Your mind can be either a Weapon of Mass Production or a Weapon of Mass Destruction depending on how you use it.
On average, your mind processes about 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of thoughts. It’s about 3000 per hour or 50 per minute, or just under one per second. I know you might be thinking it’s crazy and impossible, but the reality is most of these thoughts are being processed sub-consciously. Your consciousness is not even aware of them. Yet, these thoughts affect your perception, your feelings, your emotions and your sense of reality.
What’s even more alarming is that it is so easy for our thoughts to be negative. Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings, and negative outlook on your personal life. There’s a reason for this from evolution that could explain why we dwell so much on the negative.
We humans were designed to be keenly aware of the negative circumstance and consequences that helped our ancestors survive. Think about cavemen who went out to hunt food for their family. Those that returned safely did so because their brain kept them sharply attuned to attacks from tigers lurking in the bush. Their brain constantly reminded them of negative events that could go wrong, so they were prepared to fight and defend.
However, as our society evolved to the present times, we don’t have a regular need to defend from tigers and other predators. Yet, the part of the brain that amplifies negative events remains fully functional. This is called the negativity bias. The negativity bias is the tendency to have a greater sensitivity to negative than to positive events. Some researches assumes that psychologically speaking, negative events weighs to three times more than positive events. While this bias, may help us in survival situation, it definitely doesn’t help us in everyday life situations. Rather it can cause distress and limit a person’s potential.
For example, when I was at university I had the chance to mingle with both positive minded and negative minded students. Whenever we had an exam, the type of attitude that I noticed people had determined their final grades. There were those who always worried and thought negatively about the outcome. They would say things such as “I don’t think I’m gonna pass”, “I can’t remember anything that I studied”, “I’m going to fail”, “This test is too hard” and so on.
And then there were those who were positive no matter how much you try and scare them. They say, “It’s alright, I got this”, “It’s hard but I can study to make it easy”, “I will find a way to answer everything even if my mind goes blank”.
When the grades were released, interestingly both types of individuals were right. Those with low expectations from negative point of view generated low results and some even failed flat. While those who had, the positive approach would pass even if they knew as little as those with a negative attitude. The thoughts and the attitudes in both cases helped shaped the outcome of their life. These were the consequences of negative versus positive thinking.
So, how can you train your mind to be more positive? I will share what I call the 3 R’s method that works for me and I am hoping will also help you to be more positive
To change your thoughts patterns, you first must have an awareness of what your mind is thinking all day long. Get a small notepad or you can use your phone’s notes app. Spend one full day simply noticing what you say to yourself. Write it down in your journal as you go through the day. Do no alter or judge these statements. Simply observe them and write them down as if you were clinical scientist.
At the end of the day, before bed, review these statements. Ask yourself, “Would I say this to my best friend, my boss, my child, or my mentor? Would I be embarrassed if others knew I was saying these things to myself? Is what I am saying to myself encouraging me to grow or weighing me down?
Write down a list of ten things you like to start saying to yourself. Start repeating this statement as often as you like. Notice that as you do, your overall feeling about life and yourself can’t help but change.
Remember, we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. That’s why it is important to pay attention to the voice that’s always talking inside our heads. This always amazes people. Even those who think they are positive often find that their inner thoughts patterns are the extreme opposite. Once you start listening to your thoughts, you’ll be surprised how often you catch yourself saying negative things about yourself. Keep listening! Eventually, with practice, you will start replacing the negative thoughts with positive empowering thoughts automatically.
However, just having the positive thoughts is not enough, you need ACTION. A positive thought without any action is just a thought in your head that disappears after a while. In the next post, I will share some techniques that I use to put those positive thoughts into action which will lead to a more positive life. Stay tuned!