We are so conditioned to live in a cycle of toxic, negative thinking, that we may not even realise the impact it’s having on our psychological wellbeing. This is known as ‘stiff thinking’ – but the good news is, we *can* mould our brains to adopt a healthier, flexi-thinking approach.
Here, Poppy Jamie – author of ‘Happy Not Perfect: Upgrade Your Mind, Challenge Your Thoughts and Free Yourself From Anxiety’ – shares how developing better thought health could be key to alleviating anxiety, and improving our mental health for good…
Because our thoughts are so elusive, we don’t tend to focus on how they impact us – as soon as they’re here, they’re gone again. But if we don’t give them the attention they need, they can quickly eat away at our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Before we realise it, we’re swimming in a toxic internal soup of negativity. Not only does this make us feel deflated and crush our confidence, compromise our immune system, impact our digestion and even our skin.
The journey to better thought health has been a long one for me. My chronically toxic thoughts had become so frequent, I began to consider them normal and unchangeable. It was only when I hit rock bottom and began learning about my mind with the help of many experts did I realise I didn’t need to continue living locked in this unhealthy thought experience. Neither do you. The key is learning how to turn your stuff thoughts flexible.
How to know if you are a stiff thinker…
- Do your past hurts influence future fears because you think it will happen again? Is it driven by your childhood, which still dictates the choices you make in life?
- Do you have to be “right” and if someone doesn’t agree with you, they are wrong? Or are you the opposite and like to please people, even if it goes against what you truly want inside? Do you crave their recognition and beat yourself up if you feel like you’ve made a mistake?
- Are you the type of person where everything has to be perfect, otherwise you’re disappointed? Do you have extremely high expectations and think you’re a failure if you don’t reach them?
- And do you think you’re destined to be a “certain” kind of person for the rest of your life, and that will never change? That you innately believe you just can’t change?
If any of those stiff thinking qualities resonate, then don’t worry, it’s actually not your fault. We are biologically prone to all being “stiff thinkers” because our brains are wired to predict and protect – essentially, to assume the worst. In fact, roughly 80% of our thoughts are negative – psychologists call this ‘negative bias’ – but sadly, it doesn’t know when it’s causing more harm than good.
When you also take into account how overwhelmed our brains are with information – we receive 11 million bits of information per second, but our brain can only process 50 bits at a time – it’s no wonder we’re prone to stiff thinking. But it can make us susceptible to experiencing high amounts of anxiety, shame, regret, frustration, anger and resentment.
But the good news is that we can take control of our thought health. In fact, one of the greatest biological blessings we all have is neuroplasticity – basically, our brains malleable; we can change, adapt and upgrade them!
Developing better thought health isn’t about jumping on the toxic positivity bandwagon; that is merely an avoidance and suppression technique. Instead, we use a method called ‘The Flex’. It’s a four-step practice to help you move away from a compulsive state of negative thinking and running on auto-pilot, to a more deliberate state of activity where we intentionally make decisions and move forward without our pre-programmed defaults of self-blame, anxiety, perfectionism and avoidance.
How to change to flexi-thinking…
To change your stiff thoughts to flexible ones, remember the four ‘Cs’…
- Connection: Reconnect with yourself and your intuition. Get to know yourself and recognise that you are not your thoughts, and emotions are only ever temporary. I always say it’s virtually impossible to think your way out of a problem by yourself, and much easier to give yourself some breathing space, create a new energy, and then make new thoughts. As Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
- Curiosity: The best weapon against unhealthy thoughts is curiosity. By asking the right questions, you can disarm any thought you’re having. By challenging, remaining open, and digging deeper into your thinking, you uncover the lies and replace them with healthier, more compassionate truths.
- Choice: Better thought health comes only when we make a conscious effort to prioritise compassion and forgiveness. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond. We’ve established that we are naturally inclined to be stiff, negative thinkers – so making a decision to ‘stretch’ is the root of impactful change.
- Commitment: Change and improvement only happens when we take full responsibility for our own thought health – when we commit to making decisions from a place of love, radical self-acceptance, and in keeping with the future we want. By committing to a new way of thinking, you are also committing to getting to know yourself first.
Flexible thinking is about feeling confident in the face of change and adversity, and actively creating the future you want. It’s about developing the tools and sense of inner trust needed to manage anything that’s thrown our way. Life is challenging, testing, and most of the time, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But with more compassionate, optimistic thoughts and a flexible outlook, you can remain confident in your ability to overcome your past – or anything else that life might throw your way.
‘Happy Not Perfect: Upgrade Your Mind, Challenge Your Thoughts and Free Yourself From Anxiety’ by Poppy Jamie is out on 10th June. You can also listen to the ‘Not Perfect Podcast’ with flexible thinkers and download the ‘Happy Not Perfect’ app for daily flexi-thinking exercises.
Business News Governmental News Finance News