We are responsible for our thoughts. Each thought, every action, and feeling — we have control over how we think. Our minds are our jailor or our freedom.
Our thoughts and feelings determine our reactions and behaviors. Our responses, our beliefs, and our inner dialogue influence our path in life. Negative thoughts lead to negative emotions and actions. How often have we looked at ourselves and picked apart our appearance or decisions? More than likely, far too often. Can we change how we see ourselves, others, or our circumstances? Yes.
The Mental Prison of Negative Thoughts
What is a mental prison? Mental prisons are negative thoughts. Some people are addicted to negative feelings and thoughts. Often we are not aware of our negative thoughts because they are habitual. As a result, negative thinking becomes so much a part of our daily life, and we don’t see the damage it causes.
Whenever we think negative thoughts, we lock ourselves into a mental prison. Over time negative thinking becomes the standard. At one point or another, we are all prone to fear, anxiety, self-doubt, or pity. The trap we lay for ourselves is letting these thoughts take over our life. However, we can control our thoughts by identifying and addressing the causes of our negative thoughts.
Causes of Negative Thoughts
We adopt our family’s thought patterns because our family dynamics profoundly influence who we become. Often, we don’t stop to consider how the lessons we learned influence our interactions with ourselves and others.
Our friends or co-workers also influence our thinking. If our friends are habitual pessimists, we may be drawn into their cycle of cynicism. Perhaps the people we work with always find the worst in situations; after a while, we may start to view things as they do.
Social media outlets also influence our thoughts. Mainstream media outlets can also affect how we see the world, often without us noticing. We can become anxious, fearful, or develop angry thoughts that begin to mirror how we feel about others and ourselves.
Abandoning Negative Thoughts
To banish negative thoughts, we need to rethink how we think. Of course, we can feel anxious, fearful, or distressed throughout the day; that’s normal. However, how we train our thoughts or emotions makes the difference between staying in our mental prison and freeing ourselves.
Emile Coue, a French psychiatrist, founded a form of psychotherapy called autosuggestion. He believed we could train ourselves to change our thoughts. Anytime we catch ourselves thinking self-defeating thoughts, we can flip them to positive thoughts. The key to autosuggestion is taking control of how we feel. When we permit ourselves to cast doubt, lack confidence, or pessimism, our thoughts become our reality.
A few suggestions to free ourselves from our mental prison are:
- Pay attention to the circumstances or people we are around when we have negative thoughts
- Find a phrase that will stop negative thoughts
- When negative thoughts occur; flip those thoughts to positive thoughts
Learning how to change negative thoughts to positive ones will take time.
The Value of Self-Reflection
Since we are the ones who can control how we think, we can also control how we feel about ourselves. Say, for instance, we follow a plan to reach a goal, but we find ourselves stuck, and we can’t figure out how to move forward. Instead of falling into old thinking patterns, we can assess where we are and how we found ourselves in our current predicament. Did we follow old habits, or did we lose ourselves in the process? We can see the root cause of our mental prison through reflection.
Our ability to free ourselves from our mental prison lies in being honest with ourselves and integrating positive thinking into any situation. A few questions we can ask ourselves are:
- How did I get here? Perhaps how you responded to events led you to where you are. So, instead of giving up, look at how you responded and identify positive ways to respond.
- How do I feel? Every situation is a chance to learn how we think about the results of our actions.
- Did I learn anything from the situation? We can move forward and not repeat events if we can learn from the experience. Every problem or response is a learning event.
- Did I grow from the experience? Growth is a part of progress or change. When we grow, we expand our ability to react positively or make a decision.
Rediscovering Our Core Values
One of the essential elements of freeing ourselves from our mental prison is discovering or rediscovering our core values. Examining our values can put us back on the path of reaching our goals. Taking the time to reflect on our values, likes, and interests can guide us towards feeling positive about ourselves.
We become stuck on a project not because we aren’t competent but because we aren’t engaging in pleasurable activities. Perhaps we’re not stuck because of action but because of inaction. By releasing ourselves from situations that cause negative thoughts, we free ourselves by re-engaging in meaningful or fun activities. We can:
- Join an interest group
- Play sports
- Find a space where we can relax
Often, the act of engaging in what pleases us and connects us with our core values is the catalyst for finding a positive solution to our predicament.
We determine how we think. While taking control of our thoughts, determining how we feel, and changing our thought patterns can feel cliche, the reality is how we think determines how we act. Our environment, family, friends, and co-workers influence our behaviors and our thoughts. When we learn to recognize their influence, we can begin to make a change in our lives. Our commitment to replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts, creating a mantra, or assessing our thinking patterns allows us the opportunity to free ourselves from our mental prison. When we decide to watch how we think or reflect on our thoughts and their effect on our lives, we take the first step to mental freedom. Alta Centers believes that you can free yourself from negative thoughts. Our minds and thoughts are influential that guide us to success. We want to help you realize your potential. Call us at (888) 202-2583.