I was asked to take an assessment at one point in my career life. To prepare for the assessment, I took a few practice tests and realised that my results were appalling. Immediately, the little critical voice in my head said, " I don't think I can pass the test, my capability is so low, I made careless mistakes, people will look down on me, I am worried ...." The more I talked to myself, the more I lost confidence about myself. This downward spiral thinking pattern affected my physiology as well. I kept worrying about the assessment day and wasn't able to concentrate myself on other things. I couldn't even sleep well the night before. I allowed myself to dwell on my "incapabilities" , let it dominate my thinking and negative emotions. As "expected", I failed the test.
All week I am frustrated and depressed because of the test when my focus could be expanded to what was going well in my life. Yes, the truth is that the test didn't go well. That's a simple fact. Fixing myself continuously on the situation is not constructive at all and is another way i can get trapped in negativity. Negative thinking makes me feel less confident and prevent me from achieving the things I want. I am tired of dealing with negative thinking!!! I want to feel more happy,
Is there a way to re-program the brain to generate positive thoughts as a "default" instead of negative thoughts? Yes. Here's my way of doing after learning about Neuro Linguistic Programming ( NLP)
Train your brain to let go of negative thoughts
Our nerve cells transmit signals to and from the brain. The pathway along which information travels through the nerve cells is a neural pathway. Our neural pathways are like superhighways that transmit messages. You travel the pathway many times and the pathway becomes more and more solid, For example, You may go to food over and over when you are bored forms a brain pathway. The hopeful fact, is that our brain is always changing and you can forge new pathways and create new thinking patterns.- By doing/thinking things differently and repeatedly.
So, how to create a new mindset, thought pattern. Take me as an example, the neural path I created about "capability" and "test" were: " I failed the test, I am incapable". This mind set need to be addressed to make a complete change, the old pathway need to be cleared away in order for me not to go down the downward spiral thinking pattern which affects how I value myself, my emotions and identity. I know that this mindset does not help me to achieve what I want.
As I recognised the need to shift, creating a new neural pathway for my brain to follow is necessary so that I can react differently to similar stimuli on a day to day basis. The new neural pathway I created then was : "My capability is not determined by the results of one time test or one incident. I have proven capabilities in my other areas. I belief I can do better with more preparation" . To make this new mindset stays as a "default" thinking pattern, I have to first catch negative thoughts as they arise before they go that automatic path. Interrupt them as they arise and turn them toward the new neural pathway I have created and keep on going in the right direction. This can be a new and unfamiliar neural pathway for us and can take some re-programming to set in concrete. But by doing it repeatedly, repeatedly and repeatedly will create a new habit. If the end result feels good, then chances are , that a new neural pathway will be created.
I can tell you from personal experience that it works. Even though my self-doubt does exist, it does not stay long. I am able to quickly replace it with thoughts about practical actions on how to deal with the situation instead of moaning and worrying.
By expanding and developing new neural pathways as much as possible, this gives us more to draw upon, and prevents us from becoming rigid in our personality. I am happy to know that transformation is always possible and that you can create new pathways whenever you are ready to make the shift. The more you practice the awareness of these thought patterns and what they are doing to you, the faster you'll begin to redirect yourself.