Restructuring our Thoughts
Science is catching up to the ancient understanding of how our thoughts can affect our health and wellbeing. The field of psychoneuroimmunology is verifying that perceived stress creates a low immunity and can lead to more stress and emotional disorders. A significant part of Cognitive Remodeling is about creating new thoughts that support our wellbeing and breaking down old ones tha no longer serve us.
The first step in the process is to recognize when we make a statement about ourselves or our lives that is negative, self-defeating, limiting, etc. The importance of recognizing these thoughts is to help us differentiate from thoughts based in unconditional love or from our ego which were constructed by our minds either as an attempt to protect us or because it is what we understood to be true from our upbringing.
Let’s look at the example statement: “Great opportunities never come up for me.” This is a limiting belief system and does not stem from unconditional love. Opportunities are all around us as long as we are open to them.
Now that we recognize negative statements we say to ourselves and others, what can we do to change them?
- Pause. It is important to capture the negative thought before we continue on with our conversation with ourselves or others so we can begin the process of clarification. Give yourself a moment to reflect on the statement utilizing these next few steps.
- Analyze. Now we need to ask ourselves some questions to determine if this is a true or false statement. Most often we assume it’s true because we have heard it from others and ourselves on a regular basis but this does not make it true. True statements are the ones that stem from unconditional love and these are going to be positive, supportive, expansive, and possible firm statements. Ask yourself questions like: “How does this make me feel?” “How does this help me to improve myself?” “Will I feel better about myself and my life if I continue to believe in that statement?”
- Verify. Once we have clarified our thoughts through our question asking and answering we can verify if the statement is factual or a story we have developed.
- Clarify. Depending on the intensity and the moment we recognize the negative thought Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or breathing may be used. EFT will be the most effective in knocking down our limiting beliefs but we may not always have the time in that moment or the situation may not be conducive to the deeper work. If this is the case take a couple of deep breaths to reset the body-mind-spirit connection before moving forward. It is important to create this space and clarity before rebuilding with positive affirmations so that our new thoughts have a place to reside.
- Rebuild. This is the time to rephrase our initial negative statement into a true, positive and supportive one. Utilizing our previous example we could now say “opportunities about for me.” This is crucial because the mind will want to fill the space we’ve created and if we do not replace with a more positive affirmation we will go back to what was there before.
These are the steps that I go through personally and daily. Some thoughts release and restructure more easily, and others that have been around longer tend to try and maintain their space in my mind. However, I know and accept that this is a process and the more I go through it the easier it is and the freer my spirit becomes.
Put this checklist somewhere you can refer to regularly and practice these steps daily. The more we practice the more the cognitive remodeling process can take hold.