According to Carmichael, thought replacement is an effective technique to center yourself during moments of unease. For example: Let's say you're feeling stressed about your job. In order to pause rumination on everything that could go wrong, she suggests replacing those negative thoughts with a 100% accurate statement moving forward. In this case, the thought replacement might be: "Regardless of my job status, I know I can take care of myself and I can count on me," Carmichael says. "Repeat that a few times."
Ready for another? Let's say you're feeling very nervous for a presentation. Carmichael suggests replacing your thoughts with the following: “I have prepared very well, like I always do, and I can handle any minor hiccups.” Essentially, you're telling yourself what's logical and true, rather than focusing on affirmations that may be more aspirational—which have the potential to make you feel even more uneasy.
To really address your nervous thoughts, you first have to understand what they're about, Carmichael explains. “Affirmations can sometimes be aspirational. A person might say something like, I feel strong and secure in my job, when in fact, maybe they don’t...Just repeating that over and over isn’t helping you to get strong and secure at your job, and it can feel escapist." Whereas thought replacements, she notes, are "100% true and accurate in this moment.”
That's why when it comes to creating your own thought replacements, it's important to make sure they're undeniably accurate, so your brain cannot refute them whenever nervous energy starts to arise. "Before you settle on a thought replacement, have a deliberate hole-poking session where you try to say, Is there any scenario where this wouldn't be true? or How can I really refine this? so it feels like an airtight thought replacement," she adds. "And then you use that airtight thought replacement when you start getting certain negative, maladaptive thoughts."