Everyday there are over 60,000 thoughts running through our mind. The good news is that most of them are unconscious or we'd go crazy!

The bad news is that yes, they are unconscious. Plus, most of them are the same thoughts we had yesterday, last week, or three months ago. But the even more unfortunate fact is that a good majority of these thoughts - conscious and unconscious - are negative put-downs directed at our own self.

Have you ever caught yourself saying any of these statements? (Or your own personal variaitions?)

- I'm too old
- I'm such a klutz
- That was a stupid thing to say
- I can't do that because....
- I'm ugly, or fat, or too thin, or....

What’s scary is these thoughts can go through our mind so automatically that we don't even realize we're thinking them. And they usually come riding in on a wave of emotions that can range anywhere from light sarcasm to utter disgust.

Just think what this is doing to our self-esteem. Not to mention our attitudes!

Truth is our words have power. They have power to affect our thoughts and feelings, and our actions and beliefs. They affect the people in our lives and everything around us.

Test it out yourself. Say something kind to your child, spouse, or a co-worker and notice their response. Then, say something negative or critical and notice the difference in their reaction. Notice the difference in how each one makes you feel.

Often though, we say mean things about our self that we would never say to someone else. What’s worse, we believe them! Statements like the examples above are "affirmations" – declarations that something is true. The question is, what are you affirming is true about your self? What are the results you're experiencing from these statements? Do these statements make you feel good about yourself, or not so good?

If you're not feeling a sense of happiness and well-being as you go through your day, chances are you're experiencing the results of negative thinking or self-limiting beliefs, which are essentially, negative thought patterns. That's okay. The good news is that you can change your self-talk, that internal dialogue which is basically a stream of affirmations.

It’s important to remember that with every word we think or say, we are "affirming" and creating our life experiences. So working to rid ourselves of negative thinking and limiting beliefs is critical to living a fulfilling life.

How do you get out of the negativity trap? The first step is to become aware of your self-talk. When you catch yourself saying or thinking something negative or limiting about yourself, write it down. Start keeping a log of your internal dialogue and notice the corresponding feelings that accompany it.

Step two is to turn those negative, limiting statements into positive affirmations. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when creating and working with affirmations:

1. Keep them in the present tense - as if they are already true. "I am" or “I have” are good ways to begin.

2. Avoid the word "not" and its variations. For instance, "I am not fat" or even "I am no longer fat" keeps the focus on "fat". "I am healthy and trim" would be a better choice.

3. Be frugal with the wording. You're not writing a treatise here. If one affirmation fills up more than half of a 3x5 index card, go back to the drawing board. Short and to the point is best.

4. Put some emotion behind them. Feelings turbo charge our words giving them even more power. When you state your affirmation, dive in and really feel how wonderful it is that your statement is, indeed true.

5. Turn them into a song. This not only makes them easier to remember, it also makes them more fun! Here’s an example sung to the tune “The Farmer in the Dell” – “I’m healthy, fit, and trim. I’m healthy, fit, and trim. I love my body now. I’m healthy, fit, and trim.” (from "13 Affirmation Songs on Melodies You Already Know.")

Remember, the bulk of our internal dialogue is made up of the 60,000 habitual thoughts that run through our subconscious and conscious mind. Changing these habitual thoughts is the same as changing any kind of habit. It takes conscious daily practice doing the "new" until the new becomes the habit – usually about 25-30 days. And just like doing anything new, it’s probably going to feel uncomfortable at first. But your diligence and stick-to-it-iveness will pay off in the long run.

Here are just a few benefits of working with positive affirmations and getting out of the negativity trap:

- less stress
- more energy and vitality
- increased confidence and self-esteem
- improved ability in whatever area you’re working on
- greater sense of happiness and well-being

Copyright © 2008 Becky Waters

Author's Bio: 

Becky Waters is a Spiritual Life Coach whose passion is to help her clients move past their fears, discover their true selves, and get on with the passionate pursuit of their dreams. She is co-author of the book, "Success and Happiness: Leading experts reveal their secrets," editor/author of the "TIPs for the Journey" monthly ezine, and composer/creator of numerous guided meditations. Get her free report, "3 Steps to a Better Life Write Now" at www.YourSoulJourneyCoaching.com