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Top tips for changing negative thinking

Article Number Two in our 'Think Yourself Sassy' series

We ended the last article with:

Remember, a thought is just a neural connection. Change the thought, change the neural connection, change the feeling.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? The trouble is that rewiring your brain is like rewiring your house – it takes:

  • Analysis to detect the faults

  • Planning to define the best wiring for your house (read brain)

  • Effort to put all those wires and connections in place

  • Maintenance to keep your system working well

Last article asked you to start the analysis by listing all the negative thoughts which put you into a negative spin.

Common thoughts after 45 are:

  • I am too old to do x

  • I am less attractive than I was

  • I am invisible

  • I have no purpose now the kids are gone

  • Everything seems to take more effort

Like all thoughts, when they are used often enough they hard wire and your brain believes them. If you tell yourself often enough that you are less attractive, then the brain sees only that in the mirror. If you keep saying you are weary, your muscles will fall in line and ache. The mind body connection is a powerful mechanism… and it works both negatively and positively. If your habit is negative, then, Sassista, you are thinking yourself into misery and your brain will only pick up evidence to support that bleak perception.

So, you need to go into step two of the analysis.

Take each thought and challenge it with the following:

  1. Why? Why are you holding that thought? What facts support it?

  2. What? What purpose does that thought have? Does it protect you from taking a risk? Does it give you an excuse? Does it keep you from the effort of change?

  3. When? When did you decide to have that thought? When did it become useful? When do you want to get rid of it?

  4. Who? Who gave you this thought? Who says you are too old, too late, and too purposeless? Or is it just you and you are ignoring the people and facts which contradict you?

  5. Wannabe? Yes we would all like to be young, beautiful, admired, impactful, and energetic and, frankly, perfect. But what in the world says that life is like that? Are you comparing yourself against unrealistic, unachievable, unbelievable criteria? If so, Sassista – get real.

There are some schools of thought which claim that we need to refocus our brain with constant positive affirmations. So, for example, if you feel unattractive, then you should stand the mirror every morning and say over and over ‘You are beautiful, you are beautiful, you are beautiful.’  Trouble is it doesn’t work. To go back to the rewiring analogy, it is like switching on a lamp over and over trying to make a broken bulb light up again.

Instead you have to change the bulb and make the wires work positively again. As with most things, actions speak louder than words and by doing something differently you will start to think differently. By taking positive action and changing the basis of the thought, the thought changes.

A few examples

Negative thought

Positive challenge and action

 

I am too old to start an exercise regime

 

Rubbish. What exercise will interest me? What can a start now which can be built up to a daily routine?

 

I am less attractive than I was

 

What are the best aspects of my appearance and how do I emphasis them?

What can I do to improve the aspects I do not like so much?

 

I have no purpose now the kids have gone

 

Rubbish, I have over twenty years of experience and wisdom of being a parent. How do I share it?

Or…

Yeay – I have the time to do the things I always said I had not time for. Then I will have interesting things to tell the kids when they come back with washing.

 

I don’t have a man

 

And I am not going to find one sitting in the room reading the web. Read the Staying Sassy series on dating after 45 and get going. He is out there somewhere!

 

Your next step: Take all your negative thoughts and analyse them with the 5 ‘W’s and then challenge them. Next phase is planning.


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