The Meaning of Our Thoughts
I've been talking to clients this morning about the importance of noticing….every.thing.
And when I say notice, I mean notice without attaching any judgement. Being a detective. Noticing clues and patterns. Noticing when you want to berate or beat yourself up about what's happening, or not happening....
- For things you should have done...
- For something you ought to have said...
- For knowing better, yet doing or saying it anyway!
Whatever you say to yourself regularly that’s negative, demotivating or disempowering, these are your habitual thought patterns. (Of course we do also have positive, motivating and empowering thoughts, however these are often outnumbered by the negative.)
These negative thought patterns are what's keeping you from feeling great, staying motivated, sticking to timeframes, doing what you want, and achieving your goals.
Thoughts like 'I should know better', 'I've done it again', 'when will I ever learn?’, 'maybe I should just (??? your words of choice) because I'm obviously no good at this’, ‘why do I procrastinate so much?’, ‘what’s wrong with me?’
These are all unhelpful.
Yet we're told that although we can't control the outside world or external circumstances, we can control what we think.
Really? I no longer think so.
Don’t believe me, or not sure? Let’s try a fun experiment, if you have 5 minutes….
For the next 3 minutes 30 seconds I want you to think of how much you love one member of your family. Do not think of anything or anyone else at all, not once.
At the end of the that time spend 30 seconds thinking about dinner tonight....only what you'll be eating, nothing else. Then spend the final 1 minute thinking about the next job you're going to do at work. One activity only, no other work related activities.
That’s it. Only 5 minutes out of your 1440 minute day. Can you do that?
I know I can’t…
Thinking about my husband immediately makes me think of others I love, or something he did or said. Thinking about dinner reminds me I need to go shopping, which reminds me of non food related items I also want to pick up.
And thinking about my next job has me wondering how long it will take, or how long I can give myself to do. And whether I can fit something else in before I stop working.
Sure, I could give myself a different thought which might make me feel better in that moment, but I know that my thoughts are not dependant on me having something positive to say when I’m being negative. They simply occur, regardless of what I’m trying to think of!
Rather, noticing what’s going on for me is the best way for me to ‘deal with my thinking’. By this I mean that the more I notice, and stay curious; not judging myself for ‘negative’ thoughts, simply viewing all thoughts as fleeting and neither positive nor negative, the more I realise that I don’t have to try to control my thoughts.
Because I no longer think of them as good or bad. They’re simply there, and a condition of being human.
My thoughts don’t have the same effect on the way I feel. Because our feelings are generated when we attach certain meanings to these thoughts.
And when we become less attached to our thoughts, we no longer ascribe meaning to them, so they don’t have the same capacity to make us feel bad.
And what happens when we’re not feeling bad? When we aren’t so caught up in our thoughts?
We notice, as if by magic, that we actually feel ok. That we have an underlying sense of well-being. Always there when we don’t cover it with thoughts about the meaning of our thoughts!
Image from Pixabay