There's this quote from Henry Ford that's become one of my favorites. He said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't...you're right!"
Our thoughts are powerful, and according to some studies, we have about 70,000 of them a day.
Interestingly enough we have two kinds of thoughts: Critical thinking and circular thinking.
Critical thinking is helpful because it leads to a solution.
Circular thinking... well, not so much.
As the name implies, circular thinking is a viscous cycle, The same thought goes around and around in your mind, with no end in sight... much like being on a hamster wheel. Exhausting, right?
All of us have gotten caught up in that nasty, energy draining cycle of negative thinking at some point. And for many of us it's automatic. Those thoughts that bounce around in our head, giving us nothing but worry, anxiety and headaches, often seem to be the loudest and most frequent thoughts we have.
Maybe you've heard them referred to as automatic negative thoughts. A.N.T.'s for short.
And like those pesky little insects, many times those A.N.T.'s come in quietly unnoticed and appear harmless at first... until the sheer amount of them completely upends a perfectly good picnic.
Have you had days like that? At surface level, things are going just fine. Your life looks good to others. YOU even look good... on the outside. But crawling around in your head are those incessant A.N.T.'s, and your perfectly good day is ruined.
Those negative thoughts squander our energy. They diminish our happiness and ultimately... they can erode our self-worth.
In order to protect our energy, happiness and self-worth, researchers estimate that it's necessary for the ratio of positive comments to negative comments to be at least 5 to 1.
5 positive comments to 1 negative comment.
And that includes both the outer AND inner dialogue we have with ourselves.
When I learned that, I knew I had some work to do.
Here's what I did for myself. And this is what I now teach to the women who work with me. It's simple enough in theory. Yet, it's in the practice of it, on a daily basis, in the heat of the moment when your A.N.T.'s are controlling the show, that these steps become challenging.
But it's there in the practice, over time, that you will find your repellent.
You can extinguish (ok... healthfully manage) your infestation of A.N.T.'s by intentionally practicing these 3 steps.
I know you CAN do it. And here's how you can begin.
3 Steps to Keep the A.N.T.'s Away From Your Picnic
1) NOTICE; Take note of how often you say negative things to yourself. I encourage my clients to recognize those unhelpful thoughts and keep track of how many come up during the day. You can do this simply by keeping tally on a Post-It note. Be diligent in your noticing for a full 24 hours. Do your best to be neutral in your noticing. This isn't the time to berate and judge yourself. (Seriously, self-flagellation never fixed anything.) Notice when these negative thoughts come up for you. And notice what your body is feeling in that moment. For a full day, just take note of how often and what triggered those A.N.T.'s appear.
2) BREAK THE CYCLE: And here's where you want to do more than just notice. When we want to break circular thinking, we've got to reframe those thoughts. Notice the negative thought, and ask yourself, "Is that absolutely true?" After you answer, ask yourself, "What else could be true?" Reframing is a way of taking the same situation, and adjusting our perception of it. It's much like reframing an old family picture by taking it out of it's tarnished, original frame, and putting the photo into a modern frame. It's the same photo, but the feel is very different, isn't it? Reframing your thoughts is seeing other perspectives. (If you're challenged with reframing, I'd love to help you with it. Reach out to me here, and let's talk.)
3) DO SOMETHING: When we change our place, we can change our state. Find something to do that takes your concentration, interest and focus away from your old, negative, viscous cycle of thoughts. Motion creates emotion. After you've caught the A.N.T. (step 1), and you've reframed it (step 2), you've got to DO something. What you do doesn't matter. But you must do something different than what you were engaged in when the negative thought first appeared. Get up from your desk. Go to the bathroom, Start a new project. Call a friend. Get out of the house. Take a walk outside. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. (maybe a podcast like Living Fully Balanced with Lisa... tee hee.)
If having strategies to increase your energy and happiness and decreasing your negative self-talk is helpful to you, I'd like you to download my free eBook , 7 Days to Loving Your Life Again". It's filled with tools and strategies designed to help you get off that hamster wheel. My goal is to sift through the clutter and provide you with simple, sustainable strategies that support balanced living... by YOUR definition
Like her clients, Lisa Bobyak works hard at making the best choices, with what she has, where she is. Although she’s not perfectly balanced all of the time, she knows first hand that the right information and support can mean the difference between feeling out of control and feeling healthy, happy and whole. Wish you knew how to get off your hamster wheel? Feel weighed down by oppressive negative self-talk? Ready to trade in your "stress bunny" ways for something that gives you the productivity you need AND the energy you want? Check out the people who took the first step and contacted Lisa, and now are feeling less stressed and more energetic. Want to learn more about her services, or hear the latest radio episode of Living Fully Balanced with Lisa? Or maybe you'd just like to check out what’s happening on her Facebook page. Go for it. And when you're ready to talk with Lisa, get on her schedule, and start living fully balanced... because running on empty doesn't have to be your norm.