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Breaking the cycle of rumination

Are you drained by negative self-talk?

Ever heard Henry Ford’s phrase “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t – you’re right”? Neuroscience has now demonstrated that the more you repeat the same behaviours or think the same thoughts, the stronger the jungle of neurones in your brain fire together to intensify the connections and reinforce the behaviour.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together”

Donald Webb

One new thought or fresh experience can change us neurologically, chemically – and ultimately genetically according to Professor Bruce Lipton in his mind-blowing book The Biology of Belief (2016). Put simply, we largely operate on automatic pilot and so our old ‘wiring and firing’ can either serve us or get in the way of us realising our goals and aspirations.

I used to nod my head in agreement and then unconsciously dismiss Henry Ford’s profound quote until I stumbled across the work of Dr Joe Dispenza in his incredible book: Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to lose your mind and create a new one (2016).  

Drawing on neuroscience, Dr Joe Dispenza explains how we used to think of the mind as an incredible computer and while there may be some similarities, it’s a lot more complex than a ‘hard drive’ receiving new updates. Dr Joe Dispenza and many others remind us that our brain is approximately 75% water; made up of billions of nerve cells called neurones that are arranged like a gangly, stretchy, elastic oak tree (think Avatar!). These trees have roots and branches that connect and disconnect to other nerve cells. Joe Dispenza explains that as we think new thoughts, do new things and create new memories, our neurones make new synaptic connections and exchange electrochemical information; serotonin, dopamine, acetocholine are just a few you may have heard of.

What this means is that the more you repeat a new behaviour or thoughts, jungles of those elastic trees of neurones fire in unison to strengthen new connections which in turn support the new thought. We largely operate on automatic pilot and our old ‘wiring and firing’ can get in the way of achieving our goals. Dr Joe Dispenzer proposes that we think around 60-70000 thoughts per day and 90% of those are exactly the same thoughts we had the day before… and the day before that.

Focusing on what you want

We largely operate as creatures of habit; we get out of bed on the same side; repeat daily washing and grooming rituals, order or make our coffee in predictable ways, watch the same TV programs and so on. Each day we function on autopilot, repeating familiar patterns until we fall asleep, wake up and repeat all over again, which is all very well if you are happy, content and comfortable with the rituals you engage your mind and body in. If not – the good news is you are a thought away from everything you desire. Imagine that!

Remember the inspiring words of Mahatma Ghandi:

  • Your beliefs become your thoughts
  • Your thoughts become your words
  • Your words become your actions
  • Your actions become your habits
  • Your habits become your values
  • Your values become your destiny.

Let’s draw upon this wisdom and put more energy into what you do want, rather than what you don’t want. And the best place to start that is to recognise and dismiss negative and limiting thoughts that no longer serve us. 

As you recognise yourself about to think a limiting belief, replace it with: 

  • I choose to…
  • I am curious to… 
  • I am open and loving 
  • I am learning how to…
  • I’m practicing a new way 
  • I am finding a new way

More loving mind backs to get you started

For one day keep track of every time you say:

  • ‘It’s always my fault’
  • ‘I don’t deserve it’
  • ‘I can’t’
  • ‘I shouldn’t’
  • ‘I won’t ‘
  • ‘I’ll never’

and replace with a more loving response:

  • ‘I choose’
  • ‘I want’
  • ‘I can’
  • ‘I am strong and wise’
  • ‘I am learning how to be kinder to myself’
  • ‘I am learning how to be a friend to me’
  • ‘I am becoming more curious and open’

Remind yourself everything is temporary; this too will pass.

Practice self-kindness – wear an elastic band around your wrist for a day and flick it as you flip limiting thoughts to kindness, compassion for you.

Pause, take a deep breath and ask yourself ‘how would love respond?’, ‘what would I choose for a best friend?’, or ‘what would love do in this scenario?’

Adopt a mantra for the day: I am no longer limited by past thinking, I choose my thoughts with care,  I joyously let go of things that no longer serve me (thank you Louise Hay) 

For more ideas and techniques to break the cycle of negative thoughts you can download a copy of my eBook ’10 Simple Steps to Control Anxiety’. 

We invite you to be the best version of yourself and we would love to hear how you are breaking the cycle of negative self-talk. If  you have additional questions or want to understand how to ‘re-set’ your mind and body to a calmer, lighter and more energised place, please give us a call.