Talking to yourself out loud is supposedly a sign of insanity but in the privacy of our own minds, we are talking to ourselves all the time. We tell ourselves off, we punish ourselves, we call ourselves stupid, we complain about other people – and this is deemed perfectly reasonable?
The nature of our self-talk has a tremendous impact on the way we feel about ourselves, so if you find yourself lacking self-belief and self-esteem, it could be due to the negative chitchat taking place in your mind.
Repetitive Thoughts Vs. Passing Thoughts
We tend to experience two types of thoughts:
Passing thoughts, which are pretty harmless. They often relate to the present moment and pop into our minds as quickly as they leave. Passing thoughts don’t linger quite like the other thoughts we have.
Repetitive thoughts, on the other hand, have nothing to do with what is happening right now, they often relate to the future or past, and are played in the mind over and over again, over a long period of time. Repetitive thoughts tend to be the culprit when it comes to anxiety, stress and worry.
Much of our thinking is uncontrolled. We don’t choose what to think, the thoughts choose us, and oftentimes our thoughts are not new. We tend to repeat the same thoughts for days, weeks, sometimes years.
Repetitive thoughts have no real purpose; they just divert our attention away from what is happening in the present moment but the aftereffects can be profoundly negative. Thoughts of a compulsive nature can limit our enjoyment of life and keep us stuck in the past.
Become the Watcher of Your Thoughts
The way to deal with repetitive thoughts doesn’t involve trying to stop thinking, because in doing so you would need to use thought. The solution lies in shifting from being overpowered by thoughts, to being aware of thoughts from an outside perspective.
From an early age you would have learnt to be ‘the thinker’, which is why it is important to acknowledge that shifting from the thinker to the watcher takes time and effort; it’s certainly not an overnight process for most people.
At first you might find it easier to enter this state when you are relaxed, although what you might experience is that thoughts slow down when you begin to observe, (they become almost shy). This isn’t unusual, and over time you will naturally catch the thoughts at play.
Be aware of any repetitive thoughts that you experience regularly, and notice the chaos they create without becoming too absorbed in the thought. Just silently observe and see the thoughts as a voice in your head; watch the words being spoken, as if by somebody else.
It’s important that you don’t judge any thoughts, or try to battle with them as this defeats the object; you are attempting to create peace and dissolve conflict, which cannot be achieved with a fight.
Focus on the Good Thoughts
Now that you have worked out how to observe your thoughts, it’s important to know what to do with them.
It is estimated that we each encounter around 60,000 thoughts a day. The problem isn’t necessarily related to the quantity of thoughts though, the issue is that we tend to give power to the wrong kind of thoughts.
Repetitive thoughts can be mind-capturing but it’s important not to pay too much attention to them; they can be extremely self-depleting and are often the cause of much of the worry we experience. The trick is to focus not on the negative thoughts, but on uplifting thoughts, the ones that make us feel good about who we are and where we are going.
Affirmations can be especially helpful in creating a new positive state of mind. You can read more about them and how they can be used to transform your self-beliefs by clicking here.
There’s nothing you can do to stop thinking altogether, and, besides, it wouldn’t be beneficial anyway; we rely heavily on thought when it comes to planning, organising and coming up with ideas, so they do play a useful role. But you can use your mind as a strong tool for self-growth to positively improve your life.
Free yourself from painful thoughts and step into the role of the watcher!
Stephanie is a professional writer, blogger and the co-founder of Soul Analyse.
While she always tries to live in the moment, she feels it's equally important to look back at past experiences with open eyes to connect the missing dots and work out what we can learn for the future. She uses writing as a way to share her story with others in the hope that her past experiences can help someone else moving forward. She's also keen to gain knowledge from others' experiences and believes we can learn a great deal from one another!