With the willingness to change, you can learn how to stop negative thoughts, rewrite limiting beliefs about yourself and dance to a new tune, writes Anya Lukover…
Have you ever wondered how it would feel to be completely free of all your negative thoughts? No more self-criticism, no limits to what actions you can take towards your desires and goals in life, no feelings of not being good enough, of unworthiness, of failure. None of it. Gone with the wave of a magic wand.
Just create that version of yourself for a moment and notice what happens to your confidence and energy levels. You suddenly feel possibility brimming up, and your energy rising to meet it. But is it really possible to get rid of all the negative self-talk and disempowering beliefs? Isn’t it just a part of your identity?
Where do our negative thoughts come from?
As a healing mentor, it’s something I help creative souls deal with all the time. After all, your thoughts and beliefs are really just energy zooming about in your head. But how do they get in there in the first place, and how do they continue to live inside you?
Well, research shows that you live just 5 percent of your life from your conscious mind, which are all the thoughts and desires that you are aware of. The other 95 per cent of thoughts that you are unaware of live in the subconscious, so it is pretty much running the show.
The role of the subconscious in negative self-talk
I’m going to use an analogy that I first heard from Bruce Lipton, a cell biologist and pioneer in how your beliefs affect your genetic coding. Lipton says the subconscious is like a cassette tape that is constantly playing in the background. Its job is to record every experience you encounter, as a survival mechanism that can keep you alive.
It logs your memories, ideas, emotions, thoughts and all the sensory information you’ve ever experienced, including all interactions you had in your earlier years with everyone around you: for example, parents, siblings, family, teachers, religion, society, and television.
The interactions between the age of birth to six formed your core beliefs. A belief that ‘I’m not lovable’ may come from having a hard-working parent who’s rarely at home, or ‘I’m not good enough’ may come from being told off by a teacher. ‘I’m stupid’ could come from a tormenting sibling.
How our past experiences affect our present thoughts
All these messages were recorded onto your tape player in your early years. From there on, you live your life by playing out your recordings and building on your patterns of stress and beliefs based on those early messages.
You make decisions and take actions based on the limits of feeling like you’re never good enough in your relationships, feeling too stupid to apply for your dream job, or not very lovable within your group of friends.
When you react to stressful situations with irritation, anger, sadness, resentment or offence, you are reacting to beliefs created from past events that are recorded on your cassette tape. Even the word reaction (‘re-action’) gives you the clue. You are literally ‘re-acting’ how a past event made you feel, triggered by the belief that lays beneath it.
How our body reacts to negative thoughts
The subconscious not only records these beliefs on a psychological level, but also a physiological one, too. ‘If a child is always rejected when reaching out for love, then their body will tighten muscles in their shoulders, in their neck, in their heart, or in their stomach, and that becomes a chronic tension pattern, subconsciously, that gets held in the body,’ says psychotherapist Dr Dori Gatter.
‘And then there’s a belief that “if I reach out for love, I’ll be rejected”. So, that tension pattern holds the belief physically in the body‘. When you are getting triggered by something, that is the body’s memory of when something happened in the past that you are responding to.
When we’re talking about pain in the body, this comes from the chronic tension pattern. What’s happening, actually, is that people end up being annoyed with the pain and upset with the pain, which is really just being annoyed at themselves,’ she adds.
The way you respond to pain or any other symptoms that your body presents you with can be key to learning what beliefs you are holding in your body. Another way to discover the beliefs is to observe how you interpret stressful situations. This is because your stress response can always be traced back to traumatic events and those early core beliefs.
Recognising your negative beliefs
I speak from experience. The debilitating symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are what put me onto this path of turning to my inner world.
Triggered by the stress of a high-pressure job in advertising, I eventually found myself bed-bound for a few months. Intense body pain and fatigue, tinnitus, brain fog, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and hypothyroid were the party of symptoms that were screaming at me.
I found that some treatments helped to manage the symptoms. However, for years it felt like I was dragging my body around with me, trying to live a ‘normal’ life. I believed I was weak, my body was broken, and that for some reason life was punishing me.
Eventually, I came to the realisation that my body was simply playing out my cassette tape recordings in a physical form, and I needed to accept myself.
I certified in EFT and Matrix Reimprinting, and discovered that all I had to do was start listening and use it as a tool for discovering what beliefs were limiting me, and record some new, empowering ones, instead.
How to stop negative thoughts
The brilliant Dr David Hamilton supports this idea of using kindness, and of cleaning up our self-talk to have a positive effect on your body and health.
‘When we are unkind to ourselves,’ says Dr Hamilton, ‘we are causing ourselves a certain amount of psychological stress – and you can’t have psychological stress without a physical component to it,’ he says.
‘When we are criticising and being hard on ourselves, it is like we are psychologically inflaming ourselves. Life is giving us these opportunities, but these limiting beliefs are stopping us,’ he explains.
‘We are putting our nervous system into almost continual background stress and that can have repercussions in a number of different ways – if the body is naturally on stress alert, that will have a suppressing effect on the immune system. It also suppresses the body’s natural regenerative system, so we don’t recover as fast from things such as illness or exercise,’ Dr Hamilton adds.
The power of belief: the placebo effect
The power of belief, and how it affects the body, has been acknowledged by science with the research that has been done on the placebo and nocebo effects.
‘In a scientific study completed years ago, where people who had asthma were given an inhaler that contained saline (salt water) but were told it contained an allergy, 19 out of the 40 people taking part developed a constriction of the airways. 12 had an actual asthma attack. That’s the effect of the power of a negative belief,’ says Dr Hamilton.
‘The only way that they reversed the effects was that they were then given another inhaler and told that it contained something that would relieve their symptoms. After this, they all returned to normal.
‘So a negative belief actually made salt water constrict their airways, and it was a positive belief that reversed it. The placebo and nocebo effects are the clearest demonstrations of the power of positive and negative beliefs on the body,’ Dr Hamilton concludes.
Rewrite your negative beliefs
In my own case, some beliefs that I uncovered were: ‘I’m not important’, ‘It’s not safe to let my guard down’, ‘I’m a failure’, ‘It’s not safe to sleep’, ‘I’m responsible for everyone’s feelings’, ‘My best efforts are not good enough’, and ‘I’m too slow’, to name just a few. It’s no wonder my body put me to bed for a few months. Carrying around such beliefs is exhausting!
Re-recording these beliefs not only resulted in a relief of my symptoms, but my relationships both with other people and with myself have improved, as well. My inner bully has quietened down, I feel liberated knowing I’m in charge, and life seems to present me with exciting opportunities.
So, the next time your body tugs on your sleeve by presenting a symptom to you, or you hear yourself using limiting language, such as ‘I can’t…’ or ‘I should, but…’, or blaming age on why your body is failing you with it’s aches and pains, know that you have a choice.
You can continue listening to the same cassette tape, or connect into what beliefs your wonderful body is communicating and record some new empowering music with which to dance into your best life.
Tuning into your mind and body
It is important to have extra love for yourself and show self-compassion with this work. It’s not always easy, and sometimes some deeper work is required than just repeating affirmations. If you feel too afraid or find yourself sabotaging your best efforts, then remember this is all coming from what is recorded in your subconscious; it’s not your fault.
Find yourself a practitioner who will help to guide you on your journey. Dr Gatter adds: ‘Your body holds all the messages. You can ask the tension pattern directly: What are you here for? What’s your purpose? What is the message you have for me? What do I need to learn by you being here?
‘And start to get to know it and befriend it, rather than treating it like a problem – because, then, you’re just treating yourself like a problem.’
Further reading on how to stop negative thoughts:
The Biology Of Belief by Bruce Lipton (Hay House, £14.99)
Transform Your Beliefs, Transform Your Life by Karl Dawson and Kate Marillat (Hay House, £14.99)
The Five Side Effects Of Kindness by David Hamilton (Hay House, £12.99)
Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Deb Shapiro (Little, Brown, £14.99)
Words: Anya Lukover | Images: Shutterstock