In the center of everyone’s being is a place of pure peace. But as we embark on life’s journey, we tend to taken away from this sense of self thanks to social conditioning and challenging life circumstances.
However, by practicing mindfulness, we can learn to become aware of these conditioned thought patterns and instead let go to feel a sense of liberation.
How to release negative thought patterns
The main reason we disconnect from our true selves is through habitual negative thinking. In the competitive society we live in, it can become rather easy to cast self-doubt or even critize yourself things that go wrong.
This can happen so regularly that you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
So, the first question is, how can you become aware of these conditioned negative thought patterns?
The best way is to use mindfulness to become an observer of your mind. By taking a step back and simply watching your mind, you can begin to recognize negative thoughts and realize that if you’re observing them, then they’re not really you.
The moment you recognize these thoughts is the very moment you’re able to challenge them.
Perhaps spiritual guru Osho says it best:
“Become an observer of the currents of thought that flow through your consciousness. Just like someone sitting by the side of a river watching the river flow by, sit by the side of your mind and watch….Don’t do anything, don’t interfere, don’t stop them in any way. Don’t repress in any way. If there is a thought coming don’t stop it, if it is not coming don’t try to force it to come. You are simply to be an observer….
“In that simple observation you will see and experience that your thoughts and you are separate – because you can see that the one who is watching the thoughts is separate from the the thoughts, different from them. And you become aware of this, a strange peace will envelop you because you will not have any more worries. You can be in the midst of all kinds of worries but the worries will not be yours. You can in the midst of many problems but the problems will not be yours. You can be surrounded by thoughts but you will not be the thoughts…
“And if you become aware that you are not your thoughts, the life of these thoughts will begin to grow weaker, they will begin to become more and more lifeless….”
Here is a 4 step mindfulness action plan to let go of negative thoughts
1) The first step to recognize and accept that you have having a negative thought.
2) Say “Stop!” in your head.
3) Challenge the thought asking questions, such as “What evidence is there for this negative thought?” It’s likely that there really isn’t any evidence.
4) Replace the thought with something more rational or positive. For example, if you think that “everyone dislikes me”, then try thinking of all the people who are your friends and who you’ve made feel happy before.
Simply by practising this as often as you can, you’ll learn to observe the mind and understand that these negative thoughts aren’t really you. By challenging these thoughts, you’ll also gradually rewire your brain to let go of negativity so you can be more positive.