“Don’t’ believe everything you think.”
What does that even mean?
Throughout the day our minds are a constant stream of thoughts, both good and bad. The problem, though, is that your thoughts create your world. So…. if you’re constantly thinking about what you don’t want to do or how other people are the problem, you’ll continue to live in a world of negativity and blame. If, though, you can begin to reframe your thoughts, you can begin to live in a world filled with gratitude, perseverance, and strength, even through the most difficult of situations.
When we believe our negative thoughts it clouds our perception of the world. Think about it… if you have a big interview coming up, how will your performance will be affected if your thoughts say “they won’t like me, I don’t have anything to offer them, I know I won’t get this job, etc.” On the other hand, if you prepare for your interview by thinking about all your strengths and how you can be an asset to the company your performance will drastically change for the better. Positive thinking may not get you the job, but it will improve your interview experience.
3 Simple Steps to Bring You More Joy
Step 1: Start paying attention to your thoughts, especially the ones that cause you distress.
Step 2: Write down or take note of the most distressing thoughts. Maybe it’s that nobody helps you around the house, that your coworker is a slacker, or that you’ll never get to your ideal weight.
Step 3: For each thought, ask yourself “Is it true?”
You’ll find that even this simple step is enough to stop that distressing thought in its tracks. If not, though, ask yourself “can I absolutely know it’s true?” If you think your coworker is a slacker you may believe that thought is true. However, when you ask yourself if you can absolutely know it’s true, then you realize there are many factors in play that you cannot see. Perhaps your coworker has a special needs child at home that takes up most of his energy and focus or maybe he recently found out his wife was cheating on him. Once you consider the possible back story, the initial story becomes less true. Regardless of the actual story, the act of inquiry is enough to help you begin to question your distressing thoughts.
Now, if those steps are helpful you can stop at step 3. However, if you’re interested in digging deeper here is some extra credit:
- Make a list of evidence for the thought and evidence against the thought.
- Identify how you behave and feel when you believe the thought, and how you would behave and feel if you didn’t believe the thought.
- Flip that thought back to yourself and see if there is any truth in that thought. For example, if you believe your coworker is a slacker, then you would search inside to see if that thought could apply to yourself. Do you scroll through Facebook at work? Take longer breaks than allowed? Log in when you aren’t actually working? This step can be very powerful, because often the traits in others that are most frustrating are the ones we don’t like within ourselves. Once we realize that we could improve in this area, the judgment of others often dissipates.
Changing your thoughts will not guarantee that you go through life without difficult situations. It will, though, change how you experience difficult situations and thus improve your life.
If you are having difficulty applying these steps or need additional support, then you may want to consider personalized support through ZeSa Life Health Coaching.