How to change your destructive thought patterns.
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As many of you may already know, myriads of thoughts come to us each day.
“What am I going to have for dinner tonight” to “how I look awful today” while looking at your reflection on the mirror.
To the criticism of the TV headlines, the fear of failure, the annoyment of a traffic jam first thing in the morning.
You got it, everything is a thought.
Scientists tell us we have about 40 to 80 thousands thoughts per day the most of which is recycled from the day before, the year before and sometimes from 10 years ago. They also say our thoughts are mostly negative.
It can sound overwhelming to hear but there is a scientific approach to it.
First of all, there are degrees when it comes to thoughts.
Let me explain:
We have positive thoughts that which represent a small percentage of the totality of our daily thoughts.
Then we have the infamous “negative thoughts” coming from our individual and negative perception of our human reality and which often cripples us and leaving us incapable to move forward.
These thoughts according to me could be classified this way:
Dangerous for our wellbeing and non-dangerous for our wellbeing.
Let’s start with the non-dangerous:
For example: “The forecast is not great today” or “ I think that her last haircut looked better on her”.
Now the dangerous thoughts:
For instance: “I hate myself” or “I’d rather die than work one more day in this job” and even “I will never make it big”.
If our thought is mostly counterproductive what does it say about the shape of our own reality?
Thoughts directly shape our lives because they impact and decide for us what and how we perceive our reality. If our thoughts are mostly negative then they are a strain to our happiness. Not only we don’t like what we see but we also criticise, reject condemn and refuse this reality by resisting to what is.
Our thoughts bring us the feeling of love, excitement but rarely contentment but instead and most of the time, fear, anxiety, depression, regret, misunderstanding, pessimism, jealousy or even violence.
The more we feel these emotions, the more it is revealed in our reality. we then keep on producing thoughts from the same level of emotion we feel, because of what we see, so we feel bad and attract even more negative circumstances in our lives, to which we react again and so on. It is called a loop. A negative loop in which we humans are stuck.
These thoughts become habits which integrate as parts of ourselves. They form our personality at this point.
In other words, we are not aware of all our thoughts and live our lives by default.
Our thought process takes our life over and runs in automatic pilot. Sometimes we say “ It is my destiny” or “I am not lucky”.
human conditioning and programming
But in reality, we are the victims of a program that runs since our birth and before and passed on through generations. Our brain records everything through our 5 senses and its main purpose is not to have to learn everything from scratch, but there is a downside when the brain keeps on records our negative and destructive patterns as well as all the conditioned ideas coming from our societies and institutions, because it directs our lives without us knowing it…
We are taught what’s good from bad, what is socially acceptable from non-acceptable, or that success is usually a win but failure is mocked or pitied, beauty is on a pedestal while ugliness is shamed.
Everything happens in the background. It is not our fault, it is our programs. We are mostly unconscious of our thoughts during the day.
We can divide the brain into 3 parts:
The conscious mind is in charge of the information, analysis reasoning in our lives. This is where we experience and perceive our reality through our senses. It represents the pic of the iceberg
The unconscious mind is the hardware that which we cannot change and which regulates our biology such as our breathing heartbeats digestion pain, survival instinct (whose fear is a program) and so on…
A subconscious mind is a recording machine where are stored our memories emotions feelings and all data coming from this life our ancestors and past lives.
The conscious mind represents the smallest part of the 3 and so our life is managed by both our subconscious and unconscious minds.
In other words, if we have childhood traumas, they all are recorded, and most of the time we may not remember the images, but we do recall an emotion, a feeling.
The emotional remembrance comes like a flash, triggered by something: a movie, a word, a sound or a smell. Often it pushes us to unconscious reactions, and sometimes it leads us towards a path that we did not consciously choose.
It is in that way that our lives are running in automatic pilot and it is also why we sometimes feel bad but we don’t know why.
We feel an emotion that we don’t understand because nothing just happened we think, whereas in fact, we just had an unconscious thought and we feel and react to the emotion. No wonder we can sometimes be confused or even in a state of distress.
Imagine, as an example, what the impact of a feeling of abandonment can produce in your romantic relationships. Without you being aware that “something” runs in the background, you will keep on reacting and sabotaging your relationships.
It then makes sense to hear “ men or women are all the same” or “I am not lucky in love” “where are the good men” and so on, because we are repeating the same patterns over and over.
If we were conscious of the rules of the game we could do something about it. However, we must start by accepting that it actually happens this way and that it also has an impact on how we perceive our lives and the actions we take.
If we have a feeling of unworthiness because we think we have been abandoned as a child, and we cannot clearly remember because it could be traumas from past lives or from our ancestors as well, our life will revolve around this theme. If we look around, we could see evidence of it in our reality, but only if we take the time to analyse it.
suffering and pain
If our reality, which reflects our thoughts, is pain and suffering, what are we thinking about each day? What can we do if we don’t have control over which though we think and how to stop creating by default?
If we don’t like the way our life looks like we have to observe, analyse our thought pattern, we have to accept that this is actually the way it is for the moment and also train our mind differently, introducing new ideas which will create new behaviours.
Can we do that and change our automatic patterns?
neurons nerves and electrical impulses
Yes, according to neurosciences our brain is wired to produce change, a constant in the brain, as it is in life.
Change involves learning, and all learning generates change in the brain. When we seek to replace a behaviour, such as a toxic thinking pattern, our actions produce neurochemical and molecular changes in cells known as neurons.
As messengers, neurons communicate by transmitting electrical signals between them, and these signals are activated by the exchange of chemicals in the synapses.
Our brain and body is a sophisticated communication network. This vast and complex network manages the flow of information that, quite literally, shapes our behaviours and in many ways our life. These electrical impulses, we may say, consist of molecules of emotion that are designed to “control” the overall direction of your life, arguably, to produce optimal outcomes in the highest interest of our health and wellbeing.
training and repetition
Neuroscience research provides two clues:
1- Habits are triggered by a particular cue, situation, or event.
2- Habits are persistent once formed, they are very hard to break.
Breaking our bad habit could be achieved by carefully paying attention to what, where, when, and why our habit is triggered. Once we recognise the trigger, the trick is to consciously and mindfully repeat our new desired behaviour, action or thought instead. Similar to forming the old habit, we must repeat this process over and over until the new habit is wired to the old trigger — eventually masking the old habit.
I hope you found this article informative. You will find below a resource link to the Chopra centre website where you can gather more information on how to break from bad habits, in my opinion.