Rule #2 of the 'Seven Rules of the Mental Road' states: "You can't NOT think about what's on your mind". In fact, the harder you try to ‘not think about' something that is negative, the more powerful and entrenched in your mind that negative thought becomes, and the greater the negative influence it has on your performance. The only way to stop negative thoughts is to shift your thinking to thoughts – and images – that are both positive and productive with regard to your personal performance. Since the human mind can only process one thought at a time (Rule #1), you must actively choose to direct your mind toward (i.e. focus on) a Dominant Thought that is positive, productive, and directly related to how you want to perform. By doing so, you will deny the mind the processor "capacity" required to dwell on the negative.
The FIVE R's are key words that summarize a Negative Thought Stopping procedure that can help you achieve this goal. Each word sets up the thought process for the next step in this sequential procedure. Implementing this thought process on a consistent basis, with intensity, is critical to successfully learning to stop negative or counter-productive thoughts.
RECOGNIZE – Recognizing that you are having a negative thought is a critical first step in learning to control negative thoughts. Consciously increasing your awareness and vigilance with regard to negative thinking will aid in the recognition and control of counter-productive and self-destructive thinking. You must be "on guard" to recognize the first signs of negative thinking in order to crush that thought before it has a chance to fully form and strongly take hold of your conscious mind.
REFUSE – You must refuse to allow the negative thought to continue and gain strength by some positive and defined action (e.g. visualize a STOP sign in your mind's eye; snap a rubber band across your wrist every time you have a negative thought; etc.). You must do something to disrupt the negative image and/or thought in order to prevent it from growing stronger. By doing this, you begin the process of shifting your mind away from the negative thought.
RELAX – Use any of a number of techniques that can help you to relax: take a deep, controlled breath; use a verbal trigger to shift your thoughts and feelings to a relaxing image; etc. When you are relaxed, the effect of mental programming is more powerful and you are ensuring that the next step in this 5-step procedure will have an increased potential to be effective.
REFRAME – The 4th step in the Negative Thought Stopping procedure serves to complete a mental shift toward images and thoughts that are consistent with your best performance. Replace the negative thought with a positive image or thought. "I AM in control of my thoughts and actions, I can choose to respond and think the way I want to." "I've been here before and done this before, so I know I can do it again." "This is part of the process that I have chosen." Use imagery to ‘see' and ‘feel' the performance you want to achieve and how you want to BE as you achieve it. Become you're personal A.C.T.© model.
RESUME – Continue your activities with a sense of confidence and control. You will always enjoy strong sense of confidence if you tie this mindset to a personal commitment to always give nothing but your best effort, regardless of the situation or outcome. The degree of effort you apply to the challenges that you face on an ongoing basis is totally, 100% within your control… it is one of the few things that is, in fact, fully within your control. Think about what you are like when you perform with excellence and what you want to achieve, and develop your confidence by always applying your best effort to achieve it. A.C.T.© like a Champion in word, thought, and deed.
The next time you feel negative thoughts grabbing hold, use these Five R's to effectively change your thought patterns and bring about powerful results in your life. Make this simple program your new habit!
Jacques Dallaire, Ph.D is the principal consultant of http://www.dallaireconsulting.com/
Copyright (c) 2006 Dallaire Consulting LLC