Today - 2nd February - is officially Groundhog Day. Widely celebrated in the USA, this tradition sees a small rodent called a Groundhog ‘predict’ whether Spring will come early or late. However, most of us (of a certain age) will remember the 1993 film Groundhog Day, based around a grumpy, cynical weather man (played by Bill Murray) who is assigned to cover Groundhog Day in a small American town. To cut a long story short he’s forced to re-live the same day again and again until he learns how to be a better person.
Groundhog Day has since become an expression we use when we’re feeling stuck or bored in life. When every day feels the same, like we’re just going through the motions. Eat, sleep, work repeat… Now not everyone can or wants to lead a life full of constant surprise and excitement, however you can make a difference to how you feel, and ultimately the results you get simply by changing your thoughts.
As the saying goes “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
Scientists estimate that on average we have around 60,000 thoughts per day. The most shocking fact is that 95% of those thoughts are the same ones from the previous day… and the day before that! Effectively we’re stuck in looping thoughts.
Looping thoughts are defined as “the experience of becoming trapped within a chain of thoughts habits and emotions which repeats itself over and over again” - leaving us living in our very own version of Groundhog Day! The majority of these looping thoughts are negative which can lead to excessive worrying, anxiety and stress.
So, how can you escape your Groundhog Day? Here’s 3 simple steps you can take right now to make a difference.
The key to changing anything in our own minds, and ultimately in our life, is to become aware of what we’re doing. Next time you experience negative looping thoughts, notice what you’re saying to yourself and how you’re saying it. We are often our worst critic. Get in touch with how you’re feeling. Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal is useful and therapeutic in itself. Over time you’ll become aware of your thought patterns and how they make you feel. You can also see how many of your worries actually came to pass. Just bringing them into your conscious awareness can be enough to give you a more realistic perspective.
Break the pattern
When you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of looping negative thoughts, these quick and easy techniques can be enough to snap your mind out of the pattern. Try saying “STOP” in your head or out loud. Or if you’re a more visual person, picture a red STOP sign in your mind. If you find yourself really overwhelmed, it’s important to ground yourself. So a good exercise that engages all your senses is to name 3 things you can see, touch, hear and smell. With continued practice you’ll find this becomes easy and effortless.
Change the thoughts
Once your patterns are out in the open you can easily spot the unhelpful negative suggestions you’ve been giving yourself. Your mind and body respond to the pictures you make in your head and words you say to yourself. So just by saying more positive, encouraging words to yourself, and visualizing more positive things happening to you, you will change your state and create more positive experiences. Highly successful people do this all the time to improve their performance.
So, if you want to make your life less like Groundhog Day start with these 3 things.