"Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power." - Lao Tzu
In order to master yourself, you have to be able to master your thoughts.
But sometimes it's not so much about changing a thought as much as it is about changing and redefining the impact that thought has on you.
Let me explain.
So many of our thoughts are automatic and will enter into our mind whether we want them to or not. Especially the painful and negative ones. Those seem to have an EZPass to our mind.
But what you do with those thoughts once they find their way in doesn't have to be automatic. The problem is, most people's response to unwanted thoughts ends up becoming automatic because they don't realize that they can actually control it or change it and with enough repetition of the same response, it becomes practiced and habitual and eventually - automatic.
That's why consistently strengthening and mastering your mindset is so important.
A well developed mindset lets you control how you react and respond to your thoughts. And the more you can control your reaction and your response, the greater your ability to regulate your emotions.
And the more you are able to master your mindset, the more you learn to master yourself. And once you learn to truly master yourself - it's only a matter of time before you master life itself. Because when you change how you think, you change how you show up which then changes what you then do. And when you change what you do, your results will change also.
If you're not sure where to begin when it comes to stopping or changing your responses to automatic negative thoughts, here's some tips that may help:
1️⃣ Become familiar with your negative thought patterns: Awareness really is the first step to creating almost every change in life. Start by paying attention to your thoughts and notice what situation or triggers seem to lead to the negative ones making an appearance.
2️⃣ Monitor your response. Notice if you have any automatic responses that seem to take over the minute the thoughts come in. That's your practiced response - and the best way to replace an automatic, practiced response you don't want to have is by deliberately and intentionally replacing it with the one you want to have instead. Even if the automatic one makes its way in first, follow it up with your new one with one and keep doing that until the new one becomes the more practiced response.
3️⃣ Limit your exposure to situations and triggers for negative thoughts. We may not be able to completely eliminate or even control every situation or trigger that leads to negative thoughts, but we can try to reduce our exposure to them.
4️⃣ Incorporate small things throughout your day that bring you joy and make you smile. Whether it's a quick walk outside, taking 5 minutes to stop by your work bestie's office or giving your kids or dogs a hug. Make time for it. The more positive events you log each day, the less impact the negative or triggering ones will have on our thoughts.
Changing automatic responses to negative thoughts can take time and practice so be patient with yourself and don't forget to celebrate small wins along the way.