After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I’m become more intrigued with the human mind. I want to know what causes people to view external situations differently. For example, two people can be in the same exact situation as each other and have a completely different perspective on it. One will view it as a positive learning experience, and the other completely opposite—as something negative. Here’s what’s even more intriguing…
If you view it positively, you’ll attract the same kind of energy your way, allowing you to overcome adversity with less of an impact on your mind. However, if you view it negatively, you’ll face a different kind of energy; one which holds you back, causing anxiety and stress. I believe this is what leads to low productivity, depression, low self-esteem, and poor confidence. How do I know this?
Because this was the mentality I had in my early teens and after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was a very negative person; this didn’t help me throughout life. This mindset would hold me back from conquering my goals, and it was a mission getting through the day. In other words, I was miserable.
Around 7 years ago, I became fascinated with personal transformation after reading Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. It’s all about transformation and how humans have the power to reshape every aspect of their lives. You have the power to retrain your brain to block negative patterns of thought. The best thing I learned was that everyone has the power to do this through discipline and repetition. You see, the secret to shifting your thought patterns requires three steps:
1) Watch the Negative Thought as It Enters Your Mind
2) Break it Down, and Find an Alternative Meaning
3) Reinforce Through Repetition
As time goes on and with experience, you’ll have a database of alternative meanings when you’re in the same situation again. I know, to many of you, this sounds impossible, but what do you think the 10-Day Mental Diet is all about? It’s essentially a systematic approach to understand your thoughts, and not dwelling on them for more than a minute while coming up with more positive alternatives.
Step 1 – Watch Thoughts Enter Your Mind
Positive and negative thoughts continuously enter your mind throughout the day. With so much going on in your life, it’s amazing how your thought process has become automated. This automation is because of all the experiences you’ve gained throughout life. Whenever, you find yourself in a familiar situation, the first thought entering your mind is of your previous experience here. If you’ve had a positive experience, you’ll have positive thoughts. But if you’ve had a negative experience, you’ll have negative thoughts. Here’s where the trouble starts to happen…
Positive thoughts are fine because they create happy feelings without dragging you down. But negative thoughts have an opposite effect. They normally cause disappointment, stress and anxiety. Imagine going back to a place where you had your heart broken? Think about the feelings you’ll have going to the same place.
It’s at this point where you need to learn how to allow these feelings to enter naturally, dissect them, and come up with a positive alternative. Then, through repetition you can reprogram your mind to have the alternative thought instead of the negative. Check out what Anthony Robbins has said about the power of repetition:
“As you know from working out, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Only with continuous immersion, quality coaching, and consistent spaced repetition can you maximize your strength and achieve the results you desire.”- tonyrobbins.com
The same applies to all aspects of your life because when you continue to do things over again, you build a habit out of them. The more positive repetition, the more positive results, and vice versa. (I’ll be exploring the power of repetition in Step #3.) However…
Let’s put step #1 into action by following these simple rules:
a) Continue allowing every thought to enter your mind. This way you get a clear pattern of the destructive thoughts and how they make you feel. If you start to block them, you’ll get overwhelmed later because anything external can trigger the same thought pattern.
b) After a destructive negative thought enters your mind, you should separate yourself from the thought. A great way is to immediately ask a question about it. For example, what does this imply or mean?
By asking a question, you move the thought into neutral territory, and it no longer holds a clear definition. Here’s what many people don’t realize about destructive thoughts, and why they negatively influence your mood so quickly. If you let them run wild with the current destructive definition, they’ll eat your mind up; it’s like a chain reaction of negative thoughts. But, if you dissect them and put them into neutral ground by asking – what could this thought mean? You remove the negative definition from it, opening it up for further translation.
If you don’t believe me, then try it right now. Whatever thoughts are in your mind push them into neutral territory by asking – what does this mean?
That’s all for Step #1. In Step #2, we’ll explore awesome ways to break the negative thoughts down and find alternative meanings.
Step 2 – Break It Down and Find an Alternative Meaning
In the first step, we went through the process of allowing every thought to enter your mind and moving it into neutral ground by asking a powerful question, which keeps the thought open for an alternative meaning. It’s time to break it down and come up with alternative meanings, which you can use the next time you face the same situation.
As I skim threw the Bipolar Support Groups, I’ve noticed how we all share very common situations. For example, career, and relationship posts are very popular. I’ll use both as examples below. These are personal experiences I’ve faced.
Scenario #1 – (Personal Experience)
I applied for a job and never got it. I had my heart set on getting it because it would bring in much needed money.
- I’m not good enough.
- I lack skills.
- The person who got the job was better than me.
Alternative Positive Thoughts:
- There is something better out there for me.
- This is motivation for me to improve my skills, forcing me to grow as a person.
- Even the most successful people strike out. The key is to keep pushing forward.
- This is a great learning experience, and will only make me stronger.
- Maybe the person who did get the job is a better fit. He or she probably has more experience.
- I’m grateful for this learning experience. The interview process taught me a lot.
Scenario #2 – (Personal Experience)
I met a women at a party, and we exchanged numbers, but she didn’t respond to my text or call.
- I’m not attractive.
- She exchanged numbers to get rid of me because I was talking too much.
- I’m not good enough.
Alternative Positive Thoughts:
- She has a boyfriend so after giving me her number she felt bad about it.
- She met someone else more compatible.
- There are so many other women out there.
- This was a great learning experience.
- You win some, you lose some. It’s a part of life.
- Even the biggest celebrities strike out.
The two examples help you understand how to systematically take a thought and replace it with positive affirmations.
Here’s a quick exercise I want you to do before moving onto Step #3.
For the next two or three days, use the chart below to write down your negative thoughts and alternative positive replacements. Be sure to allow every single thought to enter your mind; then dissect the negative ones so you can come up with alternatives. By doing this exercise, you’ll have a great list of positive alternatives to use instead of the negative thoughts.
(Right click, then “Save Image As”)
Step 3 – Reinforce Through Repetition
The power of repetition should never be underestimated. One of the first things I learned in motivational books is how repetition can embed words and thoughts deep in the subconscious. The subconscious mind is continuously communicating with the conscious mind, providing us a definition and meaning to our interactions. The subconscious mind holds our current beliefs and habits. In other words, if you have negative beliefs within the subconscious, you’ll create exactly that sort of meaning to every action we encounter in this world. But, here’s where things can get very exciting. Your subconscious mind can be altered through repetition, changing how you view situations. Let’s explain this another way…
By taking a negative thought pattern, dissecting it, creating an alternative, more positive thought, and then practicing it through repetition, you can change what’s in your subconscious mind. As you do this with different negative situations throughout life, you come up with a positive alternative view the next time you encounter the same situation. Amazing right!
However, for this strategy to work, you must stop the negative thought before it takes over your mind. For this reason, I encourage all of you to start trying the 10-Day Mental Diet. This challenge transforms your mind by pushing you to spend no more than 1 minute on the problem so you can spend the rest of the time on the solution. You can also use the other method above in Step 1(b), which is to throw out a question the next time you are faced with a negative thought. This leaves the thought open for alternative meanings.
What’s the best way to reinforce positivity through repetition? Two ways:
1) When you’re encountered with a negative thought, do the above strategy to overcome it. After, write down what positive alternative you used, and repeat it 10 times every day.
2) Write down 10 positive affirmations that lighten up your day and make your feel great. Write down positive thoughts that motivate you and put a smile on your face. Repeat these 10 times a day.
I believe mental repetition can be compared to working out and fitness. When you first start lifting weights and doing cardio, you don’t have the physique to lift heavy and run a long distance. However, as you repeat the pattern of going to the gym and train your body, something magical happens. You have more energy, confidence, motivation, endurance, strength, and self-esteem.
The same concept can be applied to how mental repetition works. Overtime, your mind will develop the skills to endure, continually motivate, and crush negative thoughts.
As Anthony Robbins stated – “Repetition is the mother of skills.“
Use the chart below to writing ten positive thoughts to repeat every day.
(Right click, then “Save Image As”)
For years, I failed to understand the power of positivity and how it can transform your life. It’s helped me understand, manage, and push forward through some of my biggest struggles in life. For example, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder was probably the most devastating thing I had to face in life. There was this stigma surrounding bipolar which I fell victim to. For years, I felt I was limited, damaged goods, won’t be able to have a normal life, etc. This all changed after I decided to change my life and researched ways I could change my mindset for the better. I encourage all of you to make the decision right now to transform your lives. The second you decide you want better, you’ll automatically start moving in the right direction of positivity.