How to Break Through Negative Thought Patterns

Can I get real with you right now? I did something crazy this summer.

(It’s kind of embarrassing, but it’s coming up as a story that needs to be told. I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to this feeling, to put aside my ego and be of service.)

Here’s what happened. After the epic labor and birth of our baby – which I have compared to being in a street fight with my own body – I needed surgery.

Afterward, the nurse offered me a Motrin. Given that, you know, the anesthetic was going to wear off, and it wasn’t going to feel good.

Without hesitating, I said … “No thanks!”

Negative Thought Patterns at Work

Turning down a Motrin after surgery sounds crazy, unless you know how the brain works. See, when your system is spent and your brain is tired, it tends to run along the tracks that are easiest to follow. Past programming is the path of least resistance.

In that moment of exhaustion and emotional overwhelm, I didn’t make a rational, thoughtful decision. Instead, I defaulted to an old belief system.

The underlying beliefs running the show were as follows:

“Don’t take any pain medication if you don’t need it. (Read: if you’re not in agony.) Don’t take medication unless you absolutely have to.”

And more devastating: “It doesn’t matter if you’re in pain. It doesn’t matter if you suffer.”

negative thought patterns

The point isn’t how I learned those negative thought patterns. The point is that I hooked into them easily, quickly, and without much volition.

That is the power of underlying thoughts and limiting beliefs – they run your life almost without you knowing it. They lead you to make unhealthy and unhelpful decisions, because you simply don’t see another way forward.

They’re just constructs in your brain, but they have the power to pin you down in pain and suffering.

Clarity Breakthrough

When the nurse offered me a Motrin and I said no, she looked at me, puzzled. Then she exchanged a glance with my husband, Jonathan. Their expressions were concerned; I read them as, “Whoa, Caroline is SO not thinking straight.”

To her credit, though, the nurse was respectful: “Okay! If you change your mind, just give me a call.” Jonathan was respectful too. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember his concern for my well-being.

His compassionate response brought me back to the present moment and helped me to snap out of the crazy. Soon I called the nurse back and asked for that Motrin. (It was the first of many.)

What About You?

Have you ever done something like this?

Have you ever let yourself run on autopilot and end up somewhere you never meant to be? Or – be honest – do you run on autopilot a lot of the time?

Do you do all the things you’re supposed to and then procrastinate and talk yourself out of the thing you actually WANT to do?

Do you take care of everyone else and neglect your own well-being?

Do you listen to those internal gremlins day in and day out – the ones that tell you you’re not good enough?

If so – good news. I’m making something new for you about exactly this issue.

negative thought patterns

It’s a free 5 day video series called Manage Your Mind & Make Progress: Break Through the Negative Thought Patterns That Hold You Back.

In this series, you’ll learn:

  • The #1 reason why you haven’t been able to shift your negative thought patterns up until now
  • A proven escape hatch from the pain of negative thoughts
  • How to retrain your brain and stop procrastinating
  • What to do when managing your mind just isn’t working!
  • How to stand in your power and choose wisely

So, here’s my challenge for you:

Leave a comment below and tell me ONE negative thought pattern that pains you and limits your life.

(For example, “It doesn’t matter if you suffer.”)

I’ll address as many as I can on the series next week.

The series starts Monday, February 10th, and if you’re subscribed to the email list, you’ll receive the first video in your inbox at 9am Central Time. See you then!

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25 thoughts on “How to Break Through Negative Thought Patterns

  1. Diana Barron says:

    It’s become pointless to make major plans for my life, because something will prevent me from carrying them out.

  2. Shona says:

    I think I’d have to go with: “I’ll never figure this out.” Where “this” can be a loooooooooooooooot of different things.

  3. Mira says:

    Other things are more important to get done than my getting in exercise…

    T.V. is a pattern that has a hold of me…. it goes back to memories of my mother and… trying to be like her? It makes no sense but… I struggle with this.

    • Ah, Mira, I hear you on that one – of course you’d put off exercise if you believe that getting other things done is more important. With the TV pattern, it sounds like there’s an energetic, emotional connection there. I’ll be sure to cover that in the series next week (probably on day 4). In the meantime, if you’d like to share more – what does the TV pattern look like right now? When do you tend to watch more than you want to?

    • Ah Morag, I hear you on that – it’s really tough to get started if there’s no point and an interruption will ruin it anyway! I’m curious, what’s the activity in question when this thought arises?

  4. Susan says:

    “You don’t have what it takes” (so often feeling as though I fumble my way through the big and the small in life)

  5. Taylor says:

    It’s hard to make friends &/ or put myself out there – especially when there is a group already established. And girls can be very cliquey so I’m just going to keep to myself.

    • Taylor, my heart goes out to you – I’ve had those same thoughts as well. Makes it really difficult to risk new relationships, doesn’t it? I will make sure to include these in next week’s series, and offer ways to shift them.

  6. Barbara

    I’m happy to be ‘part’ of this group. I enjoy talking with others and listening to what is on their mind but I do not drive a car and depend on other people to take me places.
    I always like grocery shopping because that is one way I CAN chat with others.
    I’m sure this group will guide me. Patience, Barb, patience.

    • Barbara, thank you for sharing this! To clarify, what’s the painful thought that comes up in this case? Is it “I depend on other people to take me places,” or something different? Thank you again for joining the conversation.

  7. Bridget says:

    I’m such a failure at …
    (being a mom, being a spouse, boundaries, keeping promises to myself, and a whole host of other stuff)

    • Oh Bridget, I’m sending some compassion your way – those painful thoughts play in my head at times too, and they hurt. Thank you for having the courage to post and share here. I will make sure to include these in the series next week, and give you practical ways to feel better.

    • Ah yes, the insidious, “I’ll take care of myself later.” That one hooks me in at times too. Thank you for posting this, Angela. I will include it in the series next week for sure.

  8. Alyson says:

    I just realized this week that I talk myself out of doing the things I actually want to do. I even make fun adventurous lists!

    it’s just not me normally and I didn’t even connect this to negative talk, until now.
    Do I need to give myself permission to be messy and creative to explore more ?! Excited for what your planning!

    • Alyson, I’ve done that too! Do you have a sense for what thought is getting in your way of actually going on those adventures? Tell me more – you make the list, and then what happens? For example, maybe it’s something like, “That’s not practical” … ?

  9. Oh my gosh, not only can I relate, but I can relate to the same exact thing!! After my second emergency cesarean, I completely went for that same thought pattern you did and eased off my pain meds as soon as I came home – I was feeling GREAT!! Unfortunately, the reason I was feeling great is that the pain meds hadn’t worn off yet – I pushed my body (because it felt just fine!) and ended up in excruciating pain once the meds wore off. Trying to get back on top of the pain of surgery was SO intense. I learned the hard way about the importance of caring for my body vs. pushing it to the max, especially as a new mama!

    • Oh my goodness, Ashley, thank you so much for sharing this here. My heart goes out to you having been through that. It’s brave of you to share, and it means a lot to know that I’m not the only one. And I definitely appreciate that reminder to treat my body with care and kindness rather than push-to-the-max energy. A tough lesson for me too, but such an important one.

  10. Stacey says:

    Hello Caroline – one of my limiting beliefs stems from childhood…my parents did a WONDERFUL job not making us (my sisters and I) not feel “poor”, we had Christmas’ that were amazing etc. We were told the “sky is the limit” and that we can “do anything we set our minds too”. However somewhere along the line, seeing them work so hard for everything recorded a message inside me that said “poor people HAVE to work hard for everything” and they “can dream, but the dream must be realistic and the sky was NOT the limit”. I have a feeling this is a common theme for a lot of people so I thought I would share. PS. my dad grew up wealthy as a child and ultimately was poor so I also somehow recorded that I don’t “need money” and “money is the root of all evils”. That family is the only thing that matters. While family is the most important thing for sure I am trying to make a new recording that makes it ok to have money, family and that things don’t always have to be so hard to achieve. πŸ™‚

    • hi Stacey! Thank you so much for sharing this here. You bring up an important point that even when we hear positive messages such as “the sky’s the limit”, we make our own meaning and interpretations of the world we see around us. It sounds like you are coming to a place of choosing your own beliefs with care, and I applaud you! I’ll be sure to include this in the series next week. There’s so much great material on this thread and I appreciate you posting.

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