It's been estimated that we all have 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day — many of which are negative.
I am terrible at what I do. I'll never find love. I don't deserve to be happy. I can't.
But it's not just the thoughts by themselves that do the damage. If left unchallenged, thoughts create beliefs, which then create behaviors. A negative thought like I'm never going to be happy has a terrible way of making us stay unhappy. But we can say "no" to the naysayer.
If we turn around and face that thought, we can stop it right in its tracks and strip away its power over us. In fact, there are seven profound ways we can question our own thoughts, each one attacking them from a meaningful angle.
The next moment a bad thought pops up to wreak havoc on your plans and confidence, ask these seven questions to disarm it:
1. Says who?
Whenever a negative thought pops into your head, ask it, "Says who?" This question exposes a negative thought for exactly what it is: a doubt that can interrupt your life and harm your sense of self and well-being.
2. Have I heard someone say this thought before?
Ready for a revelation? Your thoughts may not even be your own! So many of the voices in our head are echoes of other people's words. We listened to a parent, spouse, or boss say negative things, and we took them on as our own. If this is the case, let it go.
3. Do I like this thought?
Go ahead and ask yourself, "Is this thought desirable or appealing?" "Does it give me a sense of possibility or joy?" If not, then ask yourself why you are thinking it. The old saying, "If you don't like what you're hearing, you don't have to listen" is the same with a negative thought.
4. Does this thought make me feel better?
Negative thoughts are like an in-house band of hecklers, tearing us down instead of cheering us on. They seep into our psyches, wreaking havoc on plans and dreams. Ask yourself if this thought is making you feel better or worse about yourself. If it doesn't enhance your self-esteem in any way, why are you thinking it?
5. Does this thought work for me?
Is this thought useful or productive for you? With this question, you can take a look at whether or not a thought supports your desires or goals. If you're trying to get in shape, a negative thought like, "I'm never going to get stronger" is not going to do anything.
6. Am I in control of this thought?
Does this thought have any kind of hold or power over you? Or are you in control of it? If not, ask yourself why you would let a thought have the power to control you. Remember, you are the commander of your own thoughts, not the other way around. You're in charge.
7. Do I want to keep this thought or let it go?
This is an especially profound question, as it looks at the worth of a thought for what it is. With this question, you're finding out whether you want to hold on to a thought that serves no useful purpose for your well-being. If it's not doing you any good, it's probably doing you bad. Let it go.
It's remarkable how asking these questions every day can be such a powerful tool. If you can turn it into a daily habit, much like brushing your teeth, you may soon find that things have shifted in your own head. You are on the way to eliminating the negative thinking that slows you down. You may find that some questions resonate so deeply they become your favorites, and you turn to them much like you're turning to a good friend or trusted ally.