50,000 times a day. That’s how often you talk to yourself, according to the researchers. Sadly, 80% of it is negative — I shouldn’t have said that . . . She doesn’t like me . . . I’m never going to get this done . . . I can’t . . . I’m not . . . I’m stupid . . . I’m always . . .
Negative thoughts control our actions. They can make us stammer, forget the speech we’ve memorized, take shortened breaths, feel anxious and start sweating. Lie detectors show the reaction our body has to our thoughts — temperature changes, elevated heart rates, tightening of muscles, and increased blood pressure. While negative thoughts weaken our bodies, positive thoughts impact our bodies favorably. Endorphins are secreted with each positive thought reducing pain and increasing pleasure.
Clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist Daniel Amen says, “Don’t believe everything you hear—even in your own mind.” Most of the negative thought in our brain is not based on truth but instead our imagination. In his book The Success Principles, Jack Canfield suggests that we constantly ask ourselves these questions:
Is this thought helping or hurting me? Is it getting me closer to where I want to go, or taking me further away? Is it motivating me to action, or is it blocking me with fear and self-doubt?
Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, tells a story about her daughter. Ellen was playing in the “Glitter Center” in her kindergarten classroom when her teacher said, “Ellen! You’re a mess.” Ellen very seriously responded, “I may be making a mess, but I’m not a mess.” 40,000 times a day, talk back! Object to the negative talk (both yours and others) and move toward language that adds value to you.
Take Inventory & Responsibility
An exercise created by Doug Bench, a brain researcher, recommends that you write down every negative thought you think, say or hear for 3 days. This will highlight how much negativity is running through your system. Once you're aware of this self-deprecation, you’ll have a burning desire to bring it to a halt. Consider finding an accountability partner to catch you every time you mutter a negative word. A business meeting I attend requires everyone to pay a dollar into the pot when we’re caught complaining, blaming, or spewing negativity. Build in some kind of cost that you pay every time someone catches you verbalizing the negative. In the beginning you will need pockets full of dollar bills. By day 5 or so you’ll be escorting those automatic negative thoughts right out the back door.
Accentuate the Positive
Determine to focus on the positive. Dwell on positive messages about yourself and your future. Also, practice marinating in the good moments — a hug, a joke, good conversation. By doing that a few times a day, you will weave positive resources into the fabric of your brain and chip away at the negativity. Ruminating on the positive will not only impact how you physically feel but it will also add value to your life and the lives around you.
Just because you hear or think it doesn’t mean its true. You are ultimately in charge of listening and agreeing with the thoughts in your mind. Transformation of your inner judge can start today, why wait until tomorrow to get started?