Kelley Vargo by Kelley Vargo

There are thousands of articles, companies, products and individuals out there offering advice on how to lose weight, gain strength, get that beach body, cook healthier and so on. These are all sources of information, which can improve knowledge, but knowledge doesn’t always translate into action. 

The reality is, most of us know what we need to do when we are working toward a goal. You don’t need someone to tell you to exercise more, eat vegetables instead of sweets, get eight hours of sleep, or be kind to our neighbors. The bridge between knowing and doing lies within you mind and in your thoughts. When you beat yourself up for eating a cookie, hitting the snooze button, having a second glass of wine or going without exercise, you perpetuate the problem. Labeling your actions as good or bad and judging yourself can send you down a rabbit hole of negativity. 

Instead, try taking a few minutes to reflect on an issue you have been struggling with lately. Consider how much time you’ve spent dwelling over something that has happened in the past. While you can’t change what happened, you can surely change what is happening in the present moment. Or perhaps you are worrying about the future—precious time that could be better spent doing something positive and productive. 

A great way to combat self-destructive thoughts is to employ the 1-2-3-4 model in Chapter 7 of the ACE Coaching Behavior Change Manual. Here is a brief outline for how you can implement the 1-2-3-4 model and work to change your self-destructive thoughts the next time you catch yourself in negative mode. 

1. Event: This is a situation or something that occurs.

2. Thoughts: You experience certain thoughts based on the event that happened.

3. Feelings: Those thoughts (from number 2) elicit certain feelings. Notice, as mentioned above, thoughts are what connects the event to the feelings.

4. Reaction: This is the action or reaction to the event based on numbers two and three. 

Once your thoughts change, your feelings and reaction will follow. The first step to ending negative thoughts is to become aware of them. After an event occurs, catch yourself in your thoughts. Ask yourself “Are they true?” Be 100 percent honest with yourself, and call yourself out, if necessary. Most of the time, what we tell ourselves or how we speak to ourselves is not true. At the very least, we probably wouldn’t speak to someone else in this way.

After spending time getting to the root of the thought and challenging it, begin to change it. Begin to generate thoughts that are positive, self-loving and true. If it helps, write them down. This can be a difficult exercise at first. It is easier to stay in our comfort zone rather than challenging what we have told ourselves. It can be scary to reexamine long-held beliefs about ourselves, but it can also be one of the most freeing things you can do. Once you are able to get out of both your head and the rabbit hole of negativity you can start doing the things you want to do and loving yourself.