How To Control Your Thoughts

How to control your thoughts
Do you know how to control your thoughts? What about not letting your thoughts control you? Learn how to control your negative thinking or bad thoughts

How to Control Your Thoughts

Controlling someone else’s mind may be a superpower but controlling your own mind doesn’t have to be.

In our article, you’ll learn the main thought patterns that create a destructive mind and the 4 questions to overcome it.

Your mind is one of the most powerful tools you have to live a good life.

If you don’t know how or don’t think you have the power to change it, it can be the most destructive force in your life.

We want to teach you how to be able to control your thoughts.

If you can’t control your thoughts, It can ruin your work and personal relationships, cause problems at work, or create an unhappy or unsatisfied life.

Not being controlled by your thoughts or even better – being able to control your thoughts is an important step in being content with life.

Your perception of life is created by your mind, your thoughts, your past experiences, and your beliefs.

Your thoughts dictate your perception of life. Your perception of life is your reality.

These simple questions can drastically change your life, but it’s not always enough to overcome the challenges inside your mind. 

We’ve talked about the best supplements for anxietythe benefits of gratitude, or if you have high-functioning anxiety – we highly suggest that you look into those.

Going to see a counsellor to learn specific techniques is extremely beneficial as well. If you can’t afford or are ashamed to get help (you shouldn’t be), you can always go to Udemy and find a course on CBT or neuro-linguistic programming techniques.

We know the benefit of talk therapy and suggest you read our Review of BetterHelp. BetterHelp is an online platform that connects you to qualified therapists throughout the world finding the best one for you. 

We also know that diet affects our mental health, working with a holistic nutritionist can help reduce your negative thoughts.

We have a lot going on in our minds all day, every day.

Researchers at Cornell University estimate we make 226.7 decisions each day on food alone.

As your level of responsibility increases, so does the multitude of choices you have to make. It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. 

There’s a reason I limit the number of clothing choices I wear each day.

It’s not because it’s impossible to find clothes that don’t have at least 1 stain on them from food, it’s because I make a lot of decisions already as an entrepreneur.

You see the top CEO of major companies wearing the same clothes every day.

Mark Zuckerberg wears the same shirt. Steve Jobs had a black turtle neck. Barack Obama only has a few suits to choose from. 

 In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article summarizing research on human thoughts per day. They found that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. 

Take the 60,000 thoughts a day with a bit of grain of salt as I wasn’t able to find any specific studies on that amount of thoughts per day.

This really depends on your definition of thought. If we consider a thought to be anything produced by brain activity then clear decisions are thoughts. 

You could consider them separately because it reflects what we know about the brain regions that independently produce planned actions and decisions.

Because they can be functionally separate

Of those thousands of thoughts, 80% were negative, and 95% were exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.

We can see that one of the tendencies of the mind is to focus on the negative and ‘play the same songs’ over and over again.

I know it did for me…

Our brains are wired for protection and not happiness. It’s a survival mechanism that keeps us safe and alive. 

Though the word “safe” isn’t what you’d think, it really just means “alive”. It doesn’t mean being happy, thriving, or enjoying life. It protects us from the unknown, the scariest thing that we know of. 

A study in 2005 from Cornell University found that 85% of what we worry about never happens. With 15% of the worries that did happen, 79% of the subjects found that either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or that the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning.

This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.

Most of our worries don’t have a basis to hold onto and result from the unfounded pessimistic perception of things. 

The stress that worry creates can cause serious problems though. 

The stress hormones that worry dumps into your brain have been linked to shrinking brain masslowering your IQ, being prone to heart disease, cancer and premature ageing, predicting marital problems, family dysfunction and clinical depression, IBS and digestive problems, and making seniors more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but our thoughts about it.

97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions. Learn how to control your thoughts

Controlling Your Thoughts

97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions. Learn how to control your thoughts

To control our thoughts, we first must recognize what they are.

Before we get there, we have to talk about one major takeaway about our thoughts.

I can’t emphasize that enough.

Just because we have a thought, doesn’t mean it’s true.

It doesn’t matter how many times we think it or even hear from our “friends and family”.

Doctor Daniel Amen coined the term “ANT”, automatic negative thoughts.

There are 9 main different ways our thoughts lie to us and make situations worse than they are.

You can view these types of thoughts as a type of ant and you can take the power away from them that they have on you.

Most Common Type Of Negative Thinking

How to control your thoughts

All or nothing

These are the negative thoughts that infest your brain when you think everything is good or all bad. It is the same as black or white thinking. Examples of this… Sticking to an exercise plan for a month, you think you’re the most disciplined person on the planet. If you miss a day at the gym though, you have no discipline and give up and go back to being a couch potato. A better approach is to acknowledge that you didn’t do your daily workout and then get back on track the following day. One slip up doesn’t mean you should give up entirely.

Can you control your thoughts

The “Always” Thinking Or Thinker

This is when your thinking is overgeneralized. You use words such as always, never, every time, or everyone. Thoughts that include “I will never lose weight”, “I have always been this way”, “I always had a sweet tooth – I will never be able to stop eating candy or chocolate”. This kind of thinking makes you feel like you are doomed to fail at eating right, staying healthy, or even applying for a job (I will never get that job). This is the thinking that gives you no control over your actions or behaviours.

How to control thoughts

Focusing On The Negative “Negative Nancy”

This negative thought makes you see only the negative aspects of your situation, even when there are positives. Examples of those include... “I know I’ve lost 10 pounds already, but I wanted to lose 15… so I’ve failed”. Focusing on the negative makes you more inclined to give up on your efforts. Looking for the positive in situations and people can change your life. “Damn! I’ve lost 10 pounds. I’m on my way to my goal of 15 pounds.” This encourages you to keep up the good work, keeps the ball rolling with momentum, and you feel good about yourself

How to stop negative thoughts

Thinking With Your Feelings

Our feelings don’t necessarily mean anything. They merely mean whatever you allow them to mean. “I feel like my skin is never going to clear up.” These types of negative thoughts happen when you have a feeling about something and you assume it’s correct… so you never question it. Feelings lie and can be wrong too. Look for the evidence to question that thought. In this example, you can schedule an appointment with a dermatologist or a nutritionist to see what you can do to improve your skin. PS diet is going to be a huge player in improving your skin. That’s how I improved mine after trying so many medications and topicals but no results

How to stop thoughts from controlling you

Guilt Beating “The Guilty Party”

Don’t let these guilty thoughts take over your life.
The words that appear often in this type of negative thinking are “should”, “must”, “ought to”, and “have to”. These type of phrases involves using excessive guilt to control behaviour. When we are pushed to doing things aka “have to”, our natural tendency is to fight back. You “get to” do things – you get to exercise, you get to learn to become smart, and you get to eat what you want. Not all guilt is created equal though. There’s “good” guilt and then there’s “bad” but it varies much on the situation and person.

Daniel amen controlling your thoughts

Fortune-Telling “The Fortune Teller”

You predict the worst possible outcome to a situation with little or no evidence for it.
Predicting the worst even though you don’t know what will happen is the hallmark of the fortune teller’s negative thought. Examples include... “I just had a biopsy, It’s probably going to be cancer”. Nobody is safe from fortune-telling negative thoughts.

Why do you have bad thoughts?

Labelling “The Labeller”

You attach a negative label to yourself or someone else. When you call yourself, someone else, or use negative terms to describe them. A lot of us do this regularly. You may have used one of the following at some point in your life or use it often; “I’m a loser”; “I’m a failure”; or “I’m lazy.” I feel like I’m a parent talking to a child with this one – “it’s not nice calling someone else a bad name”. The problem with calling yourself names is that it takes away from your actions and behaviours. There’s no point in trying to change with this defeatist attitude. These negative thoughts may be the worst of the bunch, they can sting.

The most common types of negative thoughts

Mind Reading “The Mind Reader”

When you think that you know what somebody else is thinking even though they have not told you directly, and you have not asked them, you’re mind-reading. Listen carefully to the other person before trying to predict what they have to say and ask them.

How to control your thoughts

Blame “It’s Not Me…”

You blame someone else for your problems and don’t take responsibility. Of all of the negative thoughts, this one may be the worst one of them all. Blaming others for your problems and not taking responsibility for your successes and failures is toxic thinking. It’s also in line with the “victim mindset” An example... “It’s your fault I can’t eat healthy because you always have treats in the house” or “My partner can’t come to the gym, so I can’t exercise today.” This type of thought pattern makes you the victim and doesn’t give you the power to change. You’re allowed to take blame and responsibility for your actions… and still, be a good person. It’s okay to fail, fuck something up, or have a bad day. Once you quit blaming others for your success and failures, you’ll open up your life to new and amazing opportunities.

The Four Questions To Stop Negative Thoughts

Use these questions when you get a negative thought that you don’t want to repeat in your head.

  1. Is It True?
  2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?
  3. How Do I react when I think this way? What happens when I believe this thought?
  4. Who would I be without this thought?

These are the main questions that I ask myself so I’m able to control my thoughts and not to have a physical reaction to them.

These physical reactions included a drop in the stomach, butterflies (not the good kind), feeling faint, uncomfortable in whatever position I was in, shaking(whole body or hands) or a wave throughout my body.

Now, I don’t have to go through all the questions.

To be honest, I rarely go past question 2.

If you want to maximize these questions when you use them, talk to yourself in 3rd person.

A study found that the simple act of silently talking to yourself in the third person during stressful times may help you control emotions without any additional mental effort than what you would use for first-person self-talk — the way people normally talk to themselves.

Question 1: Is it true?

This is one of the best questions that I ask myself, it’s saved me a lot of headaches.

I’ve always been able to just think this or verbalize it out loud.

If that doesn’t work for you, get a piece of paper and write it down.

Question 2: Can I absolutely know it's true?

This is an opportunity to open your mind and go deeper into the unknown.

Your brain may be telling you yes in the first question but this allows you to find answers to contradict what you were thinking.

Think hard and long about this if you have to.

Question 3: How Do I react when I think this way? What happens when I believe this thought?

This is one of the best questions that I ask myself, it’s saved me a lot of headaches.

I’ve always been able to just think this or verbalize it out loud.

If that doesn’t work for you, get a piece of paper and write it down.

Question 4: Who would I be without this thought?

Imagine yourself in the presence of that person (or in that situation), without believing the thought. 

  • How would your life be different if you didn’t have the ability to even think about the stressful thought?
  • How would you feel? 
  • Which do you prefer—life with or without the thought? Which feels kinder, more peaceful?

If that doesn’t work for you, get a piece of paper and write it down.

Conclusion

If you struggle with your thoughts, there are 4 important questions to ask - here's the guide on how to do it

You have the information to start making a change, will you give yourself the opportunity?

There’s going to be a learner curve once you start changing your thoughts, be compassionate to yourself.

You’re learning something new and you’re not going to be perfect.

When I started to take back my mind, I wasn’t perfect.

You’re probably still going to have those thoughts, even though you don’t want to. Once you have those thoughts, I want you to pause, and ask yourself those questions and talk to yourself in the third person. You can pause by saying stop, taking a big breathe, or changing your location.

For me, during tougher times, I would still get a physical response inside my body. It would include the body shakes, feelings faint, extreme butterflies, and a wave flowing through my body.

What I would do is take a breathe, feel what is happening (as uncomfortable as it was), and start to go through these questions.

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