Researchers have determined that you think more than 6,000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of words swirling around in that head of yours. A lot of judgements, ideas, beliefs, and values that you might take for granted, accept as true, or think on default.
How often do you even question them? Challenge them? Re-evaluate them? Revise them?
As I’ve shared in many previous blog posts, it’s your thoughts that create your feelings. And it’s your feelings that drive your behavior. And it’s your behavior that creates your results you see in your life.
Understand your thought patterns and their connection to your emotional life and behaviors to make weight loss easier.
When you’re calm and relaxed, your brain might seem quieter. More at peace. But during busy or stressful times, your brain might feel like it’s exploding with rapid or racing thoughts that threaten to overwhelm you.
Some thoughts, like fantasies about future travel plans, visits with your children or grandchildren, or the simple anticipation of your weekend plans, might prompt feelings of pleasure and excitement.
Unpleasant thoughts, on the other hand, might have a lingering negative impact on your mood and state of mind.
Worries about your weight, what to eat or not eat, cravings that nag for your attention, or some new and unusual health symptoms you’ve noticed — any of these can pop up and distract you from your current commitments, plans, tasks or activities.
Any of them can throw a wet blanket on your mood.
Due to our inherent negativity bias, you often place more significance on negative thoughts.
Remember the Motivational Triad? Our ancestral programming long ago prioritized our abilities to seek pleasure, avoid pain and conserve energy. Our brains were designed to keep us alive so we could procreate. That meant we had to be extra aware of threats and dangers.
Therefore, we notice the negative first. And often. This doesn’t mean that you’re a Negative Nellie. It means you’re a finely tuned human!
So it’s no wonder that negative thoughts have incredible lingering power, even if they don’t pose an immediate or likely threat.
Logically, you may well know that the thing you’re worried about probably won’t happen. Even so, you may find it difficult to stop thinking about it. Perhaps you tend to cycle through those same uncomfortable thoughts again and again. Rumination has hijacked your brain power.
That said, there’s no denying that mental health concerns, like depression and anxiety, can contribute to the number of unwanted thoughts cropping up. Particularly when these conditions go unaddressed.
Intrusive thoughts can shake your equilibrium.
Intrusive thoughts refer to unsettling or disturbing thoughts that invade your consciousness. These can be very upsetting. They often seem to arise without any specific trigger. These thoughts might be sexual or violent in nature. They could be about behavior that embarrasses or disgusts you.
A few scientific studies have explored how often thoughts like these occur.
While these studies suggest that intrusive thoughts do happen for most people from time to time, they also imply that intrusive thoughts aren’t all that frequent.
However, you might notice intrusive thoughts far more often — multiple times a day, even — if you live with certain mental health conditions, including:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
These thoughts, again, are natural, and they don’t necessarily pose a cause for concern. Especially if you have them only occasionally.
Neveetheless, working with a mental health professional to address intrusive thoughts and potential underlying causes might be a good option. Especially when those thoughts happen frequently enough to disrupt your daily routine or sleep. Or lead to worries about acting on them. Or keep you from accomplishing day-to-day tasks.
Where do our thoughts come from?
Here’s a basic explanation.
Current theories hold that thoughts form when your brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, signal other cells by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. In an extremely short amount of time, countless other neurons respond, setting off a chain reaction of firing neurons along the pathways of your brain.
This domino effect explains Hebb’s Rule: neurons]s that fire together wire together. This makes thoughts that you think more frequently more persistent and more easily primed to become habitual.
Neurons can send these signals at any time. But, it’s the events happening around you that often trigger thoughts related to those events.
Research from 2015 also suggested that two adjacent regions in your brain’s left temporal lobe work together to construct thoughts. These regions appear to use an algebra-like system of variables to encode known and new information into comprehensible thoughts.
As for the content of your thoughts, your everyday life often plays a key role. You’re most likely to think about the things you experience on a regular basis.
This fact helps explain why such a strong link exists between mental health concerns and rumination. When distressing thoughts and emotions persist, they might feel inescapable. You might end up fixating on them, in part, because you simply don’t know how to start shaking them loose.
You can change your thinking.
Since thinking is a fundamental life activity, some of your thoughts can get in your way more often than you would like.
Mind wandering, when your thoughts veer off course from your current activity, happens pretty frequently for most people — during up to almost half of your daily activities, according to some research.
These distracting thoughts can create challenges when you really need to focus on your current activity, or when they lead to ruminations or emotional distress.
Nevertheless, no matter what kind of thought’s you’re thinking, here’s the good news. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR THINKING.
This doesn’t mean ignoring your thoughts, resisting them, trying to push them away, or necessarily replacing them with more positive ones.
Changing your thinking always begins with allowing ALL thoughts to surface.
Which doesn’t mean you have to believe them, act on them or accept them. It does mean recognizing them and not attaching any obligatory meaning to them.
In general, the most helpful techniques for addressing thoughts you want to change include:
- Accepting the thought. When it arises, identify it, remind yourself it’s only a thought, and let it pass without giving it any more consideration or attention. Then, go back to your task.
- Practicing meditation and mindfulness. Meditation may help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression for some people. Other mindfulness and relaxation techniques, including breathing exercises, can also help promote inner calm and a more relaxed state of mind. With a regular meditation practice, you might notice fewer distressing thoughts over time.
- Working with a coach or mental health profession. While either a coach or a mental health professional can provide help in allowing and processing thoughts and emotions, mental health professionals can help you explore underlying causes of concerning intrusive or racing thoughts. They can also help you explore possible explanations for your tendency toward distracting thoughts and difficulty focusing. Both can teach you helpful coping strategies.
- Laddering new thoughts. Shifting your thoughts about anything begins with laddering new, believable thoughts to practice.
Become intentionally aware of your thoughts to make sustainable weight loss easier.
Isn’t it about time to question the usefulness all your thoughts about your relationship with food, your weight and your body?
You do not have to believe everything you think or have thought for most of your life. Especially the old weight loss dogmas that science has proven to be mistaken, wrong or even dangerous to your long term health.
Let’s take a closer look at the thinking that could be impeding successful weight loss.
Please take me up on my offer for your FREE Strategy Call. Then you can see for yourself how it’s possible to jump start weight loss by intentionally increasing your ability to shape your thinking.
This exploration can help you reach your weight loss goals with a lot less stress and drama.
It’s totally possible to make 2022 your year to create the healthiest you. No matter your age, stage or past disappointments.
Jump start your fresh start. A year from now you will thank yourself you reached out to me today.
I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.
It’s Never Too Late to make your weight loss journey easier. Let’s go!