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The Power of Repeated Thoughts

September 28, 2018 by  
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People commonly remark to themselves, or to other people, things like “I’m a real good people person,” or “You know, I’m not good with people. I guess I’m kind of anti-social.” Others say, “Hey, I’m really good at fixing things,” or “I sure am a poor public speaker, but I’m a very good writer.” How about you? What do you tell yourself and others that you are good at and things that you are not so good at?

This self-talk is a very powerful thing and it tends to make you much better at some things, but it also can reinforce negative ideas about your life and habits which can hurt you.

I’ve said for many years that I’m very good with numbers and that I am a good wordsmith but, when it comes to repairing or fixing things, ugh… I’m terrible. And for many years now I’ve said to myself and to others, “I’m really, really not physically flexible.” In fact, I can’t even touch the floor without bending my knees big time. But, a few weeks ago, I started thinking about the huge connection between the brain and the body and how my comments about my lack of flexibility was totally reinforcing that weakness. You see, by telling myself over and over again that I was not at all flexible, my body believed it, which wasn’t hard because I wasn’t doing anything to change it either. So, my body was just following the brain’s instructions.

It does surprise me that I didn’t have this wakeup call years ago. I just accepted having a stiff body as an unchangeable fact and by always saying that I was not flexible, I reinforced what my brain was telling my body.

So, having had my little epiphany, I decided to do something about it. I started a simple daily stretching routine and within just a few days I was delighted to see a slow but consistent improvement in my flexibility. Before my stretching program, if I had dropped something on the floor, I would ask my wonderful wife, Kimberly, it she’d pick it up and she always would. But now she doesn’t have to. Even though I’ve got a long way to go to be super flexible, I can see that it is going to happen, just a little bit at a time.

I’m not saying that we don’t each have some very natural talents and abilities but there is also a very strong connection between the brain and the body that can also affect our abilities. We need to remember that we can direct our thoughts to make changes and improvements in our body and in our life, changes that we may have thought were not possible. The bottom line is that our thoughts can reinforce good stuff in our lives as well as some bad stuff so we should pay attention to which kind of thoughts we keep repeating to ourselves and others.

Think about this and maybe experiment with ways to direct you and your body to change or improve. You might surprise yourself.

 

Just a Little ANT Spray

October 30, 2015 by  
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Last week I talked about those damn ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts) and how they can invade you and influence your body and your brain. Sometimes they come by the dozens or even hundreds and can ruin your hour, day or even your life.  So how does a person get rid of those ANT’s—what do we use for an ‘ANT’ spray? How do we program our brains to stop the ANT’s from marching one by one through our minds?

Here’s 3 ways to control those ANT’s, given to us by Dr. Daniel G. Amen.  He and others have discovered that just like negative thoughts that can go deep into the limbic system of the brain, happy thoughts have been shown to affect a person by “cooling of the deep limbic system”.

No. 1: When you have those ANT’s, try to quickly think happy thoughts that can push the negative ones out. “Every time you have a good thought, a happy thought, a hopeful thought or a kind thought, your brain releases chemicals that make your body feel good (and cools your deep limbic system),” says Dr. Amen.

No. 2.  Your thoughts are not always correct. “Your thoughts do not always tell the truth,” Dr. Amen again tells us. “You don’t have to believe every thought that goes through your head”. The lesson here is to challenge those negative thoughts that you at all suspect are not true.

No. 3.  Pay more attention to your thoughts. That is, be very aware of what your chatter box is saying, pay attention, and when they are negative, talk back to them.  To quote Amen, “If you can correct negative thoughts, you take away their power over you.”  He goes on to say, “One way to crush these ANT’s is to write them down and talk back to them.  When you write down negative thoughts and talk back to them you take away their power and help yourself feel better.”

Last night I had some very negative thoughts as I didn’t plan on staying the night in cold Idaho Falls, Idaho. I was visiting my brother and had the entire day planned out, but a minor car problem had made it impossible for me to drive home.  As a result, I was having an invasion of ANT’s. So I started talking to myself and changing those negative thoughts to “Hey, wait a minute. Now I can spend more time with my brother and his wife and talk about all the good memories of our childhood etc.” Wow, things started to change big time in my head. I took a long walk in the brisk night air and listened to the loud mooing of the cows and the strong field and farm aromas, staring into the beautiful sunset sky as I watched literally hundreds of geese flying overhead. My brain, my mood, my whole being was lifted so high I felt I was 50 years younger. It brought back so many fond childhood memories and I felt I was walking on air.  Talk about quickly killing thousands of ANT’s!

Even now, a day later, my body is still reaping the huge benefits of denying the negative thoughts and replacing them with positive brain activity. It’s not just a momentary thing that you change when you get rid of those ANTs, it’s can contribute to a whole better outlook on life.

 

 

Getting Back Those Sweet Dreams with P.A.s

April 18, 2014 by  
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So how well do you sleep at night these days?  Remember when you were a teenager—no problem sleeping then! You’d usually crash out as soon as your head hit the pillow. There was no waking  up in the middle of the night for unknown reasons, no worries keeping your brain from turning off, no waking up for a trip to the bathroom which also woke your worried mind. There was just deep wonderful uninterrupted sleep!  Boy, those were the days!

99% of my readers are definitely not teenagers so it’s likely that, like me, you have experienced many nights of restless sleep—lots of tossing and  turning and waking up worrying about some problem or unknown outcome. The good news is that you are not alone and there are things you can do to help reduce these disruptive moments.

When I wake up in the middle of the night my mind can so quickly go into a highly negative mode and I just lay there being a big time worry wart.  I have discovered that most of us humans, especially  as we age, have brains that seem to automatically lower our natural  mental defenses and logical mature thinking to a very weak state when we  are tired, hence the worried state of mind. To get  back to sleep one can try some of the old methods such as counting sheep but a much better method is to first work on changing that worried mental state. Once the worry is reduced, sleep will come much more readily. But how do you do that?

It’s actually quite simple. Turn the chatter filled with fear filled questions and negative thoughts into inner talk that is filled with positive, supportive statements. Use your P.A.s! PA’s (positive affirmations) can be repeated in your mind the same way those worries and doubts are being echoed over and over. Keeping your positive thoughts generalized and not at all focused on the situation that is worrying you will keep you from taking a “but what if?” detour. So you put aside thoughts of the things that are worrying you and say something like, “I feel relaxed and very, very sleepy,” over and over in your mind. Don’t let anything else creep back in. Repeat the PA and imagine how it feels to be that relaxed and sleep and pretty soon you will actually feel that way, your mind will agree that this is true and you’ll quickly be back in sleep mode. Try it.  It’s amazingly simple and effective!

There is more you can put into your arsenal to insure a good night’s sleep and a relaxed well-rested state of mind. We will go into another very effective method next week but in the meantime, sweet dreams!

Take Control of Your Internal Chatter

October 14, 2011 by  
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In my singles match against a strong player at the Huntsman World Senior Games this last week, I found my internal dialogue turning very negative and as it did, so did my game. I was playing terribly–double faults, mis-hits, into to the net, etc. I just stunk.

In the first tie breaker, I found myself down 4-2. It was then that I said to myself, “You’ve got to get positive here or you’re going to lose.” So I pushed the negative thoughts aside and, sure enough, I won the next 5 points and the first set. During the second set I consciously kept my internal chatter much more positive and as a result my game was also consistently better.

The way we talk to ourselves is so very important in everything we do in life. If you say to yourself just before going in front of a microphone, “I am not going to do well today”, your subconscious hears you and, yep, you’ll probably blow the presentation.

And it’s not just the negativity. It’s also the language we use. Studies have been done that show when, for instance, a tennis player says to themselves “I just can’t double fault”, a huge percentage of people will go ahead and double fault. This is because the mind sees the most descriptive part of that thought, the act of double faulting, and ends up subconsciously focusing on that potential, just as it does when you think negatively.

So be careful and pay attention to all that chatter inside your brain. When you’re in the moment, push the negative out and imagine only the positive.