Week One Digest — Tips For Thinking
Your thoughts and thinking patterns are vital to your health, happiness and development.
Everything begins with a thought
Your thoughts matter; they create what comes into your life. So it’s vital to pay attention to the quality of your thinking.
The Nature of thinking
Thinking isn’t just your internal dialogue or self-talk. Thinking involves all your senses. You make a representation internally – in your mind – of what is happening ‘out there’ in the world.
For example, as you read the word ‘dog’, you might picture a dog. You may recall a dog bark, the feel of a dog’s coat or the smell of a dog. (Hopefully, there’s no taste — unless it’s a hot dog!) Or perhaps you talk to yourself about your own dog or a dog you know. Or, all your senses might be engaged, just to 'make sense' of that one word.
Read the last paragraph again and notice how many types of thinking you used as you read it.
What you do in your head in response to what's happening outside you, is what your body — and the universe responds to.
The problem with thinking
Many of your thoughts are repetitive and unconscious, but thinking is so quick and easy for you that, for the most part you're probably unaware of this. (See page 4 in your Problems to Possibilities Guide). Repetitive thinking makes sense when you examine your day-to-day behaviour. Much of it is also repetitive; just remind yourself of all the tasks you perform, in the same way. Every. Single. Day.
Routine thinking might be perfectly OK. But, if your thoughts are disapproving, gloomy or downright negative they will impact how you feel. Longer term they’ll also affect your health and wellbeing — inhibiting your ability to create what you want.
The nature of reality
Reality is what is occurring outside of you. Self-talk is how you comment on your experience of reality — not how you comment on reality itself.
This is an important distinction.
You interpret what’s happening in your outer world and create your own thoughts relating to that interpretation. This is why two people can share an experience and one will perceive it as unpleasant, while the other regards it as fun. Think of a roller coaster ride — or a bungy jump — as examples.
The ‘reality’ is the same for both people, but their processing and perception of it can be vastly different.
Your body responds to your perception of reality — not reality itself.
Your mind can’t tell the difference between something you vividly imagine and something that’s real. So, by re-membering an unpleasant memory, your body reacts as if you were experiencing it all over again. This isn't good for your mental, emotional or physical health!
Your self-talk or internal dialogue.
The words you use when you talk to yourself also have an impact on your body, and thus how you feel. The way you process language — whether spoken out loud or in your head — can alter the chemicals in your brain, affecting your emotional state.
It’s your emotional state that has the most impact on your ability to successfully manifest what you want. This is the reason it’s also crucial to pay attention to your internal dialogue.
There's nothing like first-hand experience to enhance your understanding
Click the link below to listen to this short audio. It will give you a direct experience of how words affect you. It's only a couple of minutes long, but could add years to your life.
Imagine how you’d feel each night if you’d used negative language to yourself all day long. Long-term negative thinking contributes to depression and ill health. On the other hand, positive internal conversations contribute to good health and well-being.
At your core, I’m sure you understand the impact of negative words. After all, I doubt you’d speak horribly to someone you cared about. So please, care for and talk kindly to yourself!
Catch your thoughts when you’re not consciously creating — because all your perceptions count. Continual self-deprecating or judgemental thinking could be just what is holding you back.
Here's an example
I once worked with a woman who wanted to consciously create a new house. We talked about how she was getting along in the creation process, and it seemed that when she was deliberately focused on her goal, she was doing pretty well. However, when we explored her general thinking patterns, outside of the few minutes a day she was consciously ‘working on’ on her goal, we found lots of negative thinking, resulting in stress and unpleasant feelings in her body. This was evidenced by her feelings of jealousy and resentment towards other peoples’ good fortune. She created tension in her body by competing with her friends. She regularly checked her bank account balance and commented on how little she had. She then estimated that about 80% of her thinking was detrimental to what she was trying to achieve.
If you’ve acquired a habit of negative self-talk — how do you change?
The first step is to notice it. Until you're aware of any critical running commentary, you can’t change it.
When you do become aware it, don’t beat up on yourself! You'll just feel worse. Better to congratulate yourself for noticing it, “Wow! That’s great, I noticed that self-talk. Now I can start changing it!”
The next thing is to STOP!
You can jam your negative self-talk by:
- Yelling STOP! It’s best to do this out loud if possible — but better in your head if you’re with others!
- Imagining a STOP sign or a red traffic light.
- Doing something to distract yourself — like inhaling the scent of your favourite oil or perfume, peering intently out of a window and into the distance, focusing on what you can see.
- Singing or saying something positive out loud.
- Getting up and moving. Dancing is great. Again, focus on something in the distance.
- Put on some upbeat music that you love and sing along — it’s just about impossible to think bad thoughts while you’re singing and dancing.
Whatever it takes to STOP.
Challenge the thoughts
Now you can objectively challenge your self-talk by asking questions such as:
- Is what I'm saying to myself really accurate? Be objective about this. If the answer’s yes, what evidence do I have?
- Is it always true? What percentage of the time is it true? Again be objective about this.
- What can I learn from this?
- And if I learn that, what will that mean?
- What’s the positive intention of the internal voice? (Believe it or not, there usually is a positive intention.)
- How can I achieve that positive intention in another way?
- What is something more constructive I could afirm to myself?
O.K. Time For An Example
Let’s say your 'inner terrorist' comments on a mistake you made, “Gee, you’re useless, that’s another mistake. You’re always making mistakes, blah, blah, blah etc.,” Running the questions above might go something like:
Q: Being objective, is this really true? In other words, am I really useless and do I always make mistakes? “Well, no actually I’ve got quite a lot right today, so no, it’s not always true. In fact on a scale of 1-100 I’ve got about 98% right.”
Q: What can I learn from this? “Well, I’ve learned that if I do ‘x’, then I get a bad result. However, if I do ‘y’, then I get a better result.”
Q: And if I learn that, what will that mean? “It means if I do ‘y’ in future I’ll get consistently better results.”
Q: What’s the positive intent of the internal voice? (Just ask – you’ll get an answer.) “Hmm, it’s to make me aware of the mistake so I can learn from it and don't repeat it.”
Q: How can I achieve that positive intention in another way? “I could just stop and acknowledge when I’ve made a mistake, take note of the positive things I’ve learned from making a mistake and then move on!”
Q: What is something more constructive I could afirm to myself? "I am human. Mistakes are just feedback to help me improve."
Get the idea?
Start noticing and congratulating yourself on all the things you do well. Even small things that you become aware of and can comment on confidently and consciously can make a big difference to your self-esteem and thus your state.
The point of change is now
No matter how badly you've spoken to yourself in the past, the point of change is always right now. Right this minute you can begin to make changes so that your future will be different from your past.
Key points from the last seven days
- Everything begins with a thought. What beginnings are you creating with your thoughts today?
- Catch your thoughts, keep the positive ones, let the others go.
- Your thoughts matter. In other words, what you think becomes matter.
- Watch your thoughts when you’re not consciously creating. All thoughts — both conscious and unconscious — impact your ability to get what you want.
- Your body hears and reacts to every thought. Be kind.
- Self-talk is how you comment on your experience of reality — not how you comment on reality itself.
- Past ≠ future. Your past does not equal your future. Every new thought is creating a new future, now.
Next week we’ll be delving into the importance of the present moment.
I know, I've been there too. It can feel like a constant hunger — that no matter what you do, the satisfaction is always short-lived. The hunger returns, gnawing at your soul.
Or you don’t achieve the goal
So what are you searching for?
Maybe you can't answer that question. You just know that you want more. I spent years searching for 'more'. The thoughts that drove me were "There must be more to life than this?" and "What am I here for?"
In the end, what was missing was a sense of purpose and meaning.
Ironically, once I found my answers, I knew I'd never achieve purpose and meaning from my senior management career.
That's not to say that other people can't find fulfilment in their careers — just that I couldn't. I left that career and started a training and coaching business, MetaMorphosis Ltd
Living a meaningful life goes beyond material possessions, beyond financial abundance — although it can of course — include both.
You know you’re capable of more.
That's probably why you're here. You want to contribute at a different level; to develop more of your potential and creativity.
I can help!
I've coached and trained thousands of people for over 20 years. I'll guide you to identify your mission or purpose. Then I'll work with you to overcome whatever obstacles stand in your way, so you can live life on your terms.