Why changing how you think will change how you feel
Have you ever noticed yourself going off into a day dream?
Your mind has wondered off down a path and before you know it you’ve created a long elaborated story in your mind? Then your awareness kicks in and you notice you’re somewhere else and you snap back to reality. But the content of this story has left you feeling a bit annoyed. Because it was a story about something that you weren’t happy with. Maybe a family member, friend or colleague said something that got under your skin and for whatever reason, you can’t let it go. And you start to get annoyed just thinking about it. And this annoyance even leads to a bit of anger as you revisit the details of what happened. The only thing is though, this story isn’t REAL anymore. It’s actually happened in the PAST, but our mind isn’t seeing this distinction. It’s reacting the same way as if it was happening there and then in that moment. So just by thinking about this event, you’re feeling emotions about something that is no longer in the here and now. The stimulus has gone away, but our mind isn’t seeing this. It’s stuck in the story. And you’re now feeling negative emotions because of it. Conversely, I bet you’ve had the experience where you’ve received some good news. You just heard back on that job you’ve been waiting on and you’ve been successful. How do you feel? Elated, excited, on top of the world! And this probably lasts all day, even the next day, maybe even for a few days! What’s happened here? You’ve experienced two different situations and simply by thinking about them, you’re feeling happy or sad. Positive or negative. Your mind has assigned meaning to these events (or triggers) and decided they were good or bad, right or wrong. From there, you are experiencing a set of related emotions based simply on the meaning that your mind has assigned to these triggers. And when you recall these triggers, you continue to feel the emotions long after the event itself has passed. Now the great news here is that you can actually change how you feel, by changing how you think. So if a negative emotion comes up, it’s probably associated with some negative thought. This is when you use your skill of AWARENESS to notice what’s happening and make an ACTIVE CHOICE to think about something different. Maybe reframe the situation, change your environment if you need to (like go for a walk around the block), anything to break your negative state of mind and get you out of the story. Because that’s all they are. Simply STORIES. Stories that we have created based on the stimulus or triggers (i.e. people, events etc) in our lives and our mind latches onto these for dear life as it desperately wants to assign meaning to them! In fact it is only this attachment to the stories that creates our suffering. Our attachment to these stories creates our negative emotions and self talk. So when you can use your awareness to see this, you then have a choice to change it!But if we aren’t aware, we won’t be able to change it. The next time you have a negative emotion that is causing an undesirable result i.e. you’re arguing with your partner, you get annoyed at your colleague at work etc… use your awareness to notice this is happening. Then say to yourself ‘change how you think, change how you feel. What positive thing can I think of right now that will help me to break this state of negativity?’I have practiced this regularly which is why I know it works! You will get to a point where your awareness kicks in much faster, seeing exactly what’s going on and you won’t need to say this to yourself anymore.
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