It takes less effort than you think to train your brain to think differently. With a little practice, the outcome will blow you away.
The power of positive thinking goes way beyond just changing your mood. When you think new thoughts, you get new results; it is the difference between hitting a goal and a feeling of disappointment or even failure.
By retraining your brain to think differently, your new thoughts will change your feelings. These new feelings will change the actions that you take and therefore the results that you get. It is a simple four-step process to help you get closer to what you want in life.
Did you know that your thoughts affect which neurotransmitters and chemicals your brain releases which in turn affect how you feel. Positive thoughts will encourage the brain to release happy hormones such as serotonin or dopamine. Negative thoughts will increase the release of cortisol, a stress hormone.
How can I change my way of thinking?
1. Use positive thinking to replace negative thinking
As an example of how to think differently, let’s say you want to lose weight….
Old way of thinking
Thoughts: ‘Why can’t I can’t lose weight?’, ‘It’s just too hard’ or ‘I’m useless at sticking to things’.
> Feelings in response to these thoughts: despondent, unmotivated, resigned
> Actions in response to these feelings: staying in bed instead of going to the gym, snacking unhealthily, having a blow out dinner
> End result: little or no weight loss
New way of thinking
Thoughts: ‘This is a fresh start’, ‘I am committed to reaching my goal weight by X date’ or ‘It’s been hard before but I will do it this time.’
> Feelings: energised, motivated, steadfast, committed, dedicated, self belief, self confidence
> Actions: exercising, eating more healthily, saying no to dessert, making morning juices, buying new gym kit
> End result: Weight loss
2. Try thinking like how a positive friend or colleague might think
Ask yourself, if they were in your shoes, how they would look at this goal / circumstance / position?
You could even ask them outright to trigger new thought patterns for yourself.
3. Change your self talk to include positive words and language
I’ve worked with clients who unconsciously use language which keeps them where they are. For example, they say phrases such as “Maybe if I xxx”, “If I could just xxx”, “If only I xxx”, "Perhaps I could xxx".
Examples of thinking differently: “I could xxx”, “I will xxx” or “It is possible for me to xxx”, "It is safe for me to xxx".
4. Assume you already have what you want and then think/talk to yourself in the present tense with this assumption
This is a powerful way to train your brain towards getting what you want.
For example, if you want to change your job, say “I love my new job, my new job brings me more time and more money, I love the people I work with in my new job, I feel more settled in my new job, I am so happy that I changed my job.”
Even if it feels weird and unnatural to begin with, keep going with it. It will really change your feelings, your actions and therefore your results.
5. Remove any barriers you have put in your way
Sometimes we create mental barriers which block the path to our goal. For example, you may tell yourself that you can’t change your job until you have had a baby; or you can’t take more time with your family until you have cleared out the garage.
In the meantime, you stay in a job that makes you miserable or stay feeling like you are missing out on valuable family time. This creates the awful feeling of being stuck.
Who said you have you have to clear the garage out first or that you have to have a baby first? On reflection, you will see it is probably only you creating this barrier.
By attaching one result to another, in essence combining two separate goals into one, you are putting a barrier in the way of reaching a goal. Keep goals separate to give you freedom and movement to reach them each individually.
I hope you have found these techniques useful. Here are two more ways to help you to train your brain to think differently:
A) Understand this very simple metaphor which explains how neural pathways in the brain work: How to Stop Negative Thoughts For Good