A vital key to your happiness: your inner dialogue

What you think determines your decisions, perceptions, goals, behaviours, confidence and everything about your life.

Take a moment to consider the kind of private thoughts you have about yourself. What are you telling yourself? These thoughts are determining your life direction. In fact, you have the power to be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. Which are you being?

You may think negative thoughts like: “I am dumb,” “I could never be successful,” or “I will never get out of debt,” are inconsequential. However, these are the kinds of thoughts that need changing because they have a very powerful nagative effect on you. These negative thoughts are creating and determining your future!

Are these the thoughts that you want to guide your life?

How do you know how your thoughts are impacting you?

Are you telling yourself “I can,” or “I can’t”? Notice how you feel when you say to yourself “I can do it.” Notice how you feel when you say to yourself “I can’t do it,” or “I can’t make a mistake.” The “I can’t” statement creates a negative, heavy feeling. When you say “I can,” the energy is lighter, hopeful and energizing. When you walk around all day saying negative things to yourself, it is like stacking bags of sand on your back.

At the end of the day you will no doubt feel tired and beaten down. Unhappiness, low energy and negativity are usually a result of the things we are saying to ourselves. Thoughts can make you either give up or keep going. When you think you can’t be successful, you give up before you even start. When we believe in ourselves we are happier, are more able to deal with stress, and have increased resiliency. When we propagate negative perceptions of ourselves, we are more likely to become depressed and anxious.

Perhaps these thoughts seems small, but a downward spiral begins when you continue in a negative thought cycle. What does this cycle look like? You have a thought, conclude it is true, feel bad, imagine more negative scenarios and then feel hopeless and defeated. If you fall into this cycle, you are likely to give up before you even start.

Ready to squash these destructive thoughts?

Step one is...NOTICE

The first step is to notice what you are thinking. What messages are you telling yourself throughout the day? Write them down or make a mental note. Perhaps you’d be surprised to learn that any of the following thoughts crossed your mind:

  • I am not qualified
  • I am insignificant
  • I am inadequate
  • I am guilty
  • I am ashamed
  • I will never make it
  • I am unable to have my dreams come true
  • I am too in debt
  • I am out of shape

If you believe these negative ideas you are setting yourself up for defeat, anxiety and depression.

Step two...INTERRUPT

Take a few deep, slow breaths. Noticing your thoughts in the present moment without judgement is called mindfulness. When we notice our thoughts without judgement we can begin to interrupt what could become a negative pattern of events. We can begin to interrupt the negative cycle of an event by noticing the heavy, debilitating thought, then replacing it with a more positive one. Imagine the other possibility. If you tell yourself "I am smart," you are more likely to apply yourself as you believe you can do well on a test, exceed in school and receive promotions at work.

Changing the messages you tell yourself helps you to begin to learn to accept and love yourself just the way you are. Accepting and loving yourself comes with the side effect of feeling more peace and joy in your life. It is hard to be happy when you are constantly saying mean things to yourself, and unnecessarily condemning yourself.

Another outcome of self acceptance is improved relationships. If you like yourself, you have more confidence, don’t take what others say too personally and enjoy relationships more. Changing harsh thoughts is not easy! Humans have a tendency to focus on the negative and be self-critical. But you can begin to feel better today by not getting on the negative, self-critical train. Instead, breathe, interrupt the thought and find a kinder one! I encourage you to try to accept yourself the way you are. It may mean just saying “I am upset with myself right now, but I am trying to let it go.”

Try these phrases on for size:

  • I am smart
  • I am capable of whatever I put my mind to
  • I am slowly moving towards my goal
  • This is a temporary setback I can get through this

Success is failure turned inside-out

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently” ~ Henry Ford

The swimmer, Diana Nynd, is a great example of turning failure into success. At age 60, after having not swum a stroke in decades, she began planning a record breaking 110-mile ocean crossing between Cuba and Florida. She'd tried several times before. On one attempt she was stung by a poisonous jellyfish. She decided to try again with a new commitment to her vision. At the age of 64, with the new motto, “find a way,” she achieved her lifetime dream and completed the treacherous swim. Diana could have easily said, “I am too old to do it now,” “my body is not strong enough,” or “I’ve tried and it is impossible.” But instead she said, “I am able to do it,” “I now know what it takes,” and “I can do it.”

And she did!

Don’t believe you are a failure or cannot overcome limitations

Set your goals and keep pursuing them. If you hit a roadblock, determine if you need to redirect your energies, learn a skill or adjust in another way. You are allowed to feel frustrated, sad and mad. But then you must examine what you have learned, and what you still need to learn to succeed.

Be mindful: think about and challenge your thoughts. Determine which ones you would like to focus on and which you would like to delete from your memory files. You have a choice to believe that negative thought or choose a more positive one.

Homework

Take a sheet of paper and make 3 columns. In the first column, put the heading "Negative thought." In the second column, put the heading "Ask: Do I know for sure it’s true?" and in the third column, put the heading "Positive thought." Write in your negative thoughts, challenge them, and then write your positive thoughts.

Negative thought Ask: Do I know for sure it’s true? Positive thought
1 1 1
2 2 2

Be careful what you think. Create the life you want.

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