It’s All In Your Head – Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

by David

in Be Awesome

You have to get your head sorted out!

You desperately want personal and professional success, but unless you sort out what goes on inside your head you will forever be an ‘almost’ person. Almost successful, but not quite.

The way you think is massively important in determining whether you achieve your dreams, so, change your thoughts – change your life!

One of the greatest Henry Ford quotes:

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.

Changing your thinking is a theme that appears consistently in self-development books and blogs, but I suspect most people don’t do anything about it because it’s not always easy.

It’s no surprise really. You doubtless have a decade or two behind you in which you’ve developed some unhelpful thinking and corresponding patterns of behaviour. Ingrained habits can be hard to break!

It’s all in your head

Without a shadow of doubt the best thing I’ve done for myself is to change the way I think.

Improving the way I think has changed the way I act, which in turn has made me happier and more productive – but it’s taken me a long time.

For me, it was the realisation that most of what happens in life happens inside our head and this is because of the meaning we attach to things and events.

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we perceive them to be.

We are programmed to attach meaning to everything in our lives and when something happens, we effectively ask, “What does this mean?”

We do this because we want to assess whether it’s good for us, bad for us, or something irrelevant that we can ignore. It’s a survival mechanism designed to make sure we live long enough to fulfil our biological imperatives!

Change your questions, change your life

Our brain is a problem solving machines, and when we ask it a question, it is compelled to give us an answer.

Where there are gaps in our knowledge it will guess based on numerous previous experience–and most of this goes on behind the wall of our unconscious mind and we have no ready access to that information.

It will also guess based on the filters we apply either consciously or unconsciously. These filters may include our beliefs (regardless of how accurate those beliefs are).

Unfortunately it doesn’t always come up with the right answer and quite often it comes up with a negative answer depending on the way you’ve asked the question, and what you’re currently focusing on in life.

If you ask yourself why you’re such a loser, your grey matter will dutifully supply you with “The All Time Top Ten Reasons Why You Are And Always Will Be a Colossal Loser.”

But if you ask it what you could do to improve your situation it will try to come up with some useful solutions.

If you ask it why those solutions won’t work, it will come back with an answer.

If you ask it why those solutions will work it will come back with answer.

Unless you’re analysing the options in order to solve problems ahead of time, it’s better to ask the second question to save you from undermining yourself.

By attaching positive meaning to outside events and thinking in a positive way we can change the way we behave, which is crucial because it’s the things we do (or don’t do) that define our situation.

The voice in your head is yours

You can let the interior monologue gabble away and undermine you in everything you do and let it fill your head with doubt and uncertainty or you can control what the inner voice says and have it say positive, encouraging and optimistic things.

To be fair, you have to be aware of your internal conversation before you can do anything about it. You may not even be aware of some of the outrageously harmful things you tell yourself.

Take some time to notice what it is you say and how you say it. Be aware of just how negative it is.

Imagine if someone else spoke to you in that way, you’d be insulted and deeply wounded.

Don’t allow anyone to talk to you like that – especially yourself!

It’s not always easy to think thoughts that can change your life

The reason it’s hard for people who are experiencing difficulty in their lives to change the way they think, is because they’re in pain, they’re anxious, tired, scared, they’re in fight or flight mode. They’ve lost some ability to reason and lack clarity of thought which impacts their decision making abilities.

Taking on new skills is not easy when you’re closing down and getting ready to run away. Emotion and reason conflict with one another and this can be paralysing.

It’s also hard to get into the ‘change your thinking’ message if you’re sceptical about it. If you’ve spent a lot of time feeling that life is against you and believing that you’re a victim of circumstance, you may be reluctant to believe the solution to your problem lies within, not without.

It’s also hard buy into this when you’ve tried some ‘positive thinking’ techniques and they haven’t worked. I understand this because you feel that it’s risky to invest time in something that might not work—especially if you’re already in turmoil and feel overwhelmed with too much to do.

It may not be easy BUT it is possible, and it’s well worth the effort

If you’re hurting and right in the thick of what is possibly the most difficult time of your life, it’s going to be tough to make some changes but you have to try.

Until you can master your thoughts you may need to dig deep during the tough times and use whatever tools you already have, including your negative emotions, to prevent you from collapsing in on yourself.

If that’s all you can do, do it, but in the moments when the pressure recedes use that time to make the changes to the way you think.

Practice positive thinking.

Slowly but surely change your thoughts.

Slowly but surely, change your life for the better.

Henry Ford 'If You think You can' quote

Image (CC)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

smittenbybritain November 23, 2011 at 6:36 pm

For me, one of the biggest hurdles of changing the way I think, is to recognize the “stinking thinking.” It’s so ingrained, it plays over and over in my head like a recording stuck on play. Sometimes you need to stop and be quiet and ‘think’ about what your are thinking. Check in with yourself, which is many times easier said than done.

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David December 5, 2011 at 12:48 am

I love the term ‘stinking thinking’ I’ll probably adopt it (unless you own the copyright?). You’re right though… when we play things over and over in our heads, we’re robbing ourselves of the time we could be using to do amazing things.
I know I already said thanks on Twitter, but thanks again for the comment!

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bungo March 6, 2013 at 8:07 am

some past thoughts got stuck in the mind and its impossible to get rid of it. the more you try to get rid of it the longer it stays and pains you. mind is so complicated and difficult to control. Any suggestions on how to control the mind….

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David March 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Bungo, like a song or a tune you can’t get out of your head?

As you can only hold one thought at time maybe you should make a new more empowering thought the predominant one by repeating it.

I saw a similar thing in this book…

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