Why do so many of us hold onto our awful past? We desperately want to move away from the toxic soup of invasive memories, yet we’re drawn back like a moth to a flame. How do we jump off this crazy train, this never-ending thought loop of dysfunction and despair?
The need to relive and ruminate on negative past events is often due to a person’s inability to process and move through difficult experiences. Also, human brains do not particularly like change. They like certainty, even if that certainty is not beneficial. Its like the old saying goes, ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know’. Thinking old shitty thoughts is a habit that has been ingrained in your mind.
To produce better results, we need to create a new roadmap to success. Our old faulty beliefs, values and habits just will not cut it. It is time we let sleeping dogs lie. Stop taking direction from recollections of times that did not achieve the results we sought. Time to do things a new way, no matter how scary and uncomfortable that makes us feel in the moment.
Step 1: Acknowledge You Are Living in the Past
The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have one. Realizing that you are allowing your past thoughts and feeling drive the decisions you make today is the beginning step to changing the behavior.
We need to identify the slumbering beasts that like to torment our minds. Try this exercise: take a few moments to sit quietly with a pen and journal or notebook (napkins work too). Write down all the past thoughts that often pop up and plague your brain. Do not overthink this! You do not need to write like Shakespeare. Just speak from the heart whatever pops up in the head.
Step 2: Decide to Let it Go
Now that we have identified those irritating mind fucks, we are going to do something so simple yet not at all easy. We are going to LET THEM GO!
What? Really?! Just like that? You must be mad!
Serious as a heart attack. You are going to make a CHOICE to let those useless, belligerent, unnerving, narcissistic bastards go.
Hanging onto limiting beliefs, old underserving values, unhealthy habits will only lead to one result. The same non-result you are currently achieving in your life right now. To alter your future, we cannot keep thinking the same way. We much CHOOSE a new way to think.
Step 3: Create a New Mind Map
To chart a new course, we need to create a new map. A mind map that is. A new draft for how we are going to choose to think and feel. Our thoughts create feelings. Feelings drive our actions, and actions create our results. It is that simple. But as stated before, simple is not necessarily easy.
So, let us begin at the beginning. We are going to baby step our way to better thinking, feeling, and living! It all starts by creating a new thought for each old shitty thought you wrote down in step 1.
A few examples to help kick start your new thought formation venture.
Old thought: Damn, I have gained twenty pounds, I look hideous!
New thought: I have gained some weight but hell, this strong body birthed three bouncing babies and can still bench press a 40lbs box of kitty litter and curl two gallons of milk. I am a beast!
Old thought: People don’t like me; they think I am loud and stupid.
New thought: Truth be told, I am loud, but I am not stupid, and I am pretty funny to boot.
Get the gist? Your new thoughts do not have to be all Pollyanna. They need to be believable to you. Its ok if you start with a more neutral statement of fact, then as you grow in your though development, you can create better more positive thoughts.
Simple, but Not Easy
I am under no delusion that this is easy. The steps are simple. But the work is hard. Change is hard, but the reward makes everything worth the while. Making a choice to change your thinking can change anything and everything in your life. Better attitude, better relationships, better job satisfaction, healthier habits…the sky is the limit.
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The Mental Health Coach