Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to complain less or to stop worrying so much?

Most of us realize that we have unhelpful thought patterns, but we’re never taught HOW to change them.

The average person has somewhere between 30,000-60,000 thoughts per day.  The vast majority of those thoughts occur automatically, which allows the brain to expend less energy.

If you tried to control every single thought that ever came into your brain (which would be impossible), you would be exhausted.

So how do you change your thoughts if most of your thoughts are automatic?

The answer is to talk back to your brain more than you listen to it.

Your brain will offer you all kinds of nonsense (based on prior experiences, your upbringing, ideas you’ve absorbed from your culture or the people around you, etc.), but you don’t need to believe everything you think.

Here are some examples of talking back to your brain.


  • Default thought: This is so hard.
  • Intentional thought: …and that’s okay. I can do hard things.


  • Default thought: What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get it together?
  • Intentional thought: There’s nothing wrong with me. I just have some unhelpful thought patterns (like all other humans) that I can take a look at later (with curiosity and compassion, not self-judgment).


  • Default thought: What if this is a complete disaster?
  • Intentional thought: No matter what happens, I won’t beat myself up about it. I’m proud of myself for trying something new.

It’s important not to resist your default thoughts or shame yourself for them.  When you try to push away unhelpful thoughts (or escape them with unhealthy habits like overdrinking or overeating), they get stronger.

Eckhart Tolle says, “whatever we fight, we strengthen, and what we resist, persists”.

Instead of trying to replace thoughts that aren’t useful, expect that your brain will offer you those kinds of thoughts…AND you don’t need to believe them.

Talk back to your brain more than you listen to it.