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 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
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 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
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. 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.