of helplessness and anger that this thought places you in. If you hold this negative emotion strongly enough, and for long enough, you will find yourself in many, many other circumstances where you feel helpless and out of control, because Law of Attraction naturally continues to draw to you what you are most dominantly feeling. That’s why it is so important to catch yourself in a chronic, negative underlying thought pattern.
2. Recognize that you are thinking the thought; the thought is not thinking you.
This gives you some immediate relief as you realize that you are thinker of this thought – it did not just think you (although sometimes it seems as if our thoughts are thinking us). This also almost instantly diffuses the negative energy associated with thought because as you shine a spotlight on it, it loses its power. As you begin to observe your thoughts, you gain a more objective, detached perspective that helps you assess the situation more rationally.
In the example above, you may say to yourself, “I may not be able to control the traffic, but I can control how I feel. I recognize that this thought is not serving me, and I choose to not allow it to overwhelm me.”
3. Consciously release the negative energy or emotion associated with the thought.
As you release the negative emotion and tension associated with the negative thought, it has less of a negative influence on your vibrational frequency. This is an extremely important step. Remember, this is not some intellectual exercise of seeing the glass half full. You are trying to consciously change your thoughts and emotions to change your vibrational frequency and energy pattern. Releasing negative emotion at its core releases resistance so that you begin to attract more positive energy automatically.
What are the underlying emotions of being irritated in traffic, for example? Lack of control, helplessness, anger, frustration – to name a few. Are there other aspects of your life in which you feel this way? Chances are, one of these emotions might be a chronic negative emotional pattern for you. This is when you begin to see that it has nothing to do with the traffic. It never did. The traffic is just a consequence, a mirror, to what you are already feeling and vibrating. This is a powerful realization.
4. Replace the negative thought, with a more positive (but believable) one.
For this concrete example, you might say to yourself, “Well the traffic is bad, and I would rather not be here, but maybe I can use this time to take in some deep breaths and relax. Maybe I can listen to a nice song or program on the radio.” Anything can be a meditative experience, if you will let it be. Releasing resistance and negative energy is all about accepting the moment as it is, rather than fighting it. The key here is to begin to soothe yourself by telling yourself things that you can actually sort of believe – otherwise the exercise will seem disingenuous and forced.
5. Feel the positive energy or emotion associated with the new thought and then place conscious focus and attention on it for as long as possible.
This is the last and most important step. Focusing on the positive emotion and feelings of the new thought is what allows a new energy pattern to replace the old one. Your new thought might have made you feel more relaxed, less stressed, less anxious. You are now in a completely different emotional and vibrational place than you were a few minutes ago.
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Dr. Kulkarni is a New York City based physician, spiritual author, and personal coach. Find her @Dr_Kulkarni or visit www.leveragingthought.com to learn more.