Strategies for Staying Sane: Reprogramming Your Mind

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus


George had been an unhappy and anxious person for most of his adult life. Finally, after many years of silently watching him suffer, his younger sister, Jennie, suggested he seek counseling and disclosed to him that she had sought therapy some years ago and was greatly helped by it. “Oh, why bother,” Gcorge remarked. “When you went for counseling you were young enough to benefit from it. I’m too old and set in my ways, and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”


Most people assume that there is not much that can be done about the mind. If it shows you depressing pictures or dwells on discouraging thoughts, you go around feeling depressed.

If your mind keeps dwelling on inadequacies and faults, you’ll go around feeling powerless and bad. If it keeps repeating that you can’t do this and won’t know that, you assume that’s just how it is.

In fact, we can change and control our images and thoughts. People often say, “That’s just the way I am.” Untrue. It simply depends on who’s in charge.

Minds do what they are programmed to do. Chances are that if you were belittled as a child, your mind will have recorded all those humiliations and will play them back at every opportunity. If you once had a bad experience with arithmetic, your mind may have decided to keep you away from anything having to do with numbers.

So here you are, ten, twenty, thirty or more years later, still telling yourself that you can’t do math and making it impossible to give it a chance. Much of the mind’s negative programming consists of such self imposed limitations that keep you from realizing your potential.

But you don’t have to be stuck with how your mind has been programmed.

  • You can become your own programmer and manage your mind’s productions.

The different mind training methods are called by various names: mental practice, visualization, guided imagery, mindscripting, self-hypnosis, imagery rehearsal. We prefer the term mental rraining because you need to train your mind to get what you want.

Here is one of the most powerful mental training techniques. Most professional athletes do this routinely. Over and over again,

  • picture yourself achieving something that really matters to you. Picture it vividly again and again.

Chances become better and more likely that it will then happen to and for you.

Another powerful method of reprogramming your mind is to

  • talk to your negative thoughts and pessimistic self-statements as if they were naughty children.

Thus, the next time you put yourself down, for instance by saying something like “I’m stupid!” or “I’m such a weakling!” immediately address those statements ~ “Stop using words like ‘stupid’ or’weak’! Shape up!” ~ and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.

We recommend that you now read the next segment, “Achieving Mental Balance,” and re-read “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself”


Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus & Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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