Re-framing your thoughts for mental well-being

We have around 60,000 thoughts a day and these are made up of internal conversations – a dialogue about what we like, what we don’t like, judgement of ourselves and others, what has happened, what’s about to happen. As a neuro-linguistic practitioner, this is what I focus on to facilitate lasting change to thought patterns and habits that can be quite destructive in their outcome; depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, relationship issues, chronic illness to name but a few.

This is because our thoughts shape our behaviours. We are influenced by that inner voice and considering that 10% is what happens to us and 90% is how we process this and choose to respond there is ample opportunity to develop strategies that turn out to be unhelpful.

So how do we change this, if we recognise that our thought processes are destructive and limiting us from having a happy, joyful, successful, peaceful life? Recognition and acceptance is the first step; congratulations if you have achieved this as many people never will. This is the pivotal and empowering place of consciously being able to make a change.

Begin to start to take these easy steps to change the way you think.

Like all thoughts, when you practice them they become easier and then habitual so start by each morning write down 5 things you are looking forward to or are great about your day, these can be really simple things.

This allows you to look forward to things. By doing this it also begins to refocus your thought processes to look for the good things. When practiced this becomes progressively easier as each day you will start to notice that you are looking for those things that are great each day.

Then, before you go to bed, write down 5 things that were great about the day, include those things that you achieved and felt good about. This allows you to sleep thinking positively about the day that you have just had. This alters your neuro-pathways; our minds are wired to make those things we do most often easier to access.

It's dark in the mornings and that makes me SAD

The above statement is a very powerful one, especially on a Monday morning, but why? Did you also know that it is also a disempowering and destructive statement?  This morning I woke up and did actually, momentarily, get grumpy because it was dark when my alarm went off. Why do we do this? 

There is no short answer to why we react this way to the Autumn nights drawing in, it's a mixture of chemical releases in the brain, our own preferences and emotions. The reason the statement is so powerful is that it is disempowering, what does that mean? We have no control over the weather, the seasons and yet we respond to them negatively. The nights draw in every Autumn regardless of what we want, mother nature does her own thing yet we still grump about it. The weather is one of those things that we truly have no influence or control over therefore allowing ourselves to be negative is only going to be detrimental to our mental wellbeing. However, we are the only ones that can influence our own thoughts, responses and emotions - we choose to respond to the inevitable in this way and that opens up the following statement of 'if we can choose to respond negatively then by default we can also choose to respond positively'.

The reason that this statement is destructive is that by saying that the season (nights getting longer and days getting shorter) makes me SAD we put ourselves in a passive, negative place. We limit ourselves. We then believe that it is something outside of us that is making us SAD. We believe that our mental wellbeing is linked to the seasons or even the weather - who has ever got cross because they've arranged a barbecue and it's rained! The seasons and the weather will continue to do what they do. You can't influence that. You can't change that. 

But what you can change is your response. I very quickly had a quiet word with myself as we all always have conversations with ourselves and I made a choice. I made a choice to enjoy the dawn arriving, the birds singing and I will, if it is still raining, find the time to enjoy the sound of the rain. I will also remember to retrieve the jumper I left on the clothes line outside last night as it is now wetter than it was when I out it out there :-)