Overcoming Deeply Negative Thinking

In a previous post, I discussed one approach to releasing deeply embedded negative thoughts, whether they are related to money or any other topic that has had you feeling stuck for months or years.

This post discusses a second approach, based on a coaching model originally developed by Brooke Castillo that I previously introduced here.  

To review, the CTFAR model is:

  • Each of the Circumstances you have in your life leads to Thoughts;
  • These Thoughts lead to Feelings;
  • Feelings often cause us to take certain Actions;
  • And finally, these Actions create our Results.

Based on personal experience along with coaching from Stacey Boehman, this is my take on how to use the CTFAR model to gradually overcome these well-worn negative thought processes in your mind. 

How to Climb a Negative Thought Mountain

Mountain climbers know that to get to the summit, they need to consciously and intentionally choose each handhold and foothold as they make their way up.  They do not simply squat down at the base, spring into the air and expect to reach the top in a single leap!

They also know that if it’s a particularly difficult climb, they can expect to feel significant physical and mental discomfort along the way.  The goal is not to be comfortable all the time, it is to get to the top of the mountain.

Finally, climbers know the importance of safety precautions whether that is in the form of harnesses or climbing with one or more partners.  Having these measures in place is critical for the inevitable times they lose their grip and slip backwards on their journey.

Step 1 – Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

When we’re in a hurry, we’re likely not paying attention to each step of our journey.  However, to climb a mountain, we must remain aware of where we place each of our hands and our feet.  Like each step up the side of a mountain, begin your use of the CTFAR model by paying attention to each thought and whether it serves or does not serve your goals in life. 

Step 2 – Choose SLIGHTLY Better Thoughts

As noted above, it is not realistic for mountain climbers to simply jump to the top of the mountain.  This is also true for our journeys to overcome deeply embedded, highly negative thought processes. For example, it is simply too big a leap to go from, “I am a complete failure in my business!” to, “I am a wildly successful entrepreneur!”

Instead, give yourself the gift of choosing slightly better thoughts that, in turn, give you the opportunity to feel slightly better about things.  For example, to counter, “I am a complete failure in my business!” consider slightly better thoughts such as, “I have managed to make a little bit more money most years I have been in business,” or, “I did get two new clients last year.”

These slightly better thoughts likely won’t move you to an instant state of bliss; however, they can move you from a feeling of helplessness to a more neutral state of mind and eventually open the door to rekindling hope within you. 

Step 3 – Accept the Emotional Discomfort

When you get to the end of a long day and sink into your favorite chair or sofa, your goal is to be comfortable.  Not so with climbing a mountain and not so by being willing to patiently use the CTFAR model.  

Mountain climbers know they will likely experience moderate to extreme discomfort along the way.  So, too must we accept and embrace the emotional discomfort associated with this journey.  Our primary goal with the CTFAR model is not to immediately feel better about our situation.  It is to continually observe our thoughts, and intentionally choose slightly better thoughts that will serve us better.

Step 4 – Remember Those Safety Precautions!

Inevitably mountain climbers will slip and fall.  Knowing this, wise climbers always use safety harnesses and often climb the most challenging peaks with one or more partners.  

While on this journey, we can protect ourselves from falling all the way back down the mountain by taking the time for self-care, not only in the form of activities that nourish us, but also by continuing to invest in relationships, particularly when we’re feeling our most vulnerable.

What’s Your Negative Thought Mountain?

Are there deeply negative thoughts in one or more area of your life that you’ve been trying to overcome for quite some time?  Be gentle with yourself. Make a commitment to become a student of your thoughts associated with these aspects of your life. Study them.  Patiently choose the next available thought that slightly reframes the situation in your mind even if you must accept remaining in a state of emotional turmoil along the way. Because, like the mountain climber, the pain will eventually be replaced by the bliss of reaching the top and putting these negative thoughts permanently behind you!