4 Steps to Breaking Negative Thought Patterns

When you’re stuck in a scenario that seems to be playing on repeat it’s easy to feel defeated, as if you have nowhere to turn that will lead to a better outcome. Often when I’m working with a client on a pattern that is reoccuring for them (it could be dating the same kind of people, having the same argument with a partner, or feeling like the same type of experience is on repeat) tackling negative thoughts is the first place we start. Why? Because it all comes back to your perception and belief about what’s happening in your life.

More often than not being stuck in cyclical thoughts is what’s causing you to not be able to move forward to where you actually WANT to be.

For example, how can you possibly start being available for love if all you ever think is: “I’m not worthy”, “What’s it all for anyway?” “All ___ are ass holes” “Nobody gets me so why try?” “People don’t get me.” “I’m too insecure to put myself out there.” 

So how do we go about deprogramming these thoughts that have been so deeply ingrained in your life?  It seems utterly daunting, but it’s worth it if you want to start living out your ideal life. Remember your first “real job”, going to college, saying yes to a cross country road trip when you haven’t left the state before? It all seemed so overwhelming and I’m sure there were times when you thought “Why don’t I just not and do the thing that I’ve always done.” That would have been easier.  Remember the thrill of going through with it? Six months or six years later you look back at it and you are so grateful for the experience and couldn’t imagine how your life would have been without it. That’s exactly what you’re unlocking here with changing your negative thoughts, once you learn this skill though it’ll pay off time and time again in your life. This is something you can take to every part of your life and will continue to expand over time. 

Take one month and follow the steps I outline below and I promise you’ll see shifts in your thought patterns and will start feeling better about parts of your life that until now have felt mired in negativity. 

1. Acknowledge the negative thoughts.

If you don’t do that there’s no hope in being able to disconnect yourself from your thoughts. 

I often encourage my clients to start by simply spending a week acknowledging what their negative thoughts are and putting them into different buckets.  Are most of your negative thoughts about your personality, physical ability or appearance, personal competency or maybe your social interaction?

Notice when and where they occur as well. Determining if these thoughts are connected to a place, person or scenario in your life can be enlightening as you start to uncover the negative thoughts you have and how they’re connected to your life.  

I encourage you to note the thoughts down in an app on your phone or notebook you take with you daily. Being able to capture these thoughts in the moment will make it easier than trying to think back to it at the end of the day. It also helps you to bring awareness to the moment and process through them right then and there. 

2. How are these negative thoughts connected to your history?

Now that you’ve determined what negative thoughts you’re having and where/when they are coming up we can start to identify the why behind them. Negative thoughts don’t come out of nowhere, everything has an origin. 

Take time to read through your notebook after the first week, do this when you have a bit of time so you can start to move through what you discovered and not feel rushed. As you read through each of the negative thoughts and any additional notes you may have taken feel into the thought. Is it connected to something from when you were a kid? Was it related to something that someone said recently that has struck a cord? Is it something that your family instilled in you? Negative thoughts all have an origin and taking time to determine the origin will help in unlocking the next step.

Once you’ve determined where or how it’s connected to your past think through the original situation, how did that make you feel? How was the situation negative at the time? Is it still negative for you? Have you grown from it but this thought is just lingering? Is it something that has occured in other ways as well throughout your life? Doing this deeper work will allow the changes to take a stronger hold in your life. 

3. The White Box Practice.

You may have heard me talk about the “white box” exercise before. If not, it’s an opportunity to drop the current situation and dream up the ideal, regardless of what your “reality” currently looks like. 

I want you to imagine a place where all the baggage tied to this negative thought is gone. The situation back in your history didn’t happen, or unfolded differently. You don’t have any negative association to this at all. Now, step into this white room where absolutely nothing in your life is wrong or off balance. Think back to the negative thought or situation and how you would PREFER the situation to unfold when the thought comes up. Instead of “I’m sick of dealing with this same issue with my partner.” or “I’m so over attracting the same deadbeats.” Think of what it would be like to have that conversation unfold naturally with your partner, how would the issue be resolved for the highest good of all involved. Or instead of meeting deadbeats all the time imagine what it would be like to be dating a person that was motivated and had many of your same interests? 

Spend a few minutes each day entertaining this positive idea within the white box. What would you say? What would your demeanor be? How would this unfold into other parts of your life? This exercise doesn’t have to be done in a vacuum either. It helps to be wholly focused but really you can do it while walking the dog, folding laundry, or doing the dishes. Take this time to allow yourself to start programming new thoughts around these situations that have been triggering you. Take a week or two to do this work, allow yourself to get into the daydream and don’t worry about the action steps. 

4.  Take each negative thoughts and write the positive alternative to it.

Instead of “I only attract deadbeats.” how about “I’m connected to what I want and people notice it.” With this positive alternative you’re not triggering doubt by saying “I attract my dream person every day.” This is one more positive step to allow yourself to be open to the end goal and desire in your life. Also, in this example, saying that you’re connected to what you want, you're reinforcing your own clarification in life.  Do this with each of your negative thoughts and make sure that the positive thoughts are available to you at the drop of the hat. This is prime time for the Ego to start making up some BS and convincing you that these changes won’t work. Keeping all your tools at the ready is a sure fire way to combat any residual negativity that may pop up. 

5. (BONUS!) What is one thing you can do to change around a specific negative thought?

Take one of your negative thoughts and compare it to the White Box story ideal. With your White Box story note how your positive thought relates with it. How is that positive thought a bridge to the White Box ideal? Now what’s ONE thing you can do TODAY to start moving toward that ideal? This is not “Quit my job” “Divorce the jerk” kind of idea. This one step is something like “start journaling again” or “Don’t interact with so-and-so for two days.” They may seem really trivial but I promise you, these small steps are what create the foundation for huge change. 

Do work in step 4 and 5 congruently and start toward the end of the month.

I honestly come back to this EXACT formula all the time to help me in releasing negative thought patterns in my own life. This series will move faster and faster the more often you work with it. 

Within a month, you will see changes and I SO want to hear about them! Feel free to email me - whitney@beingoppenh.com or shoot me a message on whatever social platform is your favorite. Here’s to breaking the spiral of negative thoughts and jumping in with both feet to your ideal life. 

If this has unearthed something bigger and you want to talk, lets! I offer FREE 30 minute consults were we can discuss whatever it is that's got you thinking "I need to do something different."

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