How to Change Old Patterns of Thinking

If you can't change your thinking, you can't change yourself

You are what you think.
You are what you think. | Source

Change The Way You Think?

How do you change the way you think? The majority of the population thinks that it just happens. Rarely, do we look at the process and how the mechanism works. You are only limited to what you can envision and accomplish by what you think. What you believe, feel, perceive, imagine, or achieve is based on your thinking. To gain a good understanding you must start with the statement, "You are what you think." This is a truism of life.

Making positive changes to your thinking process that last over time is not easy. Everyone is programmed, positively or negatively, throughout their life starting from the day they are born. Those patterns are engrained after years of practice. Dysfunctional behavior and feelings caused by old thinking patterns result in unsatisfying relationships in the way one performs with self, career, esteem, others, and health. What is programmed into your mind effects how you think, feel or behave in life when you interact with life events.

But after analyzing decades of clinical research and case studies, I have discovered there are a few simple things you can do to snap the cycle of old thinking. So let’s see what we can do to change.


Power Over Thinking

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Think you are locked out of changing your thoughts?

Empower Your Mind. It is all up to you!
Empower Your Mind. It is all up to you! | Source

8 Ways to Change Your Thinking Pattern

Here is an assignment to help you to identify and then begin to change your pattern of thinking.

Recognition

In order to change your old patterns of thinking you first have to recognize what your thinking patterns are. They are a collection of your thoughts, if you think about it, and they are embedded or filed in your mind under specific life areas. In order to clearly see the pattern of your thoughts you have to put them down on paper. So to gain some visual structure to this assignment, lay out a piece of paper in front of you and on the left side of the paper write down these eight areas.

1. Relationships with self

2. Relationships with others

3. Career

4. Finances

5. Worth

6. Health

7. Body Image

8. Spirituality

Make sure there is space to write under each life area, so you can write down all the thoughts that correspond to each area. Below is an example:

Relationship with self – “I am not intelligent.”

“I am smart.”

“I do not like me”, etc,

Worth – “I am not worthy.”

“I am bad.”

“I am will never be successful.” etc.

After you have completely filled in each life area, study all the thoughts you have written down Now that you have gone this far, answer the following question.

Is your pattern of thinking positive or negative?

Now that you have established what your thinking pattern is, you have to identify where the embedded thought came from. Not all your thoughts originated from your own creation. Growing up your mind accepts thoughts from others sources all the time. Next to each thought, mark down where it originated such as; self, parents, family (sister, brother, uncle, aunt, etc.), authority figure, teacher, mentor or religious figure.

Such as:

Relationship with self – “I am not intelligent.” – Brother Tommy

“I am smart.” – 3rd Grade teacher – Mrs. Jones

“I do not like me.” - Me

Then review your completed list and determine whether your thoughts come from self statements or from others in your life. Identify which thoughts are beneficial and which are destructive.

Example:

Relationship with self – “I am not intelligent.” – Brother Tommy – Others/Destructive

“I am smart.” – 3rd Grade teacher – Mrs. Jones–Others/Destructive

“I do not like me.” – Me- Self statement/ Beneficial



3 Positive Thoughts to Live By

Thought Shifting

Be mindful of your thoughts
Be mindful of your thoughts | Source

Positive Tips to changing Thought Patterns

Restructure Your Thought Patterns

Set the aforementioned paper aside and get a new piece of paper. On the new piece of paper write down the same 8 life areas in a column on the left side of the paper. This time create new specific thoughts that you want in each life area. Remember vague and general thoughts are doomed. When your brain is given vague and general statements, it does not understand and it will get confused, become paralyzed, not accept the new thoughts and return to the old familiar pattern. So, be specific.

Embedding Your New A New Thought Pattern

How do I get my brain to accept my new thoughts? Embedding your new thought list is accomplished through action. This action is done through focused practice. First create a list of new thoughts you want to embed into your subconscious chain of thoughts.Call this new list of positive thoughts - Positive Life Affirmations or PLA. Examples of a few possible powerful PLAs you can put on your list are - I am happy, I am healthy, I am prosperous, I am whole and I am productive - to name a few. Add statements of positiveness you would like to be front and center in your conscious stream of thoughts.

Then set up a daily schedule on your calendar. Commit to a time (morning, afternoon, after dinner or before bedtime) for thirty (30) days. During each daily scheduled time, read your list 4 times in a row with emotion. The most important one is just before you go to sleep. Why? The your subconscious mind will percolate on this the whole time you sleep and in the morning when you wake up your subconscious mind will look to manifest that list in your life.

There are two keys to embedding new thoughts into your subconscious:

#1 Practice, practice and practice your list some more. The more you repeat your positive life affirmation list the quicker the new thoughts will embed.

Understand that repetition by someone else or self-repeating is how the old negative thoughts got into your subconscious mind originally. So through practice, the new thoughts will be accepted. Let’s look at an athlete who wants to win gold and become an Olympic Level athlete. The way to reach this goal is by practicing their skills over and over again until they can perform the skills without thinking.

#2 Being emotionally attached to old negative thoughts or excited emotionally by the negative thoughts is how the diluted thoughts embedded themselves in the first place.

A stranger can say whatever about you to you and your subconscious mind rejects it. But the smallest criticism from someone you are emotionally attached to hurts to your core.

So make your list (no more than 10 positive life affirmations), repeat them on scheduled times and feel them as you repeat them and they will stay with you.

Make a Firm Commitment

The hardest part of pulling off change is getting started, keeping your motivation and following through consistently. To conquer your resistance, make a firm commitment to yourself to change. Set a daily schedule with specific times when you will practice your list. Do not project forward, only focus on practicing one day at a time.

Do not think about how many days you will have to practice. It is easier to conquer daily mile markers, than anticipate the whole journey.

The more you follow through with your commitment to self and carry out your schedule the less reluctant you will become and the less resistance you will face.

Make Your Environment Support Your Change

Many of us are blind to the reminders of our old ways of thinking that exist around us. Unconsciously reminders shape our behavior and trigger us to think in old predictable patterns. Reacting to old patterns can cause us to self-sabotage. Make sure that you take out reminders of the past and replace them with supporting associations of a new beginning.

Just remember: Change isn't an event: it is a process.

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Comments 39 comments

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

Is it really possible to change your imbedded thoughts about yourself like this? This may result in a feeling of superiority, don't you think so? Of course one should eliminate 'false' ideas of self caused by ignorant parents and teachers, but would the active achievement of goals, or some positive experiences, not automatically change the negative pattern?


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Yes it is possible with consistent practice and commitment. It does not result in a thinking or feeling of superiority, just confidence. I have used this with survivors of servere abuse and trauma as well as veterans from war, and all have been successful when they completely followed throu. Good things rewarded and accepted when one works hard for themselves and believes.


sanely54 profile image

sanely54 6 years ago

I am one who is a believer in changing my thoughts and the horrid thoughts abusers gave to me. I can now say I love myself and I am a wonderful person. It took about 4 years but Dr Bill Tollefson is so right. thanks Linda


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Thank you for your comments. Do not fear your own thoughts. If you work with your thoughts, they will work with you and change. All it takes is recognition and consistency.


Pat 6 years ago

I went through a program that Dr. Bill had in Ft. Lauderdale a few years ago and he changed my life. You CAN truly change your thought patterns. It is very hard work, but is well worth your time.

I learned to love myself for the first time in years as well as how to manage my thoughts when it comes to my abusers values, etc.

Through a lot of hard work, allowing myself to feel, being able to safely express my feelings, etc. I was able to take my life back into my own hands.


sanely54 profile image

sanely54 6 years ago

Hi Dr Bill

This was so hard for me to do but with your help I have done but continue everyday to work on loving myself. After almost 20 yrs of being disablied I am now working full time in Kansas. I miss you!


dante kelly profile image

dante kelly 6 years ago

I'm no doctor but I do have life experience,true my thought have caused me to do many things I knew to be wrong.I'd go to treatments for addictions and I'd hear you have to change how you see yourself and the world around you.For me it didn't work like that,I had to start living myself into a new way of thiking,I couldn't think my way into a new way of thinking.I make conscious choices to do the next right thing every day.Even though those old thoughts come I just don't act on them.It take work...


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

You are correct. While you are correcting your thinking or programming, one has to put the new thinking into behavior. I call that developing an Action plan. Thank you for your comment. I am sure many people who read this will learn that a person has to "do" as well as “think” anew.


ItsThatSimple profile image

ItsThatSimple 6 years ago from Florida

Some people call this method positive self talk. I agree with the principle of talking to ourselves and building ourselves up with positivity rather than being critical of ourselves.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

There are many different methods and this is just one of them. I tested and used this method with survivors of repetitive abuse and traumatic life events for over 14 years with great success. Thank you taking the time to read my article.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

I like how this is written - in a way that makes it easy to do! I'm due for a maintenance examen on cognitions that have "slipped in" undetected in the past few years. I think after I do my my own, I may use it for a group. The book/DVD looks interesting too. Thanks for sharing Dr. Bill.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 5 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Negative thoughts are generally triggered unconsciously in course of our daily lives in the form of root beliefs and programming. Rooted beliefs and programming disempower you and run in the background of your mind. The great thing is it is possible to shift these so that the negative thoughts no longer affect you any longer.


Urska profile image

Urska 5 years ago from Slovenia

Paradigma shifts in our thinking are very powerful.


DayLeeWriter profile image

DayLeeWriter 5 years ago from Georgia

"..It is easier to conquer daily mile markers, than anticipate the whole journey." ....YES! I'm posting that statement above my desk! As I work on changing my thinking ....great hub.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 5 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Thank you DayLeeWriter ~ That is a real honor that you would put my quote above your desk. Change in thinking is possible. Hope you read more of my HUB articles on thought.

Blessings


RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 5 years ago from Tucson, Az

I write and read on HubPagees and one of my hubber friends suggested I check out Dr Bill!

I am so glad I did!! T

hank you HappyBoomerNurse!

Most of all thank you Dr Bill!

I think this will help me more than the cognitive thinking therapy tool

I hope so!

barbara b


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 5 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Hey Barbara B - Thank you for your validating comments. Please read my other articles which many have tips on how you can to improve your thinking which in turn will improve your life.

You are welcome.

Blessings


RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 5 years ago from Tucson, Az

I am way ahead of you Doctor; and sir, thank you

barbara b


waes-hael profile image

waes-hael 5 years ago from The Netherlands

I like the idea of setting some time apart to reprogram your thinking. An entire industry has been built under the premis that by changing your thinking patterns you will change your life. People like Louse Hay and Wayne Dyer have been talking for years about basically the same ides all in their own unique language.

From my own example, I can tell that changing one's thinking is possible yet it takes time and effort. I use meditation, affirmations and auto-suggestions as tools to achieve possitive results.

I will check out your book. Thank you for the hub.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 5 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

waes-hael - Thank you for reading this HUB and writing your comments. I know it has been talked about for years and only we should do it. People need to be taught a skill and then practice it. Consistency and hard work are operative words. Thank for your suggestions. Follow more HUBs. I have some good tips on others to help one change and get out of thought addictions.


Jynzly profile image

Jynzly 4 years ago from Marion, Indiana, USA

So true; I did it myself and the result is amazing. Not only do I feel beautiful but everybody would say I am beautiful when It used to be I was considered the "ugly duckling" among my cousins.

Thank you Dr. Bill Tollefson, your hub is wonderful.

Jynzly


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 4 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Jynzly - You are welcome. I am glad you saw positive results with the process of changing old thinking patterns. I have used this with other people and had the same positive results you did.

It is a fact that when you think you are beautiful (or any positive belief), and accept it into your mind then it becomes true and new thought manifests its self in your life. Shifting to a new set of thoughts works and it is not hard. You just have to be consistent to install a new pattern.

Blessings


Jynzly 4 years ago

Actually, what I did was telling myself "I, Jenny, am beautiful." just like that in first, second, and third person. I wrote it every 8:00 a.m. 20 times a day for 21 days then said it aloud in first, second and third person too, every 8:00 in the evening on that same day I did the writing; while my favourite music was playing and as I look at myself happily in the mirror. The effort is just actually within ourselves...or mind for that matter, to get the desired results.

Thanks again, I do hope that people would have courage to do these very important things for themselves...It's a wonderful life.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 4 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Jynzly Thanks for sharing your process. It was very brave and authentic of you. Keep it up and reset your whole mind. Happy New year.


Jynzly profile image

Jynzly 4 years ago from Marion, Indiana, USA

Thank you too Dr. B. Tollefson and more bessings to you in the whole year to come.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 4 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

You are welcome Jynzly. 2012 will be better and more fulfilling for you.


sunkentreasure profile image

sunkentreasure 4 years ago

SECRETS OF LIFE By BERNARD LEVINE

Look for the beauty

in everything you see.

Walk in peace

showing kindness

everywhere.

The secrets of success

are motivation

and dedication

Happiness is

what you make happen

for yourself.

Caring is

going to the ends of the world

for a stranger.

Be useful with your life.

Whatever you are doing

put your whole

being into it 100%

Loving is

pleasing your loved one everyday

in a 1000 different ways.

Control your mind

you are its master

Be in control.

Live your life

without hurting or

destroying.

Believe in yourself.

Have respect for yourself.

Walk through life

always with a song.

© Bernard Levine


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 4 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

sunkentreasure - Thanks for your Secrets of Life. Very informative. I am sure it will give inspiration to many.


Paul 4 years ago

Thanks for the article, my life coach Sonali has helped me with this issue also check her out - http://sonalidixit.com


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 4 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Paul33 - I am glad you enjoyed my HUB and I hope you read more of them. Blessings


Alice Hadaway 4 years ago

Thank you for a great article. I am doing research for a nursing paper addressing changes in a pattern of thinking and how to apply it personally to my work area. I hope to return and read more! Thank you


Isy 3 years ago

I have been feeling as though there must be something really wrong with my health because my back really hurts and I feel just down. I can't get rid of these thoughts... It happened since a month and when I try and say I am getting myself back on track I have dark thoughts as I have 3 children on my own and worry... I worry about future work, my children etc... How can I turn this around. I so want to be positive


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 3 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Isy –

I want to thank you for reading this blog and for your comment. I know you are afraid and feel like your thoughts are out of control. You can turn it around. Please also read three more of my HUBs that will help you to understand what you are going through and that it is normal.

1. is Addiction: The Truth http://hubpages.com/health/Addiction_Begins_with_a...

2. is Thought Addiction Assessment: Are My Thoughts Addicting http://hubpages.com/health/Am_I_Addicted...

3. another HUB that explains how your core beliefs drive your thoughts and emotions http://hubpages.com/health/Open-Your-Mind-Heal-You...

In my 42+ years as a therapist and now Life Coach, I have helped many to stop thought looping. Do not give up hope. Find out more at http://www.drbilltollefson.com/ and download my free eBook on Personal Philosophy. The eBook will explain a lot more and see that you can change those dark thoughts to positive ones

Blessings, Dr Bill


flip 3 years ago

is it really all about thots or is it about practicall thinking


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 3 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Flip,

Thank you for your comment.

I hope you read more of my HUB articles

Also check out my websites and learn more from more articles and videos.

http://www.makingapositivechange.com/

http://www.drbilltollefson.com/drbilltollefson/#

http://www.youtube.com/user/DrBillLifeCoach?featur...

Blessings, Dr Bill


thefedorows profile image

thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

So true, Dr. Bill. Thoughts are powerful, either life-giving, or not. It is a moment-by-moment choice to "take every thought captive" and replace bad self-talk with positive truths. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

thefedorows,

I really appreciate that you validated me and my ideas. It feels really good. Yes, live in the moment. It is all we have. Yes we can replace bad self-talk with good truths.

Read this HUB on 6 ways to calm your Inner Critic (self-talk) - http://hubpages.com/health/Truam-and-Effcts-on-You...

Thanks for reading and commenting . Please be a follower of my HUB, I will in kind.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 18 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Hello Dr. Bill.....Just today I chose to follow you. I'm beginning at the bottom and plan to work my way up your list of hubs. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and found your video very positive.

I do know what a strenuous march UP hill we have when we realize we need to do some serious work on our old patterns of thought. It takes time, focus and effort. However, as some of the comments have noted, it certainly is worth the blood, sweat & tears.....Thank you. UP+++ tweeted & pinned... Peace, Paula


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 18 months ago from Southwest Florida Author

Dear fpherj48,

Paula I am so glad that you are following me and that you plan to read all my HUB from bottom to the top. Please continue to make comments on them all. It will be very helpful for me and let me know what you might want to know know about.

Also check me out on Tweeter, Pinterest, Facebook and my two blogs - http://positivechangewithdrbill.blogspot.com/ and http://www.williamtollefsonvalues.blogspot.com/ as well as my websites - http://www.drbilltollefson.com/drbilltollefson/ & http://www.makingapositivechange.com/

I will also follow you.

Blessings, Dr. Bill

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