The power of thought loops
Your thought loops have a great deal of power. When you’re able to maintain positive loops, you’re capable of finding success and fulfillment.
I want to start this article with a thought experiment. In the end you will see just how powerful thought loops can be. Be it negative or positive. Of course, the latter is what you want.
Imagine a man named James who has never been to a live concert in his life. He loves music and has a favorite band, but he has never engaged in the live music experience.
Finally, he decides to buy tickets to a gig.
To make things even better, his favorite band is playing at the concert.
Filled with anticipation, James arrives at the venue early, long before most people arrive. When the doors open, he’s able to get to the front of the venue quickly. He looks around and notices that the venue is starting to get very crowded. Having never been to a concert before, he didn’t realize just how many people would turn up. Thankfully, all thoughts of the crowded venue slip to the back of his mind when the band takes the stage.
For the next hour, the band plays song after song.
James finds himself completely lost in the music. He closes his eyes, sings along, and allows the music to lead him into an altered state where he feels nothing but pure bliss. It is as though his mind is on a loop of constant positivity created by the music he enjoys so much.
But after an hour, everything changes…
The Panic Starts to Set In
About an hour into the concert, the band stops playing to take a short break and starts talking to the crowd. James leaves the altered state the music placed him in and tries to listen to what the band has to say.
But he can’t.
As the singer talks, James finds himself looking around the venue again. He sees the true scale of the crowd that surrounds him and he starts to feel trapped. Everywhere he looks, there is a sea of people that seem to be closing in on him.
As the music starts up again, James tries to lose himself in the moment as he did before.
Unfortunately, his mind is no longer focused on the music.
Instead, it’s focused on the people who are surrounding him and confining him into his tiny space at the front of the venue. The more he focuses on the people, the more his mind starts to race. He starts to think about all of the people who are dancing, jumping, and pushing in the crowd. And as his mind hones in on this loop of thoughts, someone bumps into him.
Panic sets in.
James starts breathing faster and shallower. This causes his lungs to fail to expend all of the carbon dioxide they contain, resulting in his body not getting enough oxygen. His body starts sending messages to his respiratory system, telling him to breathe faster. And before he knows it, he’s hyperventilating while in a completely panicked state.
What we see here are two examples of the power of thought loops.
During the first hour of the concert, James was wrapped inside a positive loop that gave him great feelings of joy. But as soon as his mind started focusing on the people around him, James got trapped in a negative loop that caused him to panic.
Perhaps this scenario hits close to home for you.
Maybe you’ve found yourself feeling panicked in situations that do not call for a panicked response.
So, what causes this panicked response to occur and what can you do about it?
How Do Negative Thought Loops Form?
When you start on a thought loop that carries great emotional intensity, your system tends to continue on that loop. Left unchecked, the loop carries on like a runaway freight train.
Your thoughts may then trigger a physiological reaction, as we saw with James and his rapid breathing. That physiological reaction then feeds into the loop, intensifying the negative thoughts that can lead to an even more severe physiological reaction.
This is often a conditioned response.
For example, those who had traumatic childhoods may find that they enter this type of panicked state more readily. They may also find themselves prone to getting stuck on depressive or stressful thought loops. This occurs whenever they come across something they perceive as a threat.
Again, we see this with James. His panic attack is triggered by his recognition that he is surrounded by thousands of people.
Negative thought loops form when your mind hones in on the threat it identifies. You then start a downward spiral that is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. This spiral occurs because your system fuels the path it is on once it has set that path.
Thankfully, there is something that you can do to break out of the loop.
The Solution – Conscious Course Correction
It takes conscious thought to change the path that your system is set on following.
To create this conscious course correction, you must condition your mind to focus predominantly on the positives. Give your mind the chance to pay attention to what’s going well, allowing you to shift your focus to what you’re enjoying. In doing this, you encourage your system to set itself on an alternative path, which leads away from the negative loop it was previously stuck in.
But this is not always easy to achieve.
And for some, it requires a great deal of focus to course correct.
Here’s what you can do:
Start from where you’re at. Write down some of the positive aspects of your life that you can switch your focus to whenever you find yourself in a negative thought loop. Highlight happy memories and recognize the good qualities that you have. Whenever negativity arises in your mind, read your list and consciously think about the more positive paths you’d like your system to focus on.
Doing this repeatedly will condition your mind to automatically enter into positive thought loops even when you’re in difficult situations.
That’s how you’re able to alter panicked, anxious, and depressive states through conscious appreciation and affirmation of the positive aspects of your life and situation.
Perhaps this is something you would like help with.
If so, schedule a Clarity Session with me today. We’ll work together to help you leverage the power of positive thought loops.