One Simple Way To Manage Your Thinking

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Do me a favour. I want you to close your eyes and tell yourself out loud “Don’t imagine a pink elephant.”

Great.  Now, I’ll bet one of two things just happened.

One, an image of a pink elephant popped into your mind.

Two, you saw the image of a pink elephant and you quickly made it disappear.

What do pink elephants have to do with your thoughts and improving your life? Stick with me here because I want to share something so profoundly important, that it can change your life.

While your subconscious mind will always do what you want – without question – it can’t process the word DON’T. In fact, it ignores the word DON’T. All of the time.

When you say to yourself, “Don’t imagine a pink elephant,” your subconscious mind will delete the word ‘DON’T”, and hear your request  as “Imagine a pink elephant.” The result is that you’ll always see the image of a pink elephant first.

The word DON’T will cause you to do and feel what you don’t want.

If you say to yourself “I don’t want to be nervous during my presentation,” your mind translates that as “want to be nervous during my presentation.”  That image of being nervous is the first thing your subconscious mind sees. Guess what happens next? You end up being nervous during your presentation. The EXACT OPPOSITE of what you really want.

 When you say, “I DON’T want to be afraid to start my own business,” your inner mind hears “Want to be afraid to start my business.”

When you say, “I DON’T want to worry today,” your subconscious mind hears “Want to worry today.”  Then you’ll keep on worrying.

When a dieter says, “I DON’T want to eat chocolate,” their subconscious mind hears “Want to eat chocolate.” What will that dieter think about all day? Chocolate.

When you say, “I DON’T want to be anxious about money,” your inner mind hears “Want to be anxious about money,”   causing you to continue to feel anxious about money.

When a golfer says “I DON’T want to hit it into the hazard,” his subconscious mind hears“Want to hit it into the hazard.”  Guess where that ball ends up? Right into the hazard.

When mum says “DON’T forget to put those toys away, her child hears “Forget to put those toys away,” and those toys don’t get put away.

For the next few days notice when you say the word “DON’T. As soon as you do, then change your thought to the opposite. You might want to start your sentence with “What if…”   or   “I would like to…”

For example, if you say “I don’t want to worry today.”
Change it to: “I would like to feel calm today.”

“I don’t want to be anxious about money.”
“I want to feel relaxed about money.”

You get the idea.
JUST DON’T SAY “DON’T”.              

What’s one thought that you have often that will benefit from eliminating the word DON’T?

Want to know more about managing your internal monologue and increasing your mental toughness? Send me an email at to enquire about training and coaching..

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at or