Is it possible to control your thoughts? What can you do to prevent negative thoughts from taking root in your mind?
Your thoughts shape your reality. Thinking negative thoughts sends you down the spiral of further negativity. However, you have some control over what you think. No matter how dire your circumstances are, you can reframe your thoughts by exploring different interpretations of the situation.
With this in mind, here’s how to reframe your thoughts for more positivity.
Reframe Your Thoughts Until You Feel at Peace With the Situation
According to Byron Katie, the root cause of all mental negativity is not the negative experiences, but the thoughts we have about those experiences. Ultimately, only things that are meant to happen happen. And, anything that’s meant to happen is good. Therefore, everything that happens is good.
Further, she argues that there are three things you need to realize about negative thoughts:
- There isn’t any truth to them.
- They trigger negative feelings and behaviors that don’t serve you.
- There isn’t any good reason to continue thinking them.
Ultimately, these three realizations will help you see that it’s not the situation that’s upsetting you, but your thoughts about the situation. Once you’ve grasped this concept, work on reframing your thoughts until you can accept and feel at peace with your situation.
In her book Loving What Is, Katie explains how to reframe your thoughts for more positivity. The first step is to explore alternative interpretations of your situation. This will help you realize that there’s no single way to think and feel about your experiences—rather, you can always choose how to think and feel about what happens in your life.
She explains that the reason you feel emotional pain about your situation is that you’re choosing to think resistant thoughts about it. However, you can just as easily choose thoughts that inspire you to accept, and even love the situation exactly as it is—which, in turn, will encourage you to respond in ways that help you benefit from the situation.
|Can Your Thoughts Create Your Experiences?|
While many self-help authors mirror Katie’s view that your thoughts determine how you interpret, feel about, and respond to experiences, Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking) takes this idea one step further. He claims that your thoughts aren’t only a response to your experiences, but are also the cause of your experiences. He explains that your thoughts during an experience determine how you react to it. This reaction shapes how subsequent experiences play out—in other words, negative thoughts will multiply your negative experiences, while positive thoughts will produce positive experiences. Therefore, you should always remain conscious of how you choose to think.
Continuing with the unfinished chores and disrespectful children example, consider how your thoughts about the situation influence what happens next. When you resist the experience, you think that your children are trying to upset you—you feel wronged and react defensively or aggressively. The situation then turns to conflict and prevents you from finding a solution.
On the other hand, when you accept the experience for what it is—the chores haven’t been done—you’re able to acknowledge that your children might have other reasons for not getting them done. You don’t automatically assume that their behavior is a sign of disrespect and you find it easier to respond rationally. This way of thinking prevents tension and helps you work with your children to find a solution.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Loving What Is summary:
- How to investigate resistant thoughts that trigger emotional discomfort
- A step-by-step process to release resistant thoughts
- How to accept and feel at peace with yourself and others