Each of us holds countless mind-programs in our heads that influence how we respond to and feel about life situations. Some of these programs are for our benefit, but some are harmful to us. In today’s long and nutritious article 🙂 you will learn how to unlearn negative programs and finally not let these negative programs control your life anymore.
Since childhood, we have programmed patterns of interpreting situations, our behavior, and our feelings.
For example, your programs will affect how you behave if your boss yells at you. However, your programs will also influence what work you choose in the first place, and how successful and satisfied you will be in it. They also affect your life’s partner, financial situation, health, and basically everything that is part of your life.
Only a small percentage of people are aware of these programs and know, how to unlearn them. The rest of the world is subconsciously controlled by all the programs they have “installed” in their heads during childhood and adolescence.
Negative programs are the reason for our dissatisfaction, bad decisions, quarrels, and generally all the bad feelings we experience in our daily lives.
Today you will finally learn how to unlearn negative programs that were created in the past and they don’t serve you anymore.
Types of thoughts
In the article Negative mindset: the truth about how to break free, you’ve learned that no thought in itself is yet a program.
It depends on what associations you have created for this thought. Whether there are pleasant, unpleasant or no feelings attached to these thoughts.
Thoughts that do not evoke any emotions in us are neutral thoughts and do not work in our lives. There is, therefore, no point in dealing with these thoughts.
The thoughts that make us feel good are positive thoughts, and of course, we will not get rid of such thoughts. 🙂
Only thoughts that create unpleasant feelings in us, ie negative thoughts, bring chaos and suffering to our lives. For the rest of the article, therefore, we will deal with this group of thoughts.
How to get rid of negative thoughts
In the previous article, we defined the negative program as the following process:
Situation – thought – association – unpleasant feeling
So there are two levels on which I can work with my thoughts:
- complete removal of the thought: I change with what thought I interpret the situation – ie how I evaluate the situation
- I leave the thought, but I break its connection to the unpleasant feeling: changing the association of thought
1. Removing the thought
Removing the thought is possible through positive thinking and affirmations.
1a. Positive thinking
The first way to unlearn negative programs is to consciously try to look at everything from a fresh point of view that gives me pleasure, not unpleasant feelings.
The essence is to identify your existing thoughts in the situation and then change them. The whole process is carried out in the following 4 steps:
- I realize that I feel uncomfortable in a certain situation
- Then I realize what thoughts “flipped through” my head in this situation and made me feel uncomfortable
- I decide to change this thought and find an alternative thought that I would like to adopt in my opinion system
- Application of a new thought
I’m at a company party, the alcohol level is rising, and suddenly I notice a colleague making fun of me. A group of people laughs at his jokes and my cheeks turn red. I feel rage, humiliation, and shame. I turn on the heel and run to the safety of the local toilets. Or I decide- nobody will make fun of me, I’ll show him! Come straight to him and punch him in his face.
Neither option is exactly the ideal solution to the situation, and moreover, from the way I perceive the situation, I experience a pretty terrible feeling.
And this is how you change your mindset:
- I realize that the situation is unpleasant – that’s not difficult. 🙂 I also realize that at the moment some of my negative programs woke up. Whenever something bothers us in the world and in life, it is some kind of negative program. I decide not to make hasty conclusions under the power of negation.
- I realize what thoughts evoked unpleasant emotions at the moment – “he’s mocking at me“, “he’s being mean to me“, “they are laughing to me“, “they don’t respect me“, “I feel stupid“, “I’m ashamed of myself“, “they don’t like me”… etc.
- I will understand that these thoughts work against me and that I don’t have to accept them. I am looking for another explanation of the situation which does not evoke unpleasant feelings in me. For example, “a colleague is just trying to impress. It is nothing personal. ” Or “he’s trying to show that it is better than me because he feels inferior.” Or “he scoffs at me because he is really jealous of me and can’t deal with his feelings otherwise.” Or, “he just has a bad sense of humor.”
- I accept this new interpretation. The result is that I calm down and my colleague’s actions stop bothering me. I understand that this is not an insult to me, in fact, his behavior speaks more about him than about me. At that moment, I can decide if I just let it go, or even join the joke and make fun of myself.
The sense of positive thinking is to learn to perceive glass as half full, instead of half empty. The situation is the same at first glance, but different perceptions of the situation give me different feelings.
Affirmations are also an important aid.
Affirmation means repeating a statement I want to apply to my thought system and it’s another way to unlearn negative programs.
In some cases, a negative thought can be “beat” by a positive thought. The principle of the method is to turn what I believe at the moment.
If I believe I am poor, I will repeat that “I am rich”. Usually, in the beginning, our brain disagrees and opposes me- “No, I’m poor. What you say is a lie and nonsense, I am not rich.” It is necessary to persevere and to repeat the thought every day. After some time, the brain should stop defending itself and accept this belief.
It is best to confirm this new thought not only by repeating the affirmation but also by changing overall behavior and thinking.
Don’t contradict yourself
If we keep the example of repeating the affirmation “I am rich,” it is also necessary to start behaving and thinking as if you were already rich.
If you repeat “I am rich” for two minutes each morning, and for the next 23 hours and 58 minutes of the day you think like a poor person, you will not achieve anything.
Imagine you have as much money as you always wanted and think about how you would behave. What would be different in your life? If you had an expensive car, would you care for him better? Would you even wash it by hand? Or would you treat your expensive shoes better, washing them every Sunday? Would you feel bad every time you have to pay or be happy that you can afford it?
If you see that you walk past a showcase and say, “I can’t afford this,” you contradict yourself. Keep track of your thoughts, and turn everything that doesn’t fit the rich man’s mindset.
I can’t afford this – I can afford this! I have to save money – I can spend money! And instead, I have only a little money – I have more than enough money!
At the same time, it is clear that at this point you will not start spending all the money you have. The main thing is how you feel and how you speak to yourself.
Even if you’re shopping at discounts, don’t say, “I’m buying at discounts because I’m poor and can’t afford it,” no. Rejoice in making a bargain because you’re doing so well with money!
2. Eliminate emotions
The thing is, a thought itself is not harmful. So we do not have to get rid of the thought as such. The problem arises only when an uncomfortable feeling comes as an association with this thought.
So you unlearn the negative programs by destroying the association and by removing the negative charge from the thought.
If we remove the negative charge from the negative thought, it becomes neutral. It will no longer have any effect on us – it will not bring us an unpleasant feeling and thus distort the perception of the whole situation.
How to turn a negative thought into a neutral thought?
Conciliation and acceptance
Another way to finally unlearn negative programs in life is to learn how to accept a thought. How to stop fighting with it internally, thus releasing its negative emotions.
For example, you may be annoyed that you are not smart/ you are fat/ someone else is better/ you do not have what you want/ fill in your own negative thoughts. As soon as you accept this thought, the energy will release from it, and suddenly it will not bother you.
I know how strange it sounds, and if I didn’t have so much personal experience with this method, I would hardly believe it myself. But if you know the right methods to accept a thought, you can really accept anything.
Even the most painful and awful thoughts like “I don’t want to die“, “I’m useless“, “nobody likes me“, “I’m fat and ugly, not worth anything“, “my father is an aggressive asshole“, “I am alcoholic“, “I’ve lost my mother” can be accepted.
I am not saying it’s always easy but it can be done. As long as we don’t accept this thought, it will bring us suffering in our lives.
The first step in reconciling to a given situation is to have the right intention set, which will be discussed next time.
Then the whole process is carried out in the following steps:
- Identifying a thought that bothers me
- Finding a moment when I associatively added an uncomfortable feeling to this thought
- Accepting the thought
We are again at the company party, where our colleague is making fun of me. I can deal with the situation directly at the party, or then back home, depending on how well I’ve already handled the method.
- I identify a thought that bothers me. For example, “he mocks at me.”
- I remember the first time someone had mocked at me in my life. I recall the third grade, standing in front of the blackboard, and forgetting the words of the poem. The children scoff at me, and my face flushes red. It is exactly the same feeling I have at a party now.
- I will accept this though.
“I accept that… (what bothers you).” e.g. I accept that they mock at me.
How acceptance works
This is the way of accepting in oral form. You can read more about this method in the book: Method RUS – I have it differently. I have read a lot of personal development books over the past decade, but this book personally meant a 1000% upward change.
Acceptance is possible not only in oral form but also in written form.
The written form of acceptance is described, for example, by the monk Dandapani. He calls the technique Vasana Daha Tantra and works as follows: you take a piece of paper, write down your negative experience, and then crumple and burn the paper.
The point is to move the emotions from the mind to the paper and then get rid of that emotion completely during the burning.
In the video, Dandapani asks an interesting question – why do you have to deal with annoying experience when it is said that time will heal all the wounds?
Dandapani emphasizes that time does not heal wounds. Bad experiences need to be actively tackled. We can no longer change the experience we have gone through, but we can change the emotion we have associatively attached to this experience (and the thoughts we had at the moment).
3. Combination of both methods
The last method that can be used to unlearn negative programs. It combines the removal of thought and the change of associations, is meditation. Meditation is another great way how to deal with the past.
The essence of meditation is to lower your brain waves and enter your subconscious. This is where the subconscious associations, thought patterns and behavior patterns that we have created in our lives can be changed and removed.
If you would like to try this method, the four-week program to build a new neural network is described in detail in the book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, which I have already discussed in the article: How to hack your mind: insider scientific explanation.
In the first week, only meditation practice takes place. Most of us must first learn to meditate properly and get into a state of lower brain waves. There you can then work with your neural network.
The next steps in the process are the identification (recognizing) of problem habits and behavior patterns, admitting, declaring and surrendering. In the following weeks, the steps of observing, redirecting and creating follow.
If I should compare the methods, I personally am the greatest supporter of oral acceptance. It may take some time to learn how to use this method properly, but it is an investment – the method can then be used throughout life and in all areas of your life. I agree that writing it may also function, but it seems much faster to repeat it out loud than writing it on paper.
I personally have the least experience with meditation. It takes a few weeks for a person to train his mind to get to the lower brain waves in the first place. However, some people are very successful with this method, and everyone likes something different. Therefore, if this method attracts you, feel free to try it, and I will be very glad if you let me know about your experience with it.
Affirmations and positive thinking are wonderful in that they are easy to use, but if the negative programs are very strong, it requires a lot of self-control and self-reflection to master them and maintain a positive setting. Unless you master and suppress them, the negative programs inside you will still function and influence your life.
So you can say aloud that you are rich, but inside you will always feel poor. And in such a situation, positive thinking and affirmations will never really work. Therefore, I personally combine acceptance and affirmation with positive thinking.
Summary: How to unlearn negative programs?
Deal with your programs once and for all using one of the following methods:
- positive thinking
An important starting point before changing your mindset is also a well-defined intention. It will influence how well we manage to work with the mind and in what direction we will develop in our lives. You will learn how to set up your intention in the next article.