Rewire Your Brain: 7 Days to A New Positive You

Do you know someone who constantly sees only the negative things in life?

If it rains its not just raining it’s, “absolutely miserable outside.”

Or, every story on the evening news triggers the, “People are more rotten than ever. Our world is doomed,” response?

And worse still, even if something good were to happen, such as winning the lottery, the Sky is Falling types cannot control their impulse to tack on the, “Yeah, but now I have to deal with all these financial planners hounding me!” retort.

Individuals like these have gotten into what is referred to as a negative feedback loop, and truly cannot help themselves. They’ve programmed themselves by repeating negative thoughts to the point where they have literally carved a neural pathway in the brain with these habitual responses. No matter what happens in their lives they perceive everything negatively, and respond on auto-pilot.

Your brain can be re-wired

A lot has been written about the promising research in brain plasticity in the last few years, which is the brain’s ability to reshape neural pathways even if  they’ve been ingrained for decades. With physical therapy new neural pathways can be forged even after strokes damage areas of the brain to help patients re-learn lost abilities such as walking and speaking. And, this same concept can also be applied to habitual negative thinkers who can retrain their brain’s to think and respond more positively.

I got to thinking about the subject of neural plasticity because of an article I read titled, “Rewire your brain to combat negative thinking, easy steps,” in Monsters and Critics.com. Author and therapist, Patt Lind-Kyle was interviewed for her newest book which is about rewiring the brain to “kick the chronic negativity habit for good.”

The article reminded me of a small but powerful booklet titled, “The 7 Day Mental Diet,” I’d read written way back in 1935 by Emmet Fox , an eminent New Thought writer from the early part of the century. While I haven’t read Lind-Kyle’s book, which I’m sure is full of great ideas and exercises to rewire the brain, I couldn’t help but think of this simple but powerful 19 page booklet that helped me overcome my negative programming very effectively.

Change your thinking – change your life

Fox states that you can change your life in a week if you focus very  intently upon your every thought. He says you, “must watch yourself for a whole week as a cat watches a mouse, and you must not under any pretense allow your mind to dwell on any thought that is not positive, constructive, optimistic, kind.

He admits that this will not be easy which is why he prescribes starting with just a week. But, within one week, “the habit of positive thinking will begin to be established.” In other words, new neural pathways will begin developing in the brain.

After the first seven days I chose to continue on the mental diet for another twenty-one days. I was amazed at what I learned about myself. The hyper-vigilance I applied to watching my thoughts revealed that I did have areas where my thoughts were undermining my successes – even though anyone who knows me would say I’m a pretty positive person. I found that much of my self-talk was extremely negative which dragged down my self-esteem.

Examining my thoughts so closely made me see that my self-esteem was much too dependent upon what others thought of me. Beliefs such as thinking you’re attractive makes you vain, or admitting you’re smart makes you a show-off, and speaking up about what you want means you’re pushy, etc.,  were feedback loops that kept me from going after what I truly wanted in life. While I have never been a chronically negative person there was vast room for improvement.

An evolution in my thinking

“The 7 Day Mental Diet” was an eye-opener and just the beginning of a journey I have been on for more than half my life now. When I was first introduced to the concept of “change your thinking and change your life” it was life altering. Like most people I’d never paid any attention to my thoughts; frankly I didn’t even know you could do that. I had no idea where to begin until I came across Fox’s “Diet” which gave me a structure to follow. When I committed to it, I saw my life change rapidly.

While I can’t prove that I did forge new neural pathways I can state for sure that “The Diet” taught me to become aware of my thinking patterns; a habit I continue to this day. Interrupting my negative thoughts as they occurred derailed them from the habitual path they followed. This allowed me to redirect them and eventually forge new more positive ways of thinking.

Since we are what we believe, and our lives and circumstances reflect back to us what we believe – changing our thinking does change our lives.

My advice is try “The Diet.” It’s only seven days – which you’re going to live  anyway, so why not see if you can create thoughts that serve you better and improve your life in that same 7 days?

Try these 5 tips to get The Mental Diet underway:

1. Carry a small pad/notebook and write down every negative thought you have – when you have it (don’t say I’ll remember and think you can do it later – you’ll forget). Anytime you have a negative thought – say to yourself, “No!, Stop! or Cancel!” In the beginning you’ll be amazed at how many times you have to say this each day.

2. Replace negative thoughts with a new positive ones. Write down the new positive thought after the negative one. Record all of this in a small notebook – first the negative thought you  had then the positive one you’re replacing it with.

3. Look for patterns. Review your notes daily and catagorize your negative thoughts. Are you more negative in a certain area of your life vs. others such as relationships, career, money, self-esteem etc? Or, have you allowed yourself to become chronically negative in every area? Don’t worry – you can retrain your brain!

4. Create positive affirmations to override these patterns. Repeat the affirmation to yourself numerous times after becoming aware of your own negative feedback loops. Make sure you use the present tense when you come up with your affirmations. If you have difficulty with creating affirmations I highly recommend reading Louise Hay’s classic book, “You Can Heal Your Life.”

5. If you must spend time with negative thinkers don’t try to change them. Just listen politely – but do not accept what they say. Mentally tell yourself that you choose to reject this type of thinking. When you stop responding to other people’s negativity and just remain quiet, but respectful, they eventually start to hear the hollowness of their own words and change – at least around you anyway.

Good Luck! I know you can do it.

Are you aware of your own negative thoughts? What would happen if you scrubbed your mind of all negative thinking? Could you imagine living life differently, and to the fullest with nothing holding you back?

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44 Comments

    • Hi Preeti,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post.

      Reply
  1. Angela, this was wonderful! I’ve been emailing it to friends and just posted it to my Facebook account.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeanne,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing it with your friends as well.
      I really appreciate it.

      Reply
  2. I like the idea of 7 days to positivity. I like the 5 steps, specially #2, to change negative in to positive thought. That is very powerful.

    I have a gratitude journal, where I write simplest thing that I am thankful for and it actually gives me positivity a bit. Thanks Angela for uplifting post.
    Zengirl recently posted…Giving Thanks- How Gratitude Can Improve Your LifeMy Profile

    Reply
    • I love that you have a gratitude journal. That’s awesome Preeti. That will keep you on track for remaining positive for sure!

      Reply
  3. Angela,
    This is one of my favorite posts! I am lucky enough to have grown up in a very positive household. My mother is always looking for the best in life. I am the same way. However, it’s very easy to get caught up in negative thoughts. And it seems to breed other negative thoughts.

    Thanks for all the great ideas!!
    Betsu

    Reply
    • Hi Betsy,
      I’m honored to hear that this is one of your favorite posts. I’ve been a student of new thought teaching since my mid-twenties and always believed in “mind over matter” but until the findings on neural plasticity were published in the last 5 years there was no way to prove that we really do have control over matter. Thanks so much for your support Betsy. I truly appreciate it.

      Reply
  4. Angela, this is such a great post and great topic!!!! I find it amazing that some people were thinking about this in 1935. I’m a huge fan of Ernest Holmes and Norman Vincent Peale and reading the words they wrote decades ago while seeing how relevant it is now just blows my mind.

    Learning to change our thought patterns can appear to be overwhelming your five steps make it graspable.
    Aileen recently posted…A Tribute to Real Life Super HeroesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Aileen,
      Thank you. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! It is amazing what New Thought teachers were saying way back in the 20s and 30s, isn’t it? It was true – but they didn’t have a clue about the science behind it. Now we know that changing our thoughts actually physically changes our brains!

      Reply
  5. Angela, so good to see that you have been on the best kind of diet and doing something that I am just recently discovering too – When I wrote the attitude toward seasons, I was changing my thoughts about the winter – no more complaints, only finding a way to embrace – no more even thinking a negative thought, I don’t care how cold it gets – our thoughts are way more powerful….I can only wish I had learned this stuff when I was younger but for now I am happy to discover it and love the advice you dispense here…here’s to many happy thoughts!
    Farnoosh recently posted…Listening to my Readers- Launch of Blogworld ebook and the NewsletterMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Farnoosh,
      You’ve just reminded me that my thinking needs work as well. I too complain about the cold and snow and winter dark days. I keep dreaming of moving to North Carolina where the winters are less severe, but as you’ve pointed out, “our thoughts are way more powereful!” Thank you Farnoosh. I see I need a “change of diet” myself!

      Reply
  6. Hi Angela! You always introduce new things to me in your writing…and I love it. This time was Neural Plasticity. I’ve never heard of this before and actually did a little reading up on it prior writing this comment. Thanks for the introduction. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Jk,
      I’m so glad you now know about neural plasticity. It’s pretty amazing stuff that science is finding out about the brain.
      You’re so welcome! Thanks again for coming by and adding to the conversation here!

      Reply
  7. If we can change our appetite, actions and behaviours, why not our minds too? Makes sense to me Angela. A good diet of the optmistic, upbeat and feel good thoughts all washed down with a big dose of positive expectation and the brain will soon be 100% fit to fly. Treat it right and it will respond in kind. Wise words Angela and very doable by anybody which makes them even more powerful.
    John Sherry recently posted…Why I Want LoveMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi John,
      I’m so glad you found the post informative John. I love how you’ve said: A good diet of the optimistic, upbeat and feel good thoughts all washed down with a big dose of positive expectation an d the brain will soon be 100% fit to fly!
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

      Reply
  8. Angela: I really liked this one. I am definitely a believer that you can reprogram yourself. It is challenging as you mention, but by all means possible. I really like this idea of the 7 day mental diet. I know it takes consistent attention to the thoughts that are running through your mind, but I think if we are disciplined enough, we can see some great results. I think only focusing on completing 7 days also makes it feel much more doable. It is definitely a good way to begin.
    Sibyl – alternaview recently posted…What We Must Know For Sure- Our Potential – Certainty 1My Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Sibyl,
      I’m so glad you found the post useful! I totally agree focusing intently for only 7 days does feel “doable” as you say. The consistent focus for 7 days is definitely enough to identify the areas of your thinking that need “renovation!”
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! Great to see you – as always!

      Reply
  9. Hi Angela,

    If I’m having a bad day I know it’s my thoughts…which usually means I’ve skipped meditation, journaling etc. It’s so liberating when we’re ready to make the switch. I had no idea this was possible until my late 20’s.
    Tess The Bold Life recently posted…Courage Is A Beautiful ThingMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Tess,
      I’m sorry to hear you’re having a bad day. I know, with me, it’s usually my thoughts too. I try to override them with affirmations and gratitude and usually I feel better soon afterward.

      I want to thank you again for sending me the “miraculous” Scrabble pieces! I’m moving today!

      Reply
  10. Angela,

    This is a wonderful post! Self-defeating thoughts are the main source of peoples’ pain, lack of ambition, disappointments in life, and overall inability to pursue their dreams. I admire people who have applied the principles of positive thinking to the extent of habitual change. I love how you mentioned the neural connections and brain chemistry changes that come with taking control of our cognition through attention and intention. It can be a tough task to change the many years of counterproductive brain development, though with intention change can be made. I have certainly learned to be more mindful through meditation, and I appreciate the tips provided. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Joe,
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.
      It’s amazing how our brain chemistry and the physicality of the brain change when we change our thinking.
      What we used to refer to as “mind over matter” is now a proven fact!
      Thanks again for visiting and commenting Joe.

      Reply
  11. Hi Angela,

    This is a great article on dealing with negativity. I used to be negative in the past so I know how easy it is to be negative. If I didn’t pay careful attention to my inner dialogue, it would be easy for negativity to get the better of me. Thankfully, our brains can indeed be re-wired as you point out.

    Your 5 tips on getting The Mental Diet underway are all practical and useful. But the points that resonate most strongly with me are:

    2. Replace negative thoughts with a new positive one

    Our thoughts are the way we choose to perceive events. Since perceptions can change, we can also change our thoughts. IF we work hard to replace our negative thoughts with positive ones, soon we will find that our thinking becomes more positive with time. This also helps us to be aware of our thoughts which is crucial to rooting out negativity.

    4. Create positive affirmations to override these patterns

    Positive affirmations are a great way to deal with negativty. Even if you don’t believe them at first, by repeating them constantly, you create new neural pathways that help you to become more positive with time. This is a simple yet effective way of rewiring your brain to think in a more positive manner.

    5. If you spend time with negative thinkers don’t try to change them

    Many of us will have some negative thinkers in our lives. In fact not everyone will say the things we want to hear. I believe it is important to listen to opinions and advice just in case we might miss something important. But at the end of the day, we have to draw our own conclusions and decide what to do for ourselves. If the advice has merits then we should follow it. If not we should discard it. By viewing advice objectively in terms of usefulness, it helps to keep negativity at bay.

    Thank you for sharing this great post!
    The Vizier recently posted…The Benefits of a Change in RoutineMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Irving,
      Thanks so much for adding to much to each of the points I made in the article!
      I’m glad you found it useful and thank you for such a lovely compliment.

      Reply
  12. I’m usually a really positive person but sometimes s*^t happens and then we need to have a counter strategy close at hand. It’s amazing how quickly negativity can seep right through us and drain every drop of our confidence if we don’t knock it on the head pronto. Thanks for this reminder Angela
    Rosemary Hannan recently posted…5 Steps to Recovery From an O-D of Shiny Happy PeepsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Rosemary,
      Yeah, negativity can seep through us soo quickly – it takes a strangle hold and then we find ourselves paralyzed. The best thing as you say is to “knock it on the head pronto.”
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting Rosemary.

      Reply
  13. I love you have continued this for 21 days. letting go of negativitey has come up for me this week in several ways, so I think I will look at starting my taking the 7 day diet.I think looking for patterns and keeping a notebook will be very empowering.
    You can heal your life , was one of the first Self Help books I read and have a second copy on ,y shelf now- the first one fell apart.

    Namaste
    Suzie
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Monday Inspiration- Have CourageMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Suzie,
      Yes, it became the 30 day mental diet!
      I’m glad this article is in time to help you with the negativity you’re facing.
      I love that book by Louise Hay – it’s a timeless classic!

      Reply
  14. Hi Angela,
    I guess I should quit being surprised how much we have in common. I so dug Emmett Fox when I discovered him (what, a few decades ago?) that I got most of his books and followed his ideas almost religiously. So helpful, and kind of a unique idea back then. Thanks for reviving this oldie but goodie — I can use it some days!

    Reply
    • HI Pattie,
      We do have so much in common. Yes, I discovered him in the late 80s. I used to attend a Science of Mind church and had been studying to be a practitioner. There are so many books out there with the title of “Mental Diet” but his is the original!

      Reply
  15. Affirmations work the best. It erases our weakness of thought and builds a bridge of power and successful seduction, as we seduce our minds into a sultry appraisal of great thoughts in order to become an even greater person.
    jonathanfigaro recently posted…John Sherry Guest Post I’m ExcitedMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Jonathan,
      Yes, I agree that affirmations work the best!
      I love how you’ve put that!

      Reply
  16. This comes at a perfect time. As you know, like you, I practice eliminating negativity. But there are weeks in which so much negative stuff seems to happen to you that it is difficult not to fallinto the trap. I will remember the importance of not succumbing and turn the negatives around. Thanks, Angela.

    Reply
    • Hi Rosemarie,
      I’m glad to hear that. It’s not easy, but I find affirmations help during those times when things seem very bleak.

      Reply
    • I know! Technology is the biggest “problem” I face in blogging. Learning how to do so many different things – then when they don’t behave I go crazy!

      Reply
  17. I believe I’m a bit like you were Angela. I am pretty optimistic most of the time on the outside, but occasionally that negative “inner dialog” starts to creep in.

    I love the idea of turning a negative into a positive….
    Carolee Sperry recently posted…Really- I’m not ignoring you!My Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Carolee,
      I’m glad to know we have a lot in common Carolee! But, yes – I too have those negative inner voices from time to time.
      I agree turning a negative into a positive is the best!

      Reply
  18. Hi Angela,
    As always I love what you present here:)
    I believe in unconditional love..when I realized that I am creator of my moments, I stopped the negative talk..I guide others to do the same..
    To share unconditional with others, I need to give it to myself..I am the only one with *me* 24/7 so what I think and say to myself about myself matters completely. I choose to guide myself through life with the same support, acceptance, forgiveness, encouragement..as I do others..in the same positive manner. in treating myself lovingly I also draw loving to me..and share loving from that abundance..a beauty filled cycle..
    And if I’m in the presence of a pessimist I just acknowledge that they matter in a specific way custom to them.. I think a pessimist is a person who has yet to receive unconditional love, and the best ‘cure’ I know is to just pour it on:)
    Joy recently posted…The Gift…My Profile

    Reply
  19. Powerful advice, Angela. There are things we really cannot afford to pay attention to… at the top of that list are negative thoughts or things we do NOT want happening to us. Bringing our consciousness to one-pointed thinking allows us to create our life however we choose … it is insanity to choose the negative end of the stick.
    rob white recently posted…Mastermind Alliance Webinar Tonight 8PM ESTMy Profile

    Reply
  20. Hi Angela,

    Good post (as always!) – I learned the “as you think so shall you be” mantra from Dr. Wayne Dyer early on in my metaphysical learning and it’s stuck with me ever since. When I find I am getting very snarky and negative inside my head, I remember that I would never talk to someone I loved dearly that way – why would I do it to myself?

    But yeah, it’s so ingrained, isn’t it? But turning it around can make a world of difference.

    Thanks for some positive vibes to start my day!
    Lisa recently posted…Practically Intuitive – Fall SurveyMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa,
      It’s so good to “see” you here!
      Wow, what a great way to think about our negative thought patterns: “I remember that would never talk to someone I loved dearly that way – why would I do it to myself?” Lisa, I think this is absolute genius~!
      Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us here today!

      Reply

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