Healthy Thoughts For A Healthy Life
by Dr. Gladys Ato
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” –Mahatma Gandhi
Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, organic, paleo…it seems like each day people are becoming more concerned about their diets. If you’re like most people, you know exactly what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner yesterday. If you’re really dedicated, then you probably have all the calories and grams of protein logged into one of your phone apps.
Although I’m a big proponent of having a healthy diet, people often don’t have the same level of discipline with what they’re feeding their minds. No, I’m not talking about eating more fish for brain power or taking a supplement for better mental clarity. I’m talking about what sort of healthy thoughts you feed your mind each day: your emotional diet.
Think about it for a sec: when was the last time you checked in with yourself to see how you’re doing? Do you regularly monitor your thoughts? How many of them are negative self-talk (I can’t; it won’t work for me; it’s too hard) vs. empowering, motivational talk (I will; I am; things are working out for me; I’m up for the challenge)?
The practice of being aware of your thoughts and hand-picking them (just like that organic kale you got at the farmer’s market last weekend) is called self-awareness.
Feeding your mind negative thoughts is the equivalent of filling your body with high fructose corn syrup, twinkies, and potato chips. If you want to build a lifestyle that supports you in achieving your highest aspirations, it’s going to require being aware of yourself and choosing healthy thoughts to feed your mind, body, and heart.
When you start a new diet, what’s the first thing you do? Raid the fridge and pantry and toss out all of the junk, right? Well, the same goes for your emotional diet.
In order to have a healthy mind and life, you need to rid yourself of built-up negativity and decrease the negative self-talk. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but one simple way is to literally throw them away. As crazy as it might sound, write down your negative thoughts and then toss them in the trash. Here’s how:
- Write down your negative thoughts on a piece of paper. Don’t censor yourself. Get it all out…blame, judgment, anger. Dump it all onto the paper or type out the thoughts. Put the paper or document aside.
- Think of what healthy thoughts you want to replace the negative ones. How do you want to feel? What are you grateful for? What new thoughts do you want to move forward with?
- As you get ready to toss out the negative thoughts, fill your mind with these new, empowering thoughts. When you crumble up the paper or drag the document to the trash folder, repeat the empowering thoughts over in your mind.
- End by giving thanks to those negative thoughts as you say goodbye to them.
In my upcoming book, The Good Goodbye, self-awareness is at the heart of my four action approach to letting go with grace and making room for a new future. You have to frequently look at yourself and the life you’ve created in order to see what’s working for you and what’s not. If there’s something holding you back, you need to identify and part ways with it to make space for something new — something that will help you flourish.
There are a lot of people out there who teach the art of self-awareness. Mahatma Gandhi, Tony Robbins, Oprah, and Deepak Chopra, just to name a few. But as any of them will tell you, it’s not an overnight process.
Self-awareness is a practice that evolves over time — a lot of time. It requires discipline and more importantly, a deep desire to get to know and understand yourself on an intimate level.
For many of us, the thought of taking the time to know ourselves this deeply freaks us out, especially if we’re trying to just keep our heads above the water with all the stress in life. And what’s the natural response when we’re freaked out about something? To run the other way, avoid it, and distract ourselves with something that doesn’t make us so freaking uncomfortable!
In a previous blog, I suggested an exercise to help you with this. In case you missed it, here it is.
Even if you already did the exercise, it doesn’t hurt to do it again…and again. You have to create an ongoing dialogue with yourself by regularly checking in with your mind, body, and heart. Engaging this “team” is going to help you make powerfully informed choices and fill the space in your life with what will most help you grow.
Just like having a healthy body takes good habits, diligence, and patience — so does having a healthy mind. Achieving a high level of self-awareness requires constantly monitoring your thoughts and habits, weeding out those that aren’t propelling you forward, carefully replacing them with healthy thoughts, and then filling the space with new actions to support your big dreams.
If you’re ready to create an emotional diet that helps you thrive, start by downloading your complimentary guide, Stop These 7 Incredibly Draining Habits to Get Your Life Back on Track. This practical resource will help you replace common, energy-sucking behaviors with simple actions to restore your energy and confidence.
Is this a lot of work? Yes. Can you do it? Absolutely! Just take your time and increase your self-awareness day by day. The tradeoff for all of this is an optimal lifestyle that will leave you feeling happier and more fulfilled while setting you up for achieving your highest aspirations.
Dr. Gladys Ato is a personal development strategist and educator. She founded Bridging Consciousness to help high-achieving leaders transcend burnout and create an optimal lifestyle fueled by creativity, joy, and purpose.