Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Steven Aitchison of Change Your Thoughts.
We all know how destructive viruses on our computer can be and how important it is to have virus protection installed. However we’re not so careful when it comes to protecting our own minds with the, often devastating, effects our own thoughts can have on it.
The more serious of these thought viruses can lead to mental health problems such as loss of confidence, mild depression, self esteem issues, and a distorted perception of ourselves.
Science has shown that there is a link between physical and mental well being and positive attitudes in life. When you are happy and content with life and your thought processes are working correctly your brain releases endorphins which is your brains way of dealing with pain and making your feel happier. Your brain also releases something called Gamma Globulin to strengthen your immune system and another chemical called Interferon which combats viruses, infections and even cancer.
How then do we combat these thought viruses and protect our minds in order to stay healthy mentally and physically.
The answer could be ‘thought awareness’. This is when we recognize the thoughts that could lead to a downward spiral of negative emotion resulting in mental and physical problems, in effect viruses in our minds.
4 Ways to to control the viruses in your mind
1. Negative self talk.
When you recognize that you are talking to yourself in a negative way, recognize it for what it is; Your mind has tried to protect you from being hurt emotionally so starts talking to you in a negative way in order to protect your feelings.
For example; you want to start your own business and have a desire to work for yourself. At first you are really excited by the prospect, but immediately your mind start telling you it will be too hard, you will have to work very long hours, you will have to network, which you hate doing, you will have to do this and that and it will be way too hard.
As soon as you recognize these thoughts creeping in, it’s time to stop them dead in their tracks and carry on with your plans. Everything you don’t know yet is difficult simply because you don’t know it, but when you take steps towards knowing, it becomes less difficult and therefore easier.
When you recognize and stop the negative self talk your thoughts will then start naturally flowing to a positive mind state. Kind of like when you were a child and you believed you could do anything, only this time you have the tools to actually do anything you want.
2. Get rid of the past.
We tend to dwell on negative events from our past in an effort to understand why they happened. This can often occur with traumatic events from our past.
I had a client who had been trying to understand why a certain series of events had happened to her and she had been trying for 25 years and still getting herself upset every time she spoke about it. When I asked her why she was still trying to understand it when she had not been able to figure it out for the last 25 years, she looked at me with a blank stare. I then went on to advise her to acknowledge what had happened to her, not dismiss it, and put it on the shelf at the back of her mind. I advised her, at the moment, she was taking the item from the shelf of her mind every day and trying to analyze it when it would be better just to know it’s on the back shelf and get on with doing other things in her life. This was a turning point for her.
3. Use affirmations to train your mind.
The use of affirmations is well documented ever since the classic book: ‘Creative Visualization’ by Shakti Gawain back in 1978.
Affirmations are short phrases or sentences you repeat to yourself mentally in order to induce a certain state of mind. the classic one being:
‘Everyday in every way, I am getting better and better’ (Emile Coue).
By stating affirmations to yourself in a mantra like way and repeatedly over weeks, months and years your mind becomes trained to think in a different way. If you don’t think this works think about your fears for a second or two. people who are afraid of going into elevators have literally used affirmations and visualization to train their mind to produce a state of panic whenever they have to enter an elevator. So it is true in reverse. People who are confident have affirmed, at every opportunity, to tell their mind they are confident in every situation and confident enough to try new situations. We all use affirmations in our lives without ever knowing that we do so why not put affirmations to good use and consciously train your brain to a better way of thinking.
4. Open yourself to new experiences.
You are only on this earth for around 80 years, on average, if you are lucky, so why not try and experience as much as you can before you die. We all live in comfort zones and that’s great because comfort zones protect us to a degree. However comfort zones also stop us from learning about ourselves and growing as individuals.
We also we pass on our comfort zones to our children and we all want what’s best for our children so why not try to experience something totally new and step outside your comfort zone. Imagine what the world would have been like if the likes of Emily Panckhurst, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Alexander Graeme Bell had not stepped outside their comfort zone.
Apathy is found within the comfort zone, greatness lives outside of it.
Realize that every thought cannot be controlled
It would be naive to say that we can literally control all of our thoughts. It would be impossible to do this. Our aim is not to control our thoughts it is to steer them in the right direction. Right now your thoughts can be likened to 10,000 young children all running about, screaming and shouting in a very large playground somewhere, it would be impossible to control them, however imagine having a big purple dinosaur show up in the playground what do you think would happen. The kids would quieten down and start watching the show the big purple dinosaur was putting on.
So our aim here is not to control our thoughts but to control the big purple dinosaur and that can be done using a handful of techniques like the 4 techniques above.
Steven Aitchison writes about how to change your thoughts for a better life at his own blog: Change Your Thoughts. If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed, follow him on Twitter or read one of his most popular articles, 7 Irrational Thoughts That Disrupt Your Life.