It’s Monday morning and you’ve just learned a meggga important potential investor is making a surprise visit…and you’ve been chosen to give the pitch. Which of these thoughts is more likely to run through your mind: “My boss chose me for a reason and I have all the tools I need to nail this pitch!” or “I was probably just the first person my boss saw, and now I’m gonna look like a total idiot in front an investor who probably won’t even like our product anyway.”?
If you’re like a lot of people in my community, the second thought sounds scarrrily familiar. And while no one is completely confident or positive 100% of the time, having these kinds of negative thoughts and beliefs on the regular can majorly get in the way of achieving that happy, fulfilled life I know you really want.
But here’s the thing about negative thoughts. They’re kinda like those moles in the whack-a-mole arcade game. No matter how many times you try to push them down, they always pop back up…
…unless, of course, you heal your negative thinking patterns for good. Which is what today’s blog post is allll about!
The Three Tools I Use to Change Negative Thinking
In fact, today, I’m sharing three different tools – mind, body and spirit – you can use to slay your negative thinking. What’s so great about this approach? Well, these tools are basically a mix-and-match do-it-yourself kit that lets you change your negative thoughts in the most effective way for you. For who you are. What your personality is like. How much time you have in the day. The list goes on and on.
Plus, whether you use just one of the tools or a combo of all three, I’m conssstantly amazed at how powerful they can be.
Take one of my past clients, for example. Her name was Janet, and she came to me because memories of being molested by a priest decades ago had turned her mind into a hamster wheel of negative thoughts, especially in light of the recent #MeToo movement. Every day, every moment, she’d have thoughts like: You’re dirty. You were responsible for what happened. Who could love you now? You don’t deserve anything good in your life and soooo much more negativity. Eventually, it became bad enough that she felt paralyzed by anxiety and totally isolated from the God she really wanted to believe in and love.
And then I worked with Janet on using these three tools to break free of those negative thoughts…and, well, you’re just going to have to keep reading to hear about her transformation!
And keep reading to see how you can find the exact same freedom, one tool at a time…
1. How to Change Negative Thinking Through the Mind
Now, we’ve all heard about how ammmmazing a good workout is for our body…but did you know that giving your mind a reflective workout is just as helpful when it comes to slaying those negative thoughts?
Of course, there are loooots of different ways you can do this, but I’m sharing my favorite five questions to ask yourself. Four of them are from Byron Katie’s “Four Questions” approach, but I’ve often found that people need to ask themselves one more littttttle question, which is starred in the list below.
Regardless of whether you answer four or five questions, your mental coffee date starts the same way: writing down whatever negative thoughts you’re dealing with lately – no matter how ugly they seem. Then, about each thought, ask yourself:
- Is it true? (Yes or no).
- Can I absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no).
- *Is there any evidence that the opposite is true?
- How do I react, or what happens, when I believe this thought?
- Who would I be without this thought?
“But Caitlin!” you might say. “I have noooo idea where I’d even start with answering these questions! And how can they even help me?!?”
What Working On Your Thoughts Really Looks Like
Well, let’s say you have a super supportive and thoughtful boyfriend that you’re heads over heels for…but every time he comes home late from work or mentions a woman you don’t know, one thought pops into your mind: He’s gonna cheat on me. And before you know it, you’re not sure he really loves you (even though he says he does all the time) and you’re toootally freaking out.
But now let’s say that you decide to give that thought a major reality check using those five reflective questions. Your thought process would probably look something like this:
- Is it true? No…
- Can I absolutely know that it’s true? Nooo…
- Is there any evidence that the opposite is true? Yes. He says he’s never cheated on me and never will. He says he loves me too much to hurt me that way. And all my friends say he’s crazy about me.
- How do I react, or what happens, when I believe this thought? I’m a total bitch. It makes me sad and angry and frustrated and anxious. And I push him away and treat him like shit. Which just makes him feel sad and frustrated, too.
- Who would I be without this thought? Happier. Freer. More confident. Maybe I’d even be more calm and loving when relationship problems do come up.
No matter what negative thought you’re trying to overcome, your answers will probably be pretty similar! After all, a lot of times, we’re paralyzed by “probably.” We don’t have proof that our boyfriend will cheat or that our coworkers hate us…but we tell ourselves, “It’s probably true.” Just like we often don’t realize how much that negative belief is realllly weighing us down until we compare how we act now with who we could be without that nasty thought getting in the way.
That’s the beauty of reflective questions like these. They give you the objectivity you need to get suuuuper real about your own thoughts and feelings. They help you realize that YOU control your thoughts and can pick which ones you choose to believe.
And, right now, it’s your turn to choose: Will you keep believing this thing that makes you feel shitty and act even worse? Or will you move your focus to a belief that will actually support the person you want to be?
I don’t know about you, but I’m alwaaaays going to go with option b.
And Janet made the same choice. Now, this is actually the second tool she used to stop her negative thinking. Because her trauma still felt so raw, we started out healing Janet’s negative thoughts with her body (more on that in point 2 below!). But once she felt safe enough to start voicing these icky feelings, we began challenging the negative beliefs her brain was playing on repeat.
Was Janet really to blame for what happened? Did that trauma mean she wasn’t worthy of falling in love or that all men were bad or that she couldn’t have a relationship with God? Her answers to all these questions were a big “No”…and reflecting on how these beliefs were holding her back gave Janet the courage to start embracing forgiveness, compassion, boundaries and everything else she needed to heal.
Just like reflecting on these questions can help you heal your own negative thoughts, too.
2. How to Change Negative Thinking With Yo’ Body
I get it. Like with Janet, sometimes thoughts are too raw or painful or anxious for us to find healing through them. If that sounds like you, you aren’t alone. And you can start healing your negative thinking through the body instead.
What the heck does that mean? It means you need to get out of your head. Don’t listen to your thoughts at all. Instead, drop down into your body and feel the raw sensation of whatever thoughts or feelings you’re having.
Why does this help? Let’s take anger, for example. When you get steam-pouring-out-of-your-ears angry, there’s a story you’re telling yourself in your head (about who did what that got you angry or what happened that was sooo unfair) and most of us get caught up in that story. But if you drop down into your body, you can focus on the feeling of anger exploding and pulsing through your legs, fingers, face and chest. You can stay present with that feeling using a simple mantra like, “This is anger. Here is my anger.” And when you stay present instead of avoiding or reacting to anger, you can feel when that anger leaves your body…and use that as a cue to release it from your mind, too.
Tools You Can Use to Physically “Feel” Your Emotions
Now, if mantras aren’t your thang, you can also use breathing to focus on the physical experience of whatever feeling you’re having. I also love kundalini yoga, which teaches you how to really feeeeel your emotions and move them through your body. And if you’re looking for the coconut oil of yoga poses when it comes to feeling powerful and in touch with allll sides of your emotional self, kaliasana is it. Traditionally, Kali is a Hindu goddess of destruction, but for many yogis nowadays, she’s the queen of spiritual and emotional freedom. Taking the kaliasana pose in yoga will help you embrace the truth of your emotions, no matter how “ugly” they might seem.
And if you need even more guidance on how to feel and release your emotions through the body, you can check out my Mind-Body Connection Masterclass! This one-hour workshop will walk you step-by-step through feeling at home in your body, listening to the messages it’s sending you and using them to feel and release whatever emotions come up. To learn more about the masterclass or start using and growing from it today, click here!
Whatever tool you use to feel your emotions through your body, the important thing is that you do feeeeel them – even the “hard” and “ugly” ones we usually try to avoid. And once you’re able to really sit with those negative feelings and release them from your body, you’ll be able to follow in Janet’s footsteps and work on releasing those thoughts from your mind, too.
3. How to Change Negative Thinking Through the Spirit
When’s the last time you looked out your car window and thought, “Damn. I live in an ammmazing world.”?
If it’s been awhile…here’s your reminder. Because using this tool to heal your negative thoughts starts with acknowledging that there are forces working in the world that are larger than you and beyond your understanding. And that in the same way you miraculously came into being and continue to breathe and survive every moment, more miracles can happen every single day.
And breaking free of your negative thoughts is one of them.
Now, I define a miracle the same way that Marianne Williamson does: a miracle is just a shift in your perspective. But in order for that shift to happen, you need to believe. You need to be aware of all the daily miracles in your life, from the change in seasons to the feeling of your lungs filling with oxygen.
Only then can you reach out to the universe about your negative thoughts. And that reaching out looks something like this:
Dear Forces Larger Than Myself (or God or Spirit or Universe or whatever you believe!),
I am ready to believe X. Please help me discover this to be true.
You just have to fill in the blank for whatever “X” is for you. For example: Dear God, I am ready to believe I am good enough. Please help me discover this to be true.
How to Talk to the Universe and Stop Negative Thinking
But don’t stop there! You don’t say hello to your bestie and then ghost her right after. You spend time with her talking about what’s happened in your week or what’s on your mind. To change your negative thinking with a spiritual approach, you need to treat the universe like your bestie. Pay attention to breadcrumbs of evidence that validate your desired belief, and tell the universe about them.
In the case of feeling like you’re enough, this could be something like, “Hey Universe. I’m good enough to be drinking this coffee and be one of the millions of people lucky enough to be alive” or “Hey Universe. Thanks for reminding me I am good enough to be a teacher every day and be trusted with the education of my students.”
Whether you’re aware of them or not, there are so many daily miracles that you’ll never run out of things to talk about with your Universe BFF. The most important thing is that you’re telling the universe you are insanely ready to think in this new, more positive way.
And it is crazzzy amazing how effective working with the universe can really be! Every day in my practice, I see HUGE breakthroughs. People say that they’re ready to believe this or that, and the next day, some dramatic piece of evidence appears that proves their belief right. Like wanting to believe they are enough and then suddenly getting a job offer from their dream company. Or wanting to believe they won’t be alone forever and then running into a childhood crush and exchanging digits.
And, of course, I can’t not mention Janet’s own breakthrough! Janet was reallly struggling to trust God in light of her childhood trauma, so she told the universe: “Hey God. I’m really ready to have a new perspective on what it means to be religious. Help me create that new perspective.” She repeated that mantra every day, and, sure enough, a lot of new people and experiences came into Janet’s life that made her feel suuuper connected to something larger than herself. And she was able to rediscover the spirituality she’d been missing for years.
So if you’ve been trying to adopt a new belief and feel like it’s soooo hard to stop your negative thinking on your own…you aren’t alone. The whooole freakin’ universe has your back. You just need to know how to ask it for help.
The Bottom Line of Changing Your Negative Thinking Through Body, Mind and Spirit
You can think of these three tools for healing your negative thoughts like three of your favorite accessories: no matter which one you choose, it will totallly enhance your outfit (AKA, your life!). But each one also complements the other, and for the biggest impact, you can eventually rock all three.
So if you’ve been struggling with negative beliefs and want to do something to stop them but have no idea where to start…guess what? There’s no wrong answer to this blog post! Whether you start with your body, mind or soul, you will be on the path to healing.
The only real “choice” you have to make is to start using one of these tools in your daily life.
So why not choose to start today?
Which of these tools do you think would be the most helpful place to start to heal your negative thoughts and beliefs? Tell me in the comments!