8. The Thoughts You Think

Hey!  How is everyone?  With all the craziness going on in the world right now, I think we’re all trying to find our way through it.  I just want to reach through the microphone and give each one of you a giant hug and tell you, it’s all working out in our favor.  Somehow, some way, it is. 

Going through life’s challenges are what we do as humans, right?  It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the world.  You may disagree, and that’s okay if you do, but we are all human and we are all 50% messy and 50% amazing and our lives are 50% messy and 50% amazing.  And we associate with all the other humans who are 50% messy and 50% amazing. It’s just part of the deal in living a full human experience.  So when you feel that self-doubt or frustration, or any negative emotion creep in, try to remember it’s so you can also recognize the goodness and love and positive emotions that’s on their way to you.  Hang in there, my friends.

5 1/2 years ago, my family moved into a brand new home, complete withOUT a yard.  I love to create so I designed all the landscaping and then went to work on putting it in.  I took a lot of time and consideration studying about the plants I wanted, paying attention to their colors, their peak blooming seasons, size at maturity, and spacing.   Every time I do massive projects like this, when I’m done, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment, but getting there can be long and tiring.  I put in a lot of work ahead of time to painstakingly lay down heavy duty weed barrier on every inch of my yard and by the time I’m done with the project, I’m almost to the point where I don’t want to see another shovel or piece of weed barrier again.

However, I do it because I know if I put in a lot of work up front, the upkeep will be way easier. 

Today I want to talk to you about how you’re creating the life you’re living through the thoughts you’re entertaining AND how to uncover the thoughts that aren’t serving you and how to start to debunk them, so you can start creating the results you’re looking for.

Every second our eyes are open, and even sometimes when they aren’t, our brains are taking in information and deciding if it’s something we could use now, save it for later, or trash it.  There’s debate on the number, but our brains have anywhere between 6,000- 80,000 thoughts a day.  That’s a lot of thinking!

Starting at birth, we take in information all around us. Things that we are taught on purpose like reading and writing and things that we notice by observing what’s going on around us. This can be really useful because we are building habits that can set us up for an efficient and successful life.  We build neuropathways to walk, talk, drive, brush our teeth, and so on.  Today we do all these things without deliberately thinking about it because we learned it when we were young.

We have lots to learn when we’re young so it makes sense that our brains are more pliable and makes connections so much faster than when we’re adults.  If you have children or have watched a child grow, you know what I mean by how fast they pick up on things.   

As adults, our brains are less pliable so they like efficiency.  We tend to gravitate towards what we know because it’s easier on our brain.  We typically sit at the same spot at the dinner table and sleep on the same side of the bed.  We figure out the fastest way to the store, to work, or to school and we keep going that route because then we don’t have to think about it anymore. We go into autopilot.  

Whatever your brain thinks is useful and efficient, it keeps and delegates it into default mode.  Which is great when you go to brush your teeth, you don’t have to think “ok, I grab the toothbrush, I put water on the brush, I grab the toothpaste, I take the cap off, I put the toothpaste on the brush, put the cap back on the toothpaste, wet the toothpaste on the brush, proceed with brushing, which then you’re making sure you get the top, bottom, sides, and behinds of your teeth.  Could you imagine if you had to concentrate on all those steps each time?  So it’s very efficient to have the habit of brushing our teeth in default mode.   

It’s not great when you’ve inadvertently created a belief that isn’t serving you. 

From the time we are babies we are like a sponge soaking up and learning everything.  Once I started coaching, I noticed that I had unconsciously developed a lot of unhelpful belief systems from TV, magazines, and society on a whole.  This is how I should dress, this is how I should behave.  If I want to be thin, I should exercise.  If I want to be included, I should act like them.  

My brain was working perfectly, but I wasn’t aware of the pain it was causing me.  I had thousands of daily thoughts, but wasn’t questioning most of them.  Essentially, I wasn’t weeding my brain.  I wasn’t questioning if I really believed those thoughts, what I was making them mean, and if I liked the way they made me feel.

The scariest monsters are the thoughts that sound “pretty” and seem useful or are harmless, but really create negative feelings or a belief of thinking “I’m not good enough.”

For example, the thought, “Long hair is beautiful.” In my early  20’s, among other things, I totally went through a hair crisis.  What I really loved was super long, thick hair.  My hair was a little past my shoulders and not thick, but not thin. To me, it was just….meh!  My self-confidence was really low and I didn’t like myself.  Because my hair was the easiest and fastest thing to change, I went the opposite extreme of long and cut it super short. Now watch what my brain was thinking, “long hair is beautiful…so my average, not thick, not thin, meh hair is not beautiful”, which made me feel sad and pity myself.  So I took action to change it because I’m thinking that’ll make me feel better.  That’ll make me like myself more. 

It didn’t. Our thoughts are what create our feelings which ultimately fuel our actions, and that’s how we get the results in our life.

 It may not be a surprise that changing my hair didn’t change my feelings.  I was still sad and still pitied myself.  I was still thinking that I wasn’t beautiful. I wasn’t good enough.  AND now I had short hair.

So thoughts like, “long hair is beautiful” might really mean just that, that you think long hair is beautiful. Period. But if you’re someone who’s always loved long hair but couldn’t get yours to grow long, then a little weed you may not be hearing behind the thought “long hair is beautiful” is “and I’ll never have it… so my hair isn’t beautiful.”    Only you know the answer to what your thoughts mean to you, but if you’re feeling off and you can’t figure out why, it might just be one of those “pretty thoughts” that need a closer look.   

That was kind of a simple one, but what about this thought:  “I just want everyone in my family to get along” That sounds like such a lovely thought because who wouldn’t want that?  But that thought usually causes us pain because it means we are focusing on something outside of us that we have no control over which is other people.  Maybe it’s your kids you want to get along and you’re thinking I can control them.  You can give them consequences for not getting along, but sometimes consequences aren’t enough and they still don’t get along.  Thinking I just want everyone to get along” makes you feel like there’s something wrong every time they don’t get along.  But what if there isn’t anything wrong with it?  What if it’s a great opportunity for them to learn conflict resolution?  Or a great time to learn compromise?  Or what if we decided that sometimes families don’t get along and I love them.  This gives you back all your power to feel the way you want instead of waiting for them to change for you to have the experience you want to have.

“Pretty” thoughts can turn ugly if we aren’t paying attention to them.  Ironically lots of weeds have really pretty flowers before they grow thorns.

One more  example: “I was going to exercise, but I was too lazy and didn’t want to get up” I’ve caught myself saying this!  judging ourselves doesn’t motivate us.  All it does is layer shame and guilt on top of what we’re already feeling. And, lazy has a bad vibe to it.  I shouldn’t be so lazy sounds like I’m putting myself down.  No one feels good when they think there’s something wrong with them.  What if it was really that “I didn’t sleep as well last night so I chose to sleep longer”?  Way different feeling than the beat-yourself-up thinking of “I’m lazy.”

Not even realizing it, with the “I’m lazy” weedy thought lingering, I really wasn’t motivated to eat very healthy that day either. By the evening I was feeling awful and totally thought it was because I didn’t get up and exercise.  But now that I recognize my thoughts and how they affect me, I can totally have a day where I sleep in, not exercise, still eat healthy and still feel motivated.  Both times I didn’t exercise.  The only thing that changed was the way I thought about it.

Where I live, morning glory and tumbleweeds grow crazy.  Because I have weed barrier everywhere they like to nestle themselves right up through the base of my bushes.  Particularly my thorny rose bushes.  (It’s like they know it’ll hurt more to try and get to them there.)  If I don’t watch each week for the morning glory around my plants, they’ll start to choke out the plant.  Like the morning glory in my yard, creeping weed thoughts seem rather harmless until you don’t tend to them right away.  If you don’t watch for them, before you know it, they’ve turned into giant hard-to-pull-out monsters.

Thoughts that we think all the time turn into beliefs.  They are thoughts we’ve had for so long that it absolutely has to be nothing else, but true. Some beliefs serve us very well.  We don’t want to get rid of those.  However, my belief that ‘long hair is beautiful’ ‘I wish they’d all get along’ and ‘I’m lazy if I don’t exercise’ was causing me to question my self-worth and give up my own authority on how I wanted to experience life.  If your belief is causing you pain that won’t go away, it is a weed.

What if we all learned a radical new way to brush our teeth?  It’s twice as effective, but completely different.  We have a habit that will need to be undone as we grow the new one.  Strong neuropathways have been built for that habit, so it’ll take time to change it.  It’s the same with weedy beliefs, those will take extra time and care to undo as well. 

How do you know if your thoughts are weed thoughts? How do you know what you’re even thinking?  I mean REALLY thinking.

First step is awareness- knowing what your mind is telling you is based on what it’s noticed.  To do this, get a piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind.  Allow yourself to write without judging your thoughts.

Doing a thought download is like cleaning out your pantry or your closet.  If you really want to clean and organize it, you’re going to take everything out, look at it, decide what you want to keep and what you want to trash. Now that you know what you’re thinking, it’s time to be deliberate. It’s time to decide what you want to keep and what’s trash.

you can ask these questions:

Do I want this?

Does it serve me? Which means is this helping me or is it hurting me to think this way?

If it’s hurting you, then ask why do I think this way?  From a place of curiosity, like it’s a science experiment.

Where do I think I learned this?

Is it outdated? Did it serve in the past, but is no longer serving me?  So maybe it motivated you in the past but it’s not resonating the same now.

Does it help me become more of who I want to be?- just like calling myself lazy didn’t get me up and motivated.

Does it put distance between me and someone I love?

Now you can put everything that you want back in and it’s way easier to manage because you know what’s there and you can deliberately start to do something about it.  Does that mean your “closet” won’t ever be messy again?  Maybe you’re the unicorn who only has to clean out your real closet once, but not me.  I’m always switching out clothes and shoes that are either outdated, don’t fit right, or I just don’t like anymore.  And I have the items that I’m not ready to get rid of yet because of sentimental reasons.  Your thoughts will be the same. You may have some thoughts or beliefs you’re not ready to let go of. And that’s ok. The point is you know what’s there and now you can do what you want with them.

You can’t get rid of morning glory.  Their roots are long and lasting.  The best you can do is continue to pull them where you see them so they don’t take over and eventually choke out your plant.

Just like morning glory- some thoughts are deep seeded and may never go away, but I don’t think you necessarily have to completely get rid of them, maybe just control the spread.  By continually monitoring them and questioning if they are true or if someone, somewhere just made it up and society latched on to it like it’s absolute truth, you WILL start to feel different.

Thoughts are commonly misdirected to what’s going on around us.  Most of society unknowingly allows what’s happening around them to drive their actions.  They blame their actions because of what someone else did and they don’t realize that it’s their thoughts about what’s happening is the real culprit.  I think it’s easy to see how our thoughts can ultimately create our results, but it’s hard to wrap the brain around the fact that everything that happens to us is completely neutral until we decide what we think about it.  We think that others can hurt our feelings.  We think that a situation can make us mad or sad or frustrated or happy even.  The reason why is because our belief about the situation feels true.

Let me ask you this?  When you’re driving and get cut off, how do you feel about the person in that car?  Mild irritation, pure frustration, or concern?  Did you know that all those feelings are possible in this situation?  How could that be?  Same situation, different thoughts about it.  I’ve felt all these emotions after getting cut off. 

I tried an experiment.  Anytime I was driving and got cut off, I asked myself what am I thinking? Mild irritation came when I thought, that’s not very nice, but pure frustration was felt when I was late and a person swerved into my lane with feet to spare and then slowed down so it was impossible to pass.  My thoughts went something like, are you kidding me?  I am so late! That was so rude!  Then, another time someone cut me off, I intentionally chose to think, they could be on their way to the hospital where a loved one is badly hurt or possibly dying.  I hope everything is okay. And I felt concern. 

Being cut off was the circumstance and then all these different emotions were based on how I thought about it. Who knows why each person cut me off or if they even realized they cut me off, but when I took control of my own thoughts, I was able to have a better driving experience.   Fascinating, right?  

Once you’ve become aware of your thoughts, the second step is to get to point where you can separate the circumstances from your thoughts. This can be very challenging, my friends and sometimes the only way to do it is by writing everything down so you can see it better.  You’ll know you’ve done a good job finding the circumstance if it can be something that everyone agrees on.  Like if it’s 50 degrees outside.  Everyone can look at the thermometer where you are and see that it’s 50 degrees.

Recognizing your thought doesn’t meant that you’re going to try to feel better about a situation, but you recognize that the only thing making the situation negative, or positive, is your thinking.  There may be some circumstances that you want to feel negatively about, like murder.  Awareness doesn’t mean you’ll be happy and feel positive all the time.  Awareness allows you to have authority over your life experience which means you get to decide how you want to feel and take back your power if you’ve unintentionally lost it.

If you do only one thing differently today, start noticing your thoughts.  ALL of them. Or as many as you can.  It’s a great place to start on weeding your path to life-changing results.

By the way, if you do have the magic secret that WILL kill my morning glory and NOT kill the rest of my plants, I’d love to hear.

If you’re looking for a life coach, I’d love to be yours.  If you want to lose weight, better your relationships, or need help with crafting your confidence, I’ve got you!  go to myinnerlove.com and sign up for a free mini-session today.

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