533: How to Overcome Disempowering Thoughts

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Hal Elrod

When negative thoughts creep into our minds, we have a choice to make. We can let things spiral into darkness or focus on thoughts that empower and energize us to overcome them. There is a way to deal with disempowering thoughts, and that’s what this episode is all about.

Today, I will introduce you to four powerful questions inspired by Byron Katie’s renowned method, The Work. These aren’t just prompts; they’re tools designed to challenge and change your thinking and the way you react to crippling thoughts and stressors in your life. 

We’ll go through each one, dissecting how they can help you uncover and understand the core reasons behind your stress and negativity. You’ll learn to transform those feelings into something manageable with regular practice. Most importantly, you’ll be able to shift from feeling overwhelmed to feeling empowered and controlling, no matter the challenge you face.



  • Why starting from a place of positivity boosts creativity and resourcefulness
  • Your thoughts directly influence your mood
  • Aim for progress over perfection, even when it feels like you’re backsliding
  • Embrace challenges as opportunities to grow and learn
  • Every small step forward leads to something greater down the road



“Focus on what you’re grateful for, focus on being at peace with what you can’t change, and take action every day to create the life that you want.”



Organifi makes the highest quality nutritional products, which are made from whole food ingredients (not synthetic vitamins) that I enjoy nearly every day, and have for many years. Visit Organifi.com/Hal, and use the code HAL at checkout to get 20% off of your entire order. I hope you find something there that you love! :^)


Rise by CURED Nutrition is a natural supplement made from CBD, Lions Mane and Ginseng (among others) that helps boost energy, performance and cognitive function. There’s no caffeine, no jitters and most importantly, no crash. Visit CuredNutrition.com/Hal and receive 20% off of your entire order. They have tons of other products as well, hopefully you’ll find something that works for you. :^)





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Copyright © 2024 Miracle Morning, LP and International Literary Properties LLC



Hal Elrod: Hello, friends, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and today, we are talking about how to overcome your disempowering thoughts, the thoughts that hold you back that stand in the way of you both enjoying the life that you have and creating the life that you want. How do we overcome these disempowering thoughts and replace them with empowering thoughts that energize us, that inspire us, that motivate us to take the actions that we need to take to achieve our goals and create the outcomes that we want in our lives? That’s what we are diving into today.


But before we do, I want to take just a minute or two to thank our sponsors. Most of us could use more energy in our day, but caffeine can only do so much. At some point, we need to look at the root causes of our fatigue. Now, it turns out that there’s two main factors in low energy, which are chronic stress and a lack of nutrition. Organifi creates delicious superfood blends that address both of these problems. They use adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms to help balance cortisol levels that are associated with stress, and they make it easier to add more nutrients into your day. You simply mix a scoop into water or the plant-based milk of your choice, or even a cup of juice, and enjoy a natural boost any time of day. To check out Organifi’s product line of nutrition, energy-boosting supplements, head over to Organifi.com/Hal, that is spelled O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I, Organifi.com/Hal, and then use the discount code HAL, my name H-A-L, for 20% off your order as a listener of this podcast.


And then, second, tied with Organifi, is my other nutritional supplement company that I’m a huge fan of CURED Nutrition. And CURED Nutrition’s products have been designed with the intention to support all aspects of the daily human experience. Whether you’re looking for clean natural energy, a relief for your everyday discomforts, or a reset button with a deep night sleep, CURED has the answer for you. And I take their Rise nootropic in the morning, which helps with cognitive function, focus, alertness, etc. I take that in the morning first thing when I wake up. And then at night before bed, every night, I take CURED Nutrition’s Night Caps or Nighttime Oil. Same product, a combination of CBD and CBN oil. The difference is Nighttime Oil is a dropper that goes under your tongue, acts a little faster, or Night Caps are capsules that you take a couple of hours before or an hour before bed and they kick in and again, same effect, same result, just depending on what you prefer, a capsule form or a dropper form. And again, whether you want to wake up with focus using their Rise supplement or go to bed resting easily and effectively all night long with their Nighttime Oil or Night Caps, head over to CuredNutrition.com/Hal, that is C-U-R-E-D, CuredNutrition.com/Hal, and use the discount code HAL, H-A-L, for 20% off your order as a listener of the Achieve Your Goals podcast.


All right, goal achievers, without further ado, let’s talk about How to Overcome Disempowering Thoughts One Day at a time.




Hal Elrod: Hello, friends, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod. And I was supposed to have Gordy Bal on the podcast today. We were scheduled to record and we had a lightning storm last night. Our Wi-Fi went out, and it did not come back. And so, I’m Wi-Fi-less right now and unable to record a podcast, or at least unable to connect with another human being over the interwebs to record a podcast. So, here we go.


Gordy, by the way, he’s the author of the book The New Millionaire’s Playbook: 7 Keys to Unlock Freedom, Purpose and Abundance. And I’m going to have him on. We rescheduled for next week. So, you’ll probably hear me next week, if not, the week after. And I’ll tell you, when I first heard about his book, a friend of mine recommended it, my friend Akira, and he knows Gordy personally, and he really recommends Gordy as a human, and the title threw me off, The New Millionaire’s Playbook. I just didn’t love the title. And Gordy, if you’re listening, I apologize for not loving the title.


He sent me a copy of the book, or maybe I ordered it, I don’t remember, and it sat on my shelf for a while. And then, a few weeks ago, I started reading it, and I was just blown away by Gordy and the way that he thinks and the way that he approaches life and the way that he boldly calls out what’s going on in the world. I mean, this book hits on every topic you could imagine. I mean, he kind of goes both very deep, but also very broad, talks about mindset, the mindset that you need to make an impact in the world and build wealth and be successful and happy and all of those things. But he also talks about everything from optimized physical, spiritual being, do building resilience, resources, relationships where he talked about survival, self-defense, finances, precious metals, Bitcoin, even food, water, and permaculture, I mean, he really covered just the gamut of topics that are relevant today for all of us.


And so, anyway, I won’t go into much more depth on that because we are going to have him on the show, but I’m really excited because his mission is to start a consciousness revolution. And he’s already started it. And my mission is to elevate human consciousness. And so, we have a lot of synergy. And I’m excited to go deep with him for your benefit and my benefit, but for all of us.


Today, I’m going to freestyle because we, again, had Gordy planned for the podcast. And now, I’m going to share with you some of the things that I’ve been exploring in my own life right now and challenges I faced and I’m facing and things I’ve done to overcome them. And what came up for me recently, I’m reading a book right now. I’m rereading a book at night. I have my nightstand full of a dozen or so consciousness elevating, mood lifting, relaxing, inspiring, empowering books that I’ve already read. That way I don’t have to put a lot of mental energy into learning new things. I’m just remembering things I’ve already read, and I always underline my books. You may know that. I underline, I circle, I highlighter right in the margins. So, when I go and I reread these dozen or so books in my nightstand at night, I’m only reading the underlines and the highlights.


And so, again, I’m not having to strain my brain muscle to learn a lot of new information. I’m just remembering, “Oh, that’s right. Oh, yeah.” And these are books that I’ve read them and I’ve prequalified them as these are books that make me feel really good. They make me feel at peace. They make me feel inspired. So, if you don’t already do that, that’s a little tip for you to take any books that you’ve read that elevate your consciousness, that make you feel good, that improve your mood, that relax your mind, that empower you, that inspire you, and keep those in your bedside. And then just pick up whichever one resonates with you.


I was just reading Living Untethered for the last few weeks. I was rereading it, got through that in, I don’t know, probably two weeks of rereading, and I only reread for, like, 10 minutes before bed, depending on the night. And then, now, I moved on to Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is, which is also one of my favorite books. And interestingly enough, when I opened up, so last night, I read Loving What Is for, I think, my third night in a row. And then this morning, when I opened up Gordy’s book, The New Millionaire’s Playbook, literally, the next page, the first of all, I think it was the second page that I read, he talks about the best thing you can do is keep asking questions.


Byron Katie, author of several bestselling books, including A Mind at Home with Itself, said to question what you believe is an amazing gift to give yourself. I’ll say it again, to question what you believe is an amazing gift to give yourself and you can have it all the days of your life. The answers are always inside you, just waiting to be heard. And Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is, I believe that was her introduction to the world. I could be wrong, but I don’t know if it was her first book, but it was the book that made her famous. And she taught something that she calls the process of inquiry. And she also calls it the work. She kind of uses those terms interchangeably.


And the work includes four questions to ask at any time a thought pops into your head, particularly a stressful thought. And so, these four questions are, number one, is it true? So, let’s say you think to yourself, “My life sucks. Life is difficult. Life is–” something along those lines, right? “My life is terrible right now.” The first question you ask is, is it true? This is inquiry, this is the work. It’s examining your thoughts as opposed to letting your thoughts unconsciously rule your life. And by the way, I want to make it clear, this is such an important topic for me right now because I realized, I’ve actually been unconsciously allowing my thoughts to run my life, even though I know better, even though I teach this stuff, right? It’s one thing to teach it and it’s another to get off track. And I’ve gotten off track over the last few, I don’t know, years, I guess.


And so, it’s always a work in progress, right? And I want to share that with you. I want to be vulnerable, and I try to always be vulnerable with you because, even though you know better, even though we know better, we’re going to get off track. Life, it’s constant evolution, it’s constant self-reflection and self-awareness. It’s not that you learn it and then you perfected and you never look back. It’s that you learn it, you try it out, you mess up, you make a mistake, you take a step forward or a few steps forward, but you take a step or two back, right? And like, that’s life. It’s the dance. You’re always dancing with your own personal development and evolution. So, anyway, so I’ve realized that I have not been, even though I read Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is years ago and I practice it for a long time, I fell off track and I forgot about it.


So, anyway, the first question that you ask to examine your thoughts, especially when a stressful thought, especially perpetually stressful thinking, enters your mind, right? So, if you think, my life sucks, my life is terrible. Number one, is it true? Yeah, it’s true. Struggling financially. My marriage isn’t where I want it to be. I’ve got my health issues or I’ve got cancer or whatever. So, you can immediately find reasons to say, yes, my life is terrible, and answer, is it true?


So, the second question is, can you absolutely know that it’s true? And that’s just kind of a gut check because you go, well, I mean, I guess my life is not totally terrible. I mean, I do have these things going for me. And I have a roof over my head and I’ve got food to eat. I mean, I’ve got people that love me. I mean, I’ve got money in the bank. So, well, I guess I can’t absolutely know that it’s true that my life is terrible because there is evidence that my life is actually not so bad. And in some ways, I’m really blessed.


The third question that you apply to the thought that’s causing you stress or fear or anxiety or any form of inner turmoil, number three is how do you react? What happens when you believe that thought? You go, well, when I believe the thought that my life is terrible, it’s depressing. I feel depressed, I feel hopeless. If I believe my life’s terrible, if I believe that thought, I feel terrible, right? So, that’s the third question.


And I encourage you, pick something in your life right now, and actually, we’ll do that in a second. Let me get through all four questions. So, number three is how do you react? What happens when you believe that thought, when you believe the stressful thought that you’re telling yourself? It’s not necessarily the truth. It’s just a thought. It’s just a perspective. So, when you believe the thought, how do you feel? How do you react?


And then number four, who would you be without that thought? And for me, when I do the work, when I practice inquiry, as taught by Byron Katie, as taught in her book Loving What Is, whenever I do this and I’ve practiced this for years, but again, I forgot about it really for the last, I don’t know how long. It’s been a while since I’ve done the work. But when I ask myself that fourth question, who would you be without that thought? Almost always, my first answer is free. That’s almost always my first answer, free. And then I can get granular with what does free mean. I wouldn’t be so stressed. I wouldn’t be so depressed. I wouldn’t feel like my life is so terrible. I’d be free, I’d be free to be happy. I’d be free to be at peace.


So, I’m going to invite you to take something that you think in your life right now. Pick a thought, pick a stressful thought in your life. It could be a general thought. Again, like my life is terrible. I’m not where I thought I would be right now. It could be my marriage is in shambles. Pick a stressful thought that you regularly think in your life right now. And you might have a lot to choose from or you might have to search and go, oh, I’m not thinking a lot of stressful thoughts. And I’m kind of at peace right now. So, think a stressful thought that crosses your mind or that you think perpetually, and then ask yourself, is it true? And keep in mind that thoughts are rarely inherently true, meaning it’s almost always a perspective or an opinion. But it could be a true thought, like the thought of no, I’m 200 grand in debt right now. That’s my thought. Is it true? Yep. I’m $200,000 in debt right now. Okay, great. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Well, in that case, it would be, yeah, right. Your thought is around a factual thing.


But often thoughts are just perspectives or opinions. But again, we’re picking a true thought. Okay, yes, I am $200,000 in debt right now. How do you react? What happens when you believe that thought? You go, well, I feel stressed, I feel overwhelmed. It’s constantly on my mind, and I can’t sleep at night. I mean, that thought has taken control of my life. So, how do you react? What happens when you believe that thought?


And then who would you be without that thought? That’s an interesting one when you’re dealing with a fact, like I’m $200,000 in debt. So, without that thought, it almost feels like scary, right? Like, well, I don’t know why. I need to think that, right? But you know you’re $200,000 in debt and you’re doing everything in your power, I would imagine, hopefully. You’re proactively taking– and by the way, what’s interesting is, without that thought, you’d be free. You’d be free from the burden, the stress, and the fear and the overwhelming, the anxiety, and the depression that that thought causes. And what’s interesting is you’d still be 200 grand in debt, but you’d be free to do something about it without feeling overwhelmed, anxious, scared, and depressed. So, I didn’t even plan on what I was going to use as an example, but I’m glad I chose a fact, like I’m $200,000 in debt,


Because another example of a thought is like, I’m fat or I’m unhealthy or my life sucks or my marriage, but these are perspectives. So, you could easily go, well, they’re not really true, they’re not inherently true. But in my opinion, I think that my life isn’t great, right? But when you pick a fact, $200,000 in debt, or I just got divorced. Or if you pick a fact, then when you do the work on the fact, what you realize is that without that thought, the circumstance would still be the same, right? So, you’re talking about a factual circumstance that you think about regularly. So, 200 grand in debt is still a fact, it still exists. But without that thought, that constant thought, that incessant obsession, thinking of the thing that causes you to feel these unproductive feelings, these feelings that put you in a painful state, I was recently reading another book. And to be fair, I sometimes bounce around from book to book, depending on what I need. I don’t always read from start to finish. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.


But I was rereading, and I mentioned this a few weeks ago or a month ago, rereading Ben Hardy’s book, The Gap and the Gain. And in that book, he talked about how positive– I forgot, I think he was quoting someone else, but a positive emotional state is the starting place for all creativity and progress. So, I’m going to say that again, a positive emotional state is the starting place for all creativity and resourcefulness, I miss that one, and progress. So, I was reminded of how important it is. And I’ve said this many times, I say this, and right now, I’m writing the Miracle Morning for Seniors book. I’m almost done with it, and I’m coauthoring it with Dwayne Clark. And I talk in that book about how important mindset is, that it’s arguably the single most important thing that you need to focus on optimizing and cultivating during your Miracle Morning every single day, that putting yourself, optimizing your mindset, putting yourself in a peak mental and emotional state is what enables you to be proactive, creative, resourceful.


And so, going back to our example that we are doing the work on right now, and again, I told you, I was freestyling this episode. I didn’t intend to go this deep into the work by Byron Katie, but we are. And hopefully, this is helpful for you. I know it’s valuable for me, so I’d imagine it’s valuable for you too. But when you ask yourself, who would you be without that stressful thought? Whether it’s an opinion, a perspective, or a fact, you’d be free. You’d be free to not be so stressed and overwhelmed and to then generate a positive emotional state that is a starting place for creativity and resourcefulness and being proactive, taking that action. So, that’s the power of questioning your thoughts.


And in Gordy’s book, I’m so excited to talk to him about this next week, a big focus of what he talks about is being intentional about your thoughts. Most of us allow thoughts that are unconscious to continuously play on loop. We think the same thoughts over and over and over again, like the thoughts that you thought yesterday. Think about it. They’re often around the problems in our life, right? We’re constantly thinking thoughts that are stressful. In fact, a really easy frame, a binary that you can choose when it comes to your thoughts when you’re examining them is, are these thoughts, are my thoughts, or is this thought, you can do it one at a time, is this thought disempowering or empowering? That’s a really nice, simple binary that you can choose to determine if the thoughts you’re thinking are serving you. If they’re empowering, they’re serving you. If they’re positive, if they’re constructive, if they’re proactive, they’re empowering you to feel better so that you can do better. But if their stressful thoughts and painful thoughts and unproductive thoughts, they’re disempowering you. They’re making you feel worse, and then you do worse.


So, I want to ask you the question right now. Well, first question is, do you regularly examine your thoughts? Great way to do that is during your Miracle Morning, during your scribing practice. And in fact, that’s why affirmations are my favorite part of the savers because that’s where I get to, you get to, we get to design our thoughts. We get to craft our affirmations by choosing the thoughts that will empower us, the perspectives that will empower us to feel better so that we can do better.


My affirmations, which I have them right here. Hold on, I’ll grab them. My affirmations, they are titled My 2024 Level 10 Goals and Affirmations. And I wrote down my mission is to achieve level 10 success in each area of my life. And by the way, that’s a throwback because in 2008, that was my focus when I created Miracle Morning, was achieve level 10 success in each area of my life. And this year, I decided, I want to get back to the basics, like I want to go back to when– I got a beginner’s mindset and I think that I’ve gotten away from that, maybe you have too, where the more you learn, it can be easy to fall away from the beginner’s mindset and think, “Oh, yeah, I know that. I know about affirmations. I know about the Miracle Morning.”


It’s interesting. We actually, and I’m guilty of this, often, the things that I know about, especially if I know about them, like I know a lot about them or I teach them or I talk about them, sometimes I will trick myself into thinking that I’m doing them just because I know about them. Like, I’ve realized that I wasn’t reading my affirmations every day, like I got them printed out, I got them sitting there, but I wasn’t reading them. I don’t know. I just thought like, oh, I know those affirmations. And then I pull them out and start reading, like, oh my gosh. It’s like knowing about exercise but not actually exercising. It doesn’t actually make your body stronger or make you healthier or more fit.


And if you know about affirmations and you wrote affirmations, but you don’t read affirmations, similar to how not exercising doesn’t make your body fit, well, not reading your affirmations doesn’t provide you with the benefits to your mental and emotional well-being that you get from affirmations and the clarity and so on and so forth. So, I wrote down, I added in my affirmations, a reminder, Hal, these goals and affirmations are the foundation for you to fulfill your potential and create the life you want while helping others do the same. So, invest 10 minutes to read these every single day with a beginner’s mindset, and leverage the power of affirmations to reprogram your subconscious mind, it’s like a note to myself, to be more self-aware and intentional, and to direct my behavior like I did, starting in 2008. It was just a reminder to get back to the basics, the principles, the tools that work.


I also have a quote at the top of my affirmations. You might want to write this one down. It’s a quote from John Wooden. It’s just a reminder, “Do the best you can. No one can do more than that.” As a reminder, I don’t know if you’re like me, if you’re a perfectionist, if you’re hard on yourself, that was like when I read that quote, I’m like, “Oh, yes, just do the best I can. That’s all I can do.” Like, stop being so hard on myself.


All right, where do you want to go from here? Or should we wrap it up? You know what? Let’s review what we talked about today, and then let’s wrap it up. And what we ended up talking about, which was not the plan, but I went in-depth on Byron Katie’s process of inquiry or what she calls the work. It’s the four questions to ask yourself any time a disempowering thought pops into your mind. And if you didn’t take notes, but you can take notes right now. If you can write these questions down, I highly encourage you to do that.


And the first thing I want you to write down is these are the four questions that you ask any time a disempowering thought pops into your mind. And you need to be self-aware enough to know that, to be examining what are the thoughts that you’re thinking. And whenever you feel a sense of stress, you can almost always source that back to a stressful thought. If you feel disempowered, you can almost always source that back to a disempowering thought.


Now, when we think those thoughts regularly, one of the challenges are they become totally unconscious. So, we’re not aware. We’re not consciously trying to think disempowering thoughts. They’re just running on autopilot in our subconscious mind. So, you have to make the unconscious conscious. Journaling is a great way to do that. By the way, I started to mention that earlier and then I switched gears. But scribing, just free writing, I did that this morning, right? Writing what am I thinking, what is on my mind, and just writing everything out. Not filtering it. Not trying to figure anything out or think. Just letting it go. What comes up for you when you ask the question, what thoughts am I thinking lately, right? And write them down. I go, I’m constantly thinking about this and I’m worried about this and I’m stressed about this. And I’m actually excited about this, but I’m also, like, write down everything. They call that free writing, where you just allow the thoughts to flow from your subconscious. You don’t filter them at all. You don’t filter them with your conscious mind, which normally, we filter our thoughts, we judge them, right? We stop ourselves from thinking. No, free writing is where you go straight from the conscious mind to the page, whether you’re writing by hand with a pen or you are typing it out.


So, back to the work, these four questions. So, these are the four questions you ask any time a disempowering thought pops into your mind. Number one, is it true? Is it true? Number two, can you absolutely know that it’s true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Number three, how do you react? What happens when you believe that thought? Again, how does it make you feel? Does it empower you or does it disempower you? If it caused you to feel painful, negative, stressful emotions, it is likely disempowering you. There are rare occasions, usually in a very short amount of time, that a stressful thought that’s disempowering, it empowers you because you realize, “Oh, this thought is a reminder that I need to make a change in my life, and I’m going to make that change.” But you don’t dwell on that disempowering thought. Otherwise, your state of consciousness will become one of disempowered.


And the number four question, who would you be without that thought? Who would you be without that thought? And if you want to jot down in parentheses, the first answer that always comes to my mind is free. Without that disempowering thought, I would be free. Free to what? And then it depends on the situation. I’d be free from stress. I’d be free from fear. I’d be free from feeling overwhelmed. I’d be free to be happy. I’d be free to take action. These four questions lead you to freedom.


Last week, we talked about inner freedom and how to cultivate inner freedom. And that’s not a one podcast topic because cultivating inner freedom is a lifelong process and there are countless ways to approach cultivating and maintaining a state of inner freedom. And that’s kind of one of my primary goals in life is true inner freedom. And so, that’s a theme that will constantly be a part of this podcast.


All right, goal achievers and members of the Miracle Morning Community, I hope this review of Byron Katie’s process of inquiry from her book Loving What Is was valuable for You. And that was inspired by my new friend, Gordy Bal. We had a great conversation today, even though we couldn’t do the podcast. And I think you’re going to love our conversation that you will probably get next week, if not, the week after. And until next week, make this a great one. Enjoy this one life you’ve been blessed to live. Again, we only get one and it’s going to be challenging at times. And we’re going to face obstacles and we’re going to get knocked down. But whether or not we enjoy each moment of this life we’ve been blessed to live, that’s our choice. That is the choice that the state of consciousness known as inner freedom allows us. It’s the freedom to choose how you experience each moment of your life. And again, we only get one. So, let’s enjoy as many of these moments as we possibly can. Focus on what you’re grateful for, focus on being at peace with what you can’t change, and take action every day to create the life that you want. You deserve nothing less. All right, friend, I love you so much and I will talk to you next week.


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