The problem with continuous ineffective thinking and a negative mindset is the damaging influence it has in all areas of your life, from self-doubt to limiting beliefs to emotional insecurity to procrastination.
The impact of ineffective thinking is magnified if negative self-talk is allowed to dominate your consciousness over the entirety of your life.
Recognising the patterns of ineffective or negative thinking through self-awareness is the first step in addressing and reframing these thoughts and beliefs to promote a more positive and constructive mindset.
If you were to choose just one thing to focus on, I would advise you to focus on your mindset.
Without the right mindset, your effectiveness is near zero.
I would go so far as to say that mindset is responsible for 80% of your effectiveness, and your capability and capacity are responsible for the remaining 20% of your effectiveness.
Which is why it’s important to get your mindset right.
We will now discuss three strategies to help develop the right mindset by prioritising effective thinking over ineffective thinking:
- Identify Ineffective Thinking.
- Cultivate Present Moment Mindfulness (The STOP Method).
- Promote Effective Self-Talk.
#1: Identify Ineffective Thinking
Identifying ineffective thinking is the first step in prioritising effective thinking. Without the awareness of how you think, you limit your ability to challenge any self-limiting beliefs and replace them with self-empowering ones.
By addressing an ineffective mindset, you set into motion the process for personal growth, enhanced well-being, improved problem-solving, and greater success in both your personal and professional life.
Here are some common expressions of ineffective thinking. Which ones do you relate to?
-> All-or-nothing thinking?
-> Mind reading?
-> Should statements?
-> Discounting the positive (Imposter syndrome)?
#2: Cultivate Present Moment Mindfulness – The STOP Method
Now that you have identified your ineffective thinking, the next step is to STOP it.
Unless, of course, you want to continue with self-doubt, catastrophising, self-criticism, or discounting the positive, which I doubt.
Stopping your ineffective thought processing involves mindfulness. You need to be sufficiently aware of what’s going on inside your mind before you can do something about it.
You need to shine the light of attention into the darkened corners of your mind and illuminate your mental space so you can see what’s going on.
You can’t do this with a cluttered mind. You need to do some spring cleaning and clear out the mental nooks and crannies that you have been neglecting and putting aside.
So, yes, you need to practice mindfulness, which is:
A mental state characterised by present-moment awareness and non-judgemental observation, often cultivated through practices like meditation.
Mindfulness involves deliberately paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment without trying to change or judge them.
How Mindfulness Works
But why bother? Well, mindfulness is widely recognised for its positive effects on mental and emotional well-being.
There’s ample research to show that mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve emotional well-being, and enhance overall mental clarity and resilience.
It also encourages a non-reactive and accepting approach to the thoughts and experiences that arise, allowing for a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you. Including your ineffective thinking.
Mindfulness works in this way:
-> Mindfulness gives laser-sharp focus on the here and now, limiting worries of the future and minimising regrets and judgements of the past.
-> This sharpened focus leads to greater awareness of how you are reacting and behaving, which increases your insight into your thought triggers of your emotions.
-> This insight clears your mind of the emotional clutter that hampers good decision-making, and once you make better decisions and choices you are then able to consciously manifest the results you desire.
This is life-changing, as bestselling authors like Jack Canfield, Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar, and Earl Nightingale tell us, because your thoughts are creating your reality.
When you change your thinking, you literally change the way you experience the world.
So, to get the maximum practical benefits of mindfulness, I advise you to create the habit of every 90-minutes to STOP!
The STOP Method
-> S: Stop what you’re doing.
-> T: Take a breath.
-> O: Observe your body.
-> P: Proceed.
This is ‘The STOP Method’, and it is perhaps the easiest mindfulness technique you can do. You can literally STOP anytime and anywhere.
At the traffic lights. Washing the dishes. Waiting for the kettle to boil. Typing an email. Sitting on the bus… or on the toilet.
There are no excuses. This method doesn’t ask you to spend thirty minutes a day meditating. It doesn’t ask you to sit in uncomfortable positions. It doesn’t ask you to isolate yourself from everyone else in a dark room. None of that.
All it asks is that whenever you remember, take 15 seconds to stop what you’re doing, take a breath, observe your body, and then proceed with what you were doing.
Mindfulness doesn’t get any easier than that.
#3: Promote Effective Self-Talk
You’ve now taken the first two steps to prioritise effective thinking. You have identified your ineffective thinking, and you have learned how to put a STOP to it.
The next step is to neutralise your ineffective thinking by reframing your negative thoughts with a positive thought.
This is where the strategy of ‘Inserting the But’ comes in. We used this strategy to break through procrastination by nullifying the unhelpful conclusions that arise from excuse-making and ‘Inserting the But’ to develop more helpful conclusions.
When used to neutralise the negative self-talk that arises from ineffective thinking, the principle is the same.
For instance, the ineffective mindset of ‘self-doubt’ can be paralysing, preventing you from taking action and pursuing your goals.
Here you need to challenge your self-doubt through self-confidence by ‘Inserting the But’ so that you can get unstuck and start moving forward toward your goals.
Another ineffective mindset, that of ‘personalisation’, involves unfairly assuming blame for external events and outcomes, which can lead to unnecessary guilt and stress.
Here you need to reframe this thought pattern through self-compassion by also ‘Inserting the But’ so that you begin accepting that you’re not at fault for every external occurrence and that you can only control your own actions and reactions.
Inserting the ‘BUT”
Let’s now discuss some examples of how ‘Inserting the But’ can help you neutralise ineffective thinking and negative self-talk.
Negative self-talk: “I’ll never be able to succeed in this new job. I don’t have the skills or experience.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… I can always ask for more training and supervision while I work so I can build my skills and experience.”
Negative self-talk: “If I don’t ace this presentation, my entire career will be ruined.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… even if I don’t do so well, there will always be another opportunity to put myself forward and advance my career.”
Negative self-talk: “If I can’t commit to working out for an hour every day, there’s no point in even trying to get in shape.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… fitness and health is a marathon, not a sprint, and each step no matter how small is a step in the right direction.”
Negative self-talk: “I messed up that report, so I’m terrible at my job and always will be.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… I am learning to be more accepting of my mistakes and learning to use them as stepping-stones to my success.”
Negative self-talk: “I’m such a failure. I can’t do anything right, and I’ll never be successful.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… I choose to focus on ‘The Strength in Me’ and not my weaknesses, as that is the path to success.”
-> Mind Reading:
Negative self-talk: “I just know my coworkers are talking behind my back and criticising my work.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… I don’t have ESP, so there’s no point in second-guessing myself. What’s more, what other people think of me is none of my business.”
Negative self-talk: “It’s my fault that the project failed. I should have done more to prevent it.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… I’m not responsible for the entire world, only for myself. I accept responsibility for my actions or inaction, but not for others’.”
-> Should Statements:
Negative self-talk: “I should be working late every night to prove my dedication to the company.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… I choose to prioritise my own mental, emotional, and physical health, otherwise I could suffer burnout.”
Negative self-talk: “Despite all the praise I received for my presentation, I can’t stop thinking about the one person who didn’t seem impressed.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… although I’d like everyone to praise and like me, that’s not realistic. I choose to focus on those who value and support me, not those who don’t see my value.”
-> Discounting the Positive:
Negative self-talk: “Sure, I got a promotion, but it was probably just luck. I’m not really that capable.”
Positive self-talk: “BUT… I will not listen to the imposter in my mind, I will strengthen the voice of positivity by listening to it instead.”
- Mindfulness is a mental state characterised by present-moment awareness and non-judgemental observation, often cultivated through practices like meditation.
- Mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve emotional well-being, and enhance overall mental clarity and resilience.
- Use ‘The STOP Method’ to be mindful any time of the day.
- When you change your thinking, you literally change the way you experience the world.
- The strategy of ‘Inserting the BUT’ neutralises the negative self-talk that arises from ineffective thinking.