Positive thoughts are accompanied by positive changes in your body’s biochemistry. Negative thoughts, on the other hand, tend to depress both your immunity and your mood. And remember that both types of thoughts tend to attract their physical equivalents. That is why getting a handle on the quality of your daily thoughts—and choosing them more deliberately and consciously—is a powerful tool for making your life easy.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And it actually is simple. The problem is this: It is estimated that we think about 60,000 thoughts per day. Of these, 80 percent are negative and habitual, e.g., “It’s too late for me to [blank].” Or “My father was right. I’ll never amount to anything.” And on it goes. Thoughts, like genes, are handed down in families and tribes, and they are highly contagious. For example, if you are brought up in a family that believes rich people are evil, chances are very good that you will have exactly the same thought. Thinking differently from your tribe is a considered a betrayal. And, as you will remember from an earlier chapter, tribes punish what they consider betrayal with shame and abandonment. Because shame and abandonment are painful, most people don’t want to risk changing their habitual thoughts, lest they no longer fit in. I’m bringing this up now so that, when you meet the inevitable resistance that arises with changing thoughts, you’ll know you’re on the right track!
Luckily, we all have the ability to change the way we think. In his magnificent TED talk, Dr. Joe Dispenza goes into great detail about how thoughts and their accompanying feelings actually change the neuronal patterns in our brains. Repetitive thoughts and feelings of joy or compassion actually create new connections in the brain, and the old ones—of depression and sadness—eventually fall away. But only with repetition and dedication. What we’ve learned about the brain is that it gets good at whatever it does the most. Repetitive thoughts create faster and larger neural pathways in the brain much the same way as nature trails in the woods become easier to follow and walk on the more people walk on them. As the popular axiom goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” The ability of the brain to change its wiring with different thought and movement patterns is known as neuroplasticity. And that quality stays with us for a lifetime, which means that it’s never too late to change your thought patterns and thus improve your life.
Changing your thoughts takes repetition, self-love, optimism, patience, and discipline. When you begin to pay loving attention to your thoughts—no matter how negative they are—you will gradually upgrade to more positive ones quite naturally. The end result will be that your life is forever changed for the better. Your thoughts and the associated chemicals that affect your body will all be working for you. So let’s get started with some tried-and-true ways to change your thoughts.
Loving Your Inner Innocence
Spiritual teacher Matt Kahn points out that what we call “the shadow” is really our inner child and inner innocence that has been ignored and shamed for so long it will do anything to get our attention. To emphasize this point, in one of his lectures on YouTube, he recounted a time in his life when the power of his inner child became obvious. He was communing with ascended masters and other high-vibration spiritual guides when a voice in his head said, “Go f**k yourself.” It was the voice of his inner child, whose needs he had been ignoring. It turns out that the inner child loves four-letter words for emphasis.
When I heard this, a lightbulb went on for me. Of course! Almost every single one of us, including me, tends to have a deep-seated belief from our past that what we have to say or contribute is not good enough. This belief comes from the overstimulated nervous system—and subsequent unconscious beliefs—of our inner child. And the inner children of our parents, and their parents, and so on.
You will not be successful at changing your thoughts sustainably, let alone your behavior, until you have loved this part of yourself. You must love it as you would a five-year-old in pain. So while you’re catching yourself thinking negative thoughts, first say something like “I love you. You’re beautiful. I value you. I forgive you. You are precious” to the child inside who is just letting you know how she feels. Put your hand over your heart and say these words out loud. Like you mean it. Because just putting an intellectual layer of “choose the thought that feels better” on top of the pain of your inner child is not going to work. She needs your love, and she’s going to keep demanding it until you pay attention. So start by understanding that those negative thoughts are simply coming from the aspect of yourself that needs love. Attend to this part first, and then watch how easily you can change your thoughts.
Limit Exposure to Negativity
Aside from loving your inner child, there are quite a number of things you can do to help you change your thoughts. The first is to limit negative outside influences. This includes much of mainstream media, music, video games, and the Internet, along with anyone who drains your energy. Remember that our entire culture is set up to feed our egos and keep us afraid. We’re constantly being bombarded with things that keep us stuck in fear and negativity. Anything that elicits fear, anger, fatigue, or a sense of powerlessness needs to be cut out of your life—or at least reduced as much as possible.
Let’s take mainstream news, for example. It’s fine to stay informed about the world. And quite frankly, you’d have to be living under a rock not to be informed these days given the 24/7 news cycle and the Internet. But just be media savvy and know your sources. Mainstream news chooses the most extreme situations from all over the globe—then adds powerful, evocative music and replays scenes of pain, anger, and mayhem repeatedly 24/7. Mainstream news is a business that is supported by advertisers who have a particular point of view. Most commercial television shows, for example, are supported by Big Food and Big Pharma, and the content of the shows they support is generally in alignment with the message they want you to believe. If you are media savvy and know how mass media works, then fine. You won’t be unconsciously imbibing the negativity.
But I, for one, am rarely able to maintain my usually optimistic cheery mood after I’ve watched the evening news. So I don’t watch it. Why? Because no human being has nervous, endocrine, and immune systems that were designed to process the negative news from all over the planet that’s being piped into their living room on a daily basis. Frankly, most of us have enough on our plates with frustrations from our own jobs, neighborhoods, and families, let alone the entire planet.
The reason why it’s so important to avoid negativity is because it disconnects you from your power to make a positive change in the world and in your life. It does just the opposite. It deadens us and renders us powerless. How can we possibly make a difference in the face of so much pain and destruction? It’s paralyzing to stay in this low-vibration state. So you must do whatever it takes to raise your vibration to a higher level characterized by optimism, hope, and joy.
When you are connected to the Divine part of yourself, you are aligned with the power of pure positive energy. And that pure positive energy creates a magnetic field that draws in more pure positive energy. This is the kind of energy that thrives on inspiration and the lifting up of others. It builds things up, rather than tearing them down. It is the exact opposite of the energy that produces vandalism and rampages of violence. Aligning with pure, positive energy inspires you to take a walk in nature, smile at strangers, and become a force for good. And that pure, positive energy is what uplifts and heals the planet. Powerfully so. And that is scientific fact.
The Power of Affirmations
Chances are that you’ve heard of using affirmations as a way to change ingrained negative thought patterns. But what exactly are affirmations, and how do you use them?
Affirm means to state as a fact—strongly and publicly—and/or to support emotionally. Thus an affirmation is a strong statement spoken or written as fact that supports you emotionally in order to bring forth or emphasize something you desire. An example of an affirmation is “I am free, happy, and healthy. Happiness is my birthright. I was born to be joyous.”
To use affirmations, you simply say them. Look in the mirror and speak them aloud. When you do this, you are literally creating new neural pathways in your brain. It doesn’t happen right away, but remember what I said at the beginning of this chapter: Your brain gets good at what it does often. So give yourself time and also make sure that the very act of affirming something is enjoyable. Affirmations that are done as a chore and without your wholehearted attention won’t create much change in your life.
What Goes into an Affirmation?
Affirmations are strong statements, set in the present tense, that express some desired outcome in your life. For example, “Life supports me in every way.” Or “I am healthy and completely pain free.” Pretty simple, right?
There are, however, a couple of traps you can set for yourself when coming up with affirmations. It’s important not to sabotage yourself with an affirmation that’s a real long shot for you.
An example would be, “I happily make $1,000,000 per year, tax free” when you are saddled with debt and are working for a relativity low wage. It’s too much of a jump for your brain to handle that new prosperous reality. And your body and mind are likely to rebel.
Also keep in mind that you don’t want to make the affirmations too detailed or specific, such as “The love of my life, who has a great job, makes a lot of money, has a wonderful relationship with his family, and is compassionate to all beings, is already here.” Tosha Silver calls this “giving God a shopping list”—a great term. But it’s much more effective to make a broad, general statement about how you want to feel: “The love of my life, who makes me feel happy and alive, is already here.” When we give God our “shopping list” of specific things we want, it limits what the Divine can do through us. And trust me, we want the Divine part of ourselves to lead us, because the Divine knows what we need better than our limited intellects ever could.
Remember that affirmations don’t actually make things happen. Instead, they can raise your vibration so that you are more receptive to the desired outcome.
I wanted to develop the kind of mind-set that would attract abundance. And I had to do this fast. Besides reading the books, I created some pro-prosperity affirmations. These weren’t simply about money—though some were. They were about prosperity in all aspects of my life. They were about how I wanted to feel. How I wanted to live. How I wanted to interact with the world. These were some of my favorites:
I am now experiencing perfect health, abundant prosperity, and complete and utter happiness. This is true because the world is full of charming people who now lovingly help me in every way.
I am now come into an innumerable company of angels.
I am now living a delightful, interesting, and satisfying life of the most widely useful kind.
Because of my own increased wealth, health, and happiness, I am now able to help others live a delightful, interesting, and satisfying life of the most widely useful kind. My good—our good—is universal.
Today I am reborn spiritually. I completely detach myself from my old way of thinking, and I bring Divine Love, light, health, joy, wealth, success, pleasure, prosperity, and abundance into my experience in concrete, definite ways.
I soar above all problems and obstacles as I triumphantly move forward to claim my Divine birthright of unlimited wealth, health, love, prosperity, and abundance.
I accept only harmony, peace of mind, radiantly good health, personal love, and overflowing financial abundance as the natural conditions in my daily life.
There is great power in my joy, pleasure, and vision of a delightful life.
I said these affirmations out loud—every day, over and over again—while walking fast on a treadmill. I wanted the words to get into my body, so I said them with great enthusiasm to boost my vibration as high as I could get it. These statements helped make me into a far more solid container for abundance than I had been before. Little by little, day by day, they gave me the energy and inspiration I needed to do the nuts and bolts of becoming financially literate.
The power of affirmations in my own life is indisputable. I suggest that you create some of your own to help you shift in whatever way you need to shift. And add new ones regularly. Start each morning with a few. And put them on your bathroom mirror. If you’d like, you can sign up for daily affirmations delivered to your in-box right on my website.
*Excerpted from Making Life Easy: A Simple Guide to a Divinely Inspired Life, available now.*
About the Author:
Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness, which includes the unity of mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Internationally known for her empowering approach to women’s health and wellness, Dr. Northrup teaches women how to thrive at every stage of life. A board-certified OB/GYN physician, Dr. Northrup graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and did her residency at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston. She was also an assistant clinical professor of OB/GYN at Maine Medical Center for 20 years.