Is It True?  How to Banish Negative Thoughts

We have so many thoughts kicking around in our heads all day, every day – and even at night as we sleep! And if you read my post on Law of Attraction, you’ll know that our lives tend to reflect the content of our thoughts. Most of our thinking “just happens” – like breathing – it is on autopilot. One of the keys to recovery is to become more aware of those thoughts – in order to banish negative thoughts – something I’ve written many posts on in the past.

Questioning Our Thinking

One of the keys … is to become more aware of those thoughts
 What I haven’t written about yet is a great technique I learned a few years ago. It helps us start to question our thoughts – to have a dialogue with them. Think about your thoughts for a moment. How do you feel as you really look at the thoughts you are having? For me, I used to completely identify with each thought – and let it rule my moods. For example, I could have a normal day, but if I had one thought about something that I didn’t do well or forgot – anything that wasn’t “perfect” – I could suddenly feel like a bad person. Maybe even a failure. In that moment, I’d forget the big picture of my life. I’d forget how much I had accomplished, how well thought of I was at work or in my personal life. I’d forget how much I’d done well or right and get stuck on what was “wrong.”

When Thoughts Create Moods

Just one thought and my mood could go from good to bad, from high to low. And as I further identified with the thought – made it into “me” or “my story,” I would start to feel depressed. I’d start to feel like, “this is my life and it’s terrible.” Have you ever done that? For some reason, it is easier to feel the pull of negativity in today’s world. Maybe it’s because of the news constantly broadcasting murder, terrorism, war and fear. Maybe it’s because people think that saying positive things about their lives is “bragging,” so it’s easier to be cynical and negative. Maybe people are overworked and have put their dreams aside in the name of financial security. There are so many reasons – and yet – staying in negativity is one of the reasons we get stuck.

Starting A Dialogue With Thoughts

So how do we start this dialogue with our thoughts? The first thing to do is be aware of your thoughts. Even if you just spend 15 minutes or an hour or a day – watch your thoughts. You could also start to watch your thoughts when something is really bothering you – see what it is you are thinking and feeling. Then, start the dialogue, which I’ll outline for you in a moment.

First, it’s important to know that we all see the world, our past and our lives through a filter. This filter, our perception, is made up of past experiences we’ve had and subsequent beliefs we took on because of those experiences. It’s as if we all have a different pair of sunglasses – each one reflecting back the same experience differently. This is why several people can view an accident and describe the events differently. Everyone sees things from their own unique point of view – and interprets it differently based on that. This means that our lives – or how we’ve seen our lives – are really just an interpretation of the truth.

The good news is that we get to decide what that interpretation is. You might say, as I did, “But I know how it happened, I know the facts – that doesn’t change!” The interesting thing is that “the facts” are not necessarily the same to each person in the same experience. So when any one event occurs – and is witnessed by 5 people – the only difference in the facts is the interpretation from each person. If you have the ability to decide what your interpretation is, it gives you power. You get to decide if you will be negatively or positively impacted based on your interpretation – or perception.

The Dialogue – Four Questions

This dialogue was created by Byron Katie — and helped her recover from years of depression. The idea of asking yourself these 4 questions is to look at your interpretation of any thought and consider other alternatives. When you see something from many different angles – or perspectives – you may surprise yourself to find that your original thought was not so “set in stone” after all. There may be other interpretations that are just as valid.

Here are the questions:
  • Is it true?
  • Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  • How do you react when you believe that thought?
  • Who would you be without the thought?

With each thought, ask yourself each of these questions. Write down the answers and over time, you may find yourself doing this on the fly. Eventually, you may not even have to go through the dialogue because it comes so naturally that it’s automatic. You may find that you have the ability to choose how you are thinking, since you are empowered to see any event or thought from many angles.

Byron Katie’s website gives you an example of using this technique with the thought, “My mother doesn’t love me.” You can follow the example through the four questions – and she even gives sub-questions you can ask yourself.

The Turnaround

I found just working through the questions was very effective, but even more effective was the final step – the turnaround. The turnaround is when you start looking at other perspectives that could be just as true or truer. Here you have the opportunity to wear someone else’s “sunglasses” – to remove your filter and see a situation from different angles. Keep in mind that you may do what I did at first – back to that statement, “but I know the facts and I know what I saw/felt/experienced was true!” “The Work,” as Byron Katie calls it – this dialogue – is your opportunity to get unstuck. It’s an opportunity to see and experience your life in the way that serves you best.

It kind of reminds me of that question I’ve heard a lot of lately, “ Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” This is not a choice about being right or wrong. It’s a choice about being happy or stuck in negativity. This technique has helped me work through some deeply held beliefs that have not served me – and I’ve often used it with great success with my clients.

Your Actions

Take a tour around Byron Katie’s website – she gives you all the tools you need to get started. Consider doing this with a friend and trading being the facilitator – it’s a great way to share this experience and talk about the unlimited perspectives we can choose from! As you do this, see what happens to your feelings, your moods. See what happens to your beliefs. Perhaps write what you have learned from this in your journal. See if it brings you a little closer to feeling empowered to create your life, your way.

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As a coach, writer and recovered former executive, I understand the challenges of creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle when over-scheduled. In my journey to radiant health, I created a whole health system of eating, exercise, renewal and recharging -- a roadmap toward health & vitality. I empower clients to create their own whole health systems, in their own unique ways. I have seen amazing results in working with my clients!