Do you ever catch yourself in the middle of a swirl of negative self-talk? Maybe you find yourself imagining a conversation with someone you know, and before you know it, you're irritated and grumpy, maybe it's even keeping you up at night, making you restless.

What’s crazy is the control that negative thoughts can have on you when the situation has passed, and it's no longer happening! You're re-creating it in your mind! Maybe there's some unfinished business you've been considering clearing up with someone or a difficult situation at the office you could have handled better. As you create that talk in your head, you imagine their response. And in a negative spiral, it's never a good one. They overreact or get defensive. Or you picture telling a friend or family member about something exciting you're up to or planning and they're a real Debbie-downer about it. These imaginary conversations are a little nuts, right? But here's the thing. People have them ALL THE TIME: often without being aware they're doing it.

The good news is that, if you're reading this and recognize yourself in what I just described, then you're already on your way to ending this anxiety-making, anger-producing, joy-killing habit.

The first time I heard this tendency described, it was by a friend of mine. She told me she'd noticed that she was turning a perfectly happy, good start to her day into one where she started feeling a little agitated, grumpy, a bit out-of-sorts. An important piece to solving where her self-created bad mood came from was realizing that it always happened... in the shower! Crazy! She saw that this point in her day was one of the few when she had nothing on her mind and was free to let her mind wander. She realized that she essentially put a cloud over what had at first promised to be a pretty good day.

Of course, this doesn't happen only in the shower. This same kind of time vacuum happens to people while driving, in the middle of the day when they take a break for a cup of coffee, etc. It may happen to you as you fall asleep at night. The problem with a time vacuum is that it allows thoughts to creep in. If you, like some people, have a tendency for negative brain chatter, wouldn't you want to change that?

Well, here's my SOLUTION. It's simple but requires your thoughtful attention and commitment to break the habit... FOR GOOD.


You can do this by using the word "Stop" the second you become aware that you are choosing negative talk. You may want to say it out loud at first (shout if you have to) while you develop the habit of interrupting the negative thoughts. Some people tell that calm-sabotaging little voice to shut up, or even swear at it. DO WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU. Try different phrases and, once you find one that works, copy/paste it to use in the future. Make it your "go-to" for shutting down the rumination conversation.


This step is key. Our minds don't like vacuums. They will fill space as soon as it becomes available. And if up until now the pattern has been one of negative thoughts, that will likely happen again if you don't first create a POWERFUL, SPECIFIC arsenal of positive thoughts to put there first.

Here are some examples to get you started. Actively bring the following to mind:

What you're looking forward to today - a project you're excited to work on, lunch with a friend, that class or bike ride you'll be taking later. Or next week, or next month: perhaps a vacation or holiday,

Or recall a great conversation you had, a person who makes you smile, that song that lights you up, a movie that made you laugh, a special moment where someone did you a kindness, or you did one for them.

There is magic in applying Step 2 to your life. It's the secret known by truly happy people. People who have a profound impact on their moods, their day, their life. All because they pay attention to their thoughts, and choose them with care. That makes all the difference!

By Dr. Lee Odescalchi

Author's Bio: 

Lee Odescalchi is a coach and licensed psychologist. She has coached and counseled clients, just like you, looking for more fulfilling lives. Her unique approach uses the most effective methods of personal development and performance strategies. She does this while addressing issues from the past that have led to self-limiting beliefs that get in the way of your success. Lee also empowers people to “get out of their own way” and maximize their strengths so they can produce extraordinary results… in any area of their life.