Change your thoughts
and you change your world.
– Norman Vincent Peale
This is a profound quote… but let’s be honest. It can be a little frustrating to hear (at least at first).
It’s like being told, “Make a million dollars, and your world will change!”
Umm, ok, I agree… but how do I do the first part?
Have you ever tried to change your thoughts or at least stop a particular thought from dominating your mind?
- Worried thoughts
- Angry thoughts
- Woe is me thoughts
- Give up thoughts
It seems impossible to change certain thoughts… but thankfully there is a technique that does work.
When you consistently apply this technique, everything changes for the good. I can say that from personal experience. 🙂
One Effective Technique to Change Your Thoughts
Neuroscience research tells us you can’t suppress your thoughts, or will them away. You can’t ignore them or pretend they aren’t there.
But, you can replace them.
Dr. James Gills accomplished the remarkable feat of completing two triathlons back to back. Most of the world, including me, couldn’t complete one triathlon, never mind two. Yet, Dr. James Gills, a man in his fifties, was able to complete a double triathlon six times.
When asked how he did it, he gave the best advice I’ve ever heard.
He said, “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself.”
He continued, “If I listen to myself I hear all the reasons why I should give up. I hear that I’m too tired, too old, too weak to make it.
“But if I talk to myself I can give myself the encouragement and words I need to hear to keep running and finish the race.”
It’s the same way with life.
Too often we listen to ourselves and hear all the complaints, self-doubt, fear, and negativity that lead to unhappiness, failure and unfulfilled goals.
But instead of listening to the negative we can choose to feed ourselves with the positive.
We can fuel up with words, thoughts, phrases, scripture and beliefs that give us the strength and power to overcome our challenges and create an extraordinary life, career and team.
It might seem small but when applied over time it actually makes a big difference.
Tested Wisdom of the Ages
The above advice is actually time-tested wisdom, discovered and taught thousands of years ago by various wise individuals, including the Apostle Paul (see Philippians 4:8).
As a recovering complainer, I have seen a remarkable turnaround in my life just by daily practicing this principle:
Talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself.
Talk to Yourself, but Avoid This Mistake
How you talk to yourself also can make a real difference.
Our brains will more readily believe the truth (and let go of the false notions) if you change one little word in how you speak to yourself.
One word? Yep.
Let me give you an example. You are facing a challenging assignment. The voice inside your head starts the negative chatter:
This is too hard.
I’m not going to be able to pull this together and turn this around.
I’ve never faced this kind of situation before.
Now, you can try to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones… but notice how the original voice often responds:
I can do this! That is soooo not true…
I can figure this out! I sincerely doubt it…
I have solved tough challenges before! Not like this one…
Changing one word (research reveals)
Here’s where one word makes a big difference. Research shows talking to yourself using the word “you” is more powerful than using the word “I”
Research confirms that when you talk to yourself in second person rather than first person, what you say is perceived as being more believable.
Why does this work? Well, you’ve likely experienced this before with a coach, a friend, a parent or a mentor. When you tell yourself “I am smart!” the doubting voice says “Yeah, right!”
But, if a trusted advisor or mentor tells you they think you are smart, you more readily receive that input. “You know, you’re right… I’ve faced difficult situations before, and have figured them out…”
Try it. Speak to yourself in an encouraging way, as you would to someone who is full of doubts, fears, or is tempted to take the easy road. You know they can do better than their doubts believe.
“You ARE bright (or creative, or resourceful, or resilient, etc.) enough to take this on.”
“You have faced tough situations before and you HAVE made it through. Remember the time…”
“It’ll be a challenge, sure. But you got this.”
Guess what? Sometimes that is all you need to hear to silence those doubting inner skeptics… and continue moving forward.
It’s Your Turn
Leave a comment below: What other “thought” quotes or techniques have you personally found useful?