- Mental Health
How to Change Old Patterns of Thinking
If you can't change your thinking, you can't change yourself
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 thought patterns are ingrained 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 affects how you think, feel, behave, or how you react to life situations.
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
Do you feel you can control your thoughts?
Think you are locked out of changing your thoughts?
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.
In order to change your old patterns of thinking you first have to recognize what your thought patterns are. Thought patterns are a collection of thoughts embedded in your subconscious mind. If you think about it, thought patterns are a grouping of thoughts which are filed in your mind. In order to clearly see the patterns of your thought, 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 thought areas.
1. Relationships with self
2. Relationships with others
7. Body Image
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.
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.
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
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. Then this time create new specific positive thoughts that you want in each life area.
Know that vague and general thoughts are a formula for doom. When your mind is given vague and general statements, it does not understand. Your mind will get confused, become paralyzed, not accept the new thoughts and in return go back to the old familiar patterns. So, be specific in what you want.
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, not will power. This action is done through focused practice. Take your new create a list of thoughts, call now you want to embed into your subconscious (call the 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.
Examples of a few possible powerful positive 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 several times a day (morning, afternoon, after dinner or before bedtime) to say these PLAs for thirty (30) days straight. During each daily scheduled time, read your list 4 times in a row with emotion and accent to each statement as you repeat each.
The most important time for your subconscious mind to absorb is just before you go to sleep and first thing when you wake up. Why? Your subconscious mind will percolate on your PLAs the whole time you are asleep. In the morning when you wake after your say your PLAs, your subconscious mind will look to manifest that list in your life.
There are two keys to embedding new thoughts into your subconscious mind:
#1 Practice, practice and practice your list some more. The more and longer 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 his or her skills over and over again until performing increases and the skills are mastered. Then skills are performed without thinking.
#2 Being emotionally attached to old negative thoughts or excited emotionally by the negative thoughts is how distorted, diluted and negative thoughts were accepted and stored in the subconscious mind 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 at scheduled times and feel them as you repeat them. Guaranteed 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 on your commitment to practicing your new PLAs. To conquer your resistance, make a firm commitment to yourself to change. Follow consistently every day on your schedule times and practice, practice and practice more. Do not lose your focus. It takes time. Take it 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 anticipating the whole journey (30 days).
The more you follow through with your commitment to self and carry out your schedule the less reluctant and 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 your behaviors and trigger you to think in old predictable patterns. You tend to be blind to remembering of your old ways of thinking and how they hurt you. Stopping your practice too soon can cause you to go back to and react to old patterns. Then self-sabotage behavior is not far behind. Make sure that you take out reminders of your past and replace them with supporting associations and experiences. Be excited about a new beginning.
Just remember: Change isn't an event: it is a process.
© 2010 Bill Tollefson