CAHELP eNews - February 27, 2018

hands holding up letters that spell thinkpositive

You Are What You Think

Most of us have heard the phrase, "you are what you eat." This is even the title of a bestselling book and has changed the way people think about health and nutrition. And while that is certainly true, the same can be said about your thoughts. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "You are what you think all day long." Your mind is a powerful thing that most of us take for granted. The actions you take are inspired and influenced by your thoughts, both positive and negative. Most of us believe we are not in control of our thoughts, and yet we are. You are in control of your thoughts and you become what you think about. With that knowledge, we need to be careful regarding what thoughts we allow to occupy our brain and channel our focus on the positive.

Continuing to focus on a positive mindset, however, can be difficult during challenging times and may be hard to sustain. Learning to recognize negative thoughts that impact your daily life is the first step to a positive mindset. After that recognition, there are four steps to moving those thoughts in a more positive direction.

  1. Dismiss

    In this first step, being aware is the key to realizing that you are having a negative thought. Finding a way in altering this state of mind by learning to Dismiss those unwanted thoughts can be a difficult task. This is often harder to do than realized because negative thoughts only have power and control when there is time spent thinking about them. In order to dismiss negative thoughts, you need to let go of the thought and dismiss it altogether. These negative thoughts are often not the reality of what is happening and are only increasing your anxiety. Consider that it is only a thought, but do not hold any value to it and dismiss it altogether.

  2. Distract

    Knowing that we do not have to think about every thought that enters our mind leads us to our second step. When these thoughts come about, you must give yourself permission to Dismiss and Distract  the negative thoughts. When your mind wanders to something unproductive, you can distract your thoughts by thinking of something else. One strategy is to try focusing on the moment that you are in. Be mindful of what you are experiencing by using all your senses. If you find that distracting yourself is challenging, then you may need to change the activity that you are doing to alter your thoughts.

  3. Reject

    Use this step when dismissing and distracting are not working and Reject the thought completely. This may require an enormous amount of positive self-talk to analyze and determine that your thoughts are unproductive and only increasing your anxiety and self-doubt. Take a step-by-step approach in breaking down the thought to find out where it is stemming from. Ask yourself, is the thought coming from a place of fear or anxiety? Try changing the story that is filling your mind to have a positive outcome similar to a different movie script ending. When you confront your fears and anxieties, you often realize the worst-case scenario is not as bad as you originally thought.

  4. Replace

    During the final step of shifting your mindset, you must Replace your thoughts with a new image. Replacing negative thoughts means trying to focus on the little accomplishments or ideas that bring joy throughout the day. It does not mean being unrealistic about what is taking place, but choosing to focus on the positivity around you. The external events that take place around you do not cause the irritation, anxiety, or frustration. It is the thoughts and beliefs that you have about the event that creates the feelings of stress or a new opportunity to grow and learn.

Replacing negative thoughts to more positive thoughts is not going to happen overnight. You must be consistently aware and choose to fill your mind with positive images. When you change negative thoughts to affirming, positive thoughts, they will become a part of your beliefs and your thought system. By following the four steps to shift your thinking, you will experience an improvement in the quality of your life. Remember, you are what you think.


Emerson, R. W., & Washington, P. (2004). Emerson: poems. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Peterson, D. (n.d.). How to Use Your Thoughts to Determine Your Future. Retrieved February 27, 2018, from

Watson, A. (2011). AWAKENED: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching. United States: Due Season Press and Educational Services.

Mindset (url: