Here’s a bit of math to start off this blog:
The science says, and don’t ask me how they know, that, on an average day we “think” around 60’000 individual thoughts (all approximations, you understand).
Of those, 95% (57’000) are the same thoughts we had yesterday, and of those, around 80% (45’600) will be negative thoughts.
Logically, of the 5% of new thoughts, 80% will also be negative (2’400), giving us a grand total of 48’000 negative thoughts per day!
Now, that was probably very useful from the beginning of our humanoid existence up until the last 100 years or so or if you happened to have been so unfortunate to be caught up in a war zone, but as far as getting things done and being proactive it’s not so useful.
Do any of these phrases ring a bell?
“I can’t”, “It won’t work”, “It’s too hard”, “People will laugh at me if I do”, “They’ll look down at me”, “I’ll screw up, as well as the good-old “What if’s”.
These were just a few that I could remember within seconds; demoralizing, crippling, stop-you-in-your tracks sort of stuff, isn’t it?
How many of them ring true to you? Can you think of a few more, even a dozen more maybe?
But what is this really? What are these killer phrases, and where do they come from? Let’s have a look.
Firstly, how often would you say that you utter these or other similar beauties? Weekly? Daily? Many times per day? All the damned time? The first two of these we could call an Affirmation. The last two are getting into the Incantation category especially if we add emotion and physicality into the mix, as is very often the case.
Just for clarity, I’ll define Affirmation as: a word or phrase that, when repeatedly uttered along with intention (good or bad), has the potential to help one towards the stated goal.
An Incantations is basically an Affirmation with the addition of strong emotion, deep breathing, and a healthy portion of physicality (pumping one’s fists, dancing /using the body) while repeating the word/phrase.
If we take a phrase like “I’ll never be able to do this” and if we were to repeat it in a robotic tone, taking in virtually no air between each repetition whilst watching our favorite gardening show, the effect it would have on us would be minuscule to non-existent.
However, if we take the same phrase, say it in a stage-voice with lots of air, lots of volume, and link it to whatever we are currently doing, the result will start to look a fair bit different.
In using more air, getting a bit physical and connecting the words to something relevant those words are going to start digging into the body and they’re going to start meaning something.
If we now add a healthy dose of emotion into the mix, getting into those words, grimace, put some
em-PHA-sis in there; “I’ll NEVER be able to do this!!!” and maybe stamp the foot and scowl for good measure and walk around in circles, we now have a full-blown Incantation on our hands. This is when the phrase gets under our skin, into our mind and, with enough repetition, becomes a Belief.
Once this belief gets a hold of our mind, it has the potential to become part of our Identity-who we are.
The good news is, positive Affirmations and Incantations work the same way (examples to follow) But beware: the brain can sniff out phoney statements and things that we don’t, in our minds, really believe.
If you haven’t done the work, haven’t pulled out those 10 years’ worth of weeds, then you’re going to have trouble growing your prized tomatoes or roses or “whatevers” by simply repeating “there are no weeds, there are no weeds, there are no weeds!” because those strangled roots are just not going to believe you; they have the physical truth wrapped around them! Whatever we say to ourselves must be congruent with our deeply felt beliefs and the reality of the situation.
Change your circumstances or change your beliefs. Change your beliefs, change your Identity!
One way to rid ourselves of these ingrained beliefs; the things we constantly, subconsciously say to ourselves, is to monitor and regulate them.
If you were to carry a pocket-sized notebook for, say a week or even five days, with the writing implement of your choice and commit to noting every negative thought that you recognize (it’s going to be pretty difficult to get all of those 48’000!), after three or four days, have a look at what you’ve written.
Your notes could be about the body, digestion, food or drink choices, screw-ups at work, don’t like the way they’re doing”X”, how they’re dressed or statements such as “ah bugger, I did it again”, “I’ll never get this right”, “I’m such a f%*k-up”.
You get the idea. It doesn’t have to do with work or whatever you think the problem might be. Negativity is negativity and it can be all-pervasive when we don’t recognize it. So, write down everything you recognize as being negative.
Do any patterns start to emerge? How many repeat offenders are you clocking up? What’s slipping under the radar?
Once we have an idea when and where we are heading towards the “Dark Side” and start to notice more and more where these patterns occur we can think of words or phrases that can neutralize the negativity that pervades our non-thinking selves.
A good phrase to remember is “See things as they are, but never worse than they are.”
Here are some examples of everyday negative Affirmations and Incantations and possible neutralizers:
Somebody cuts you off in traffic and you say “%ç)*)*/*+*” )(/&%%ç%)**SOB)/…instead say ”Wow, I guess they’re having a really bad day, poor thing!” (Yes, it’s possible 😉
Ah bugger, I did it again! Instead say:
Next time I’ll do differently.
I’ll never get this right! Instead say:
What went wrong, what do I need to correct to make X work?
I’m such a f%*k-up! Instead say:
I’m fine. Better focus is all I need, and I can do this.
I’m sure you get the idea and can come up with more and better ideas when you reflect a little.
With some work and attention, you can notice and neutralize those useless thoughts.
Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (NOT Disney’s Jungle Book) got it right with this little ditty: