Our thoughts have a powerful impact on how we see and interact with the world around us. They direct both our emotions and our actions, and because of this, it is very important to take the time to notice what we are thinking. We can get stuck in thinking patterns and habits that we may not even consciously notice once they are automated.
It is also helpful for us to acknowledge that our mind can (and will) lie to us, so we cannot believe everything we think. Our minds may manipulate information for various reasons including: attempting to divert us from negative outcomes, shaping our experiences so that our thoughts support our beliefs, working to protect us from feeling specific emotions, or trying to make it easier for us to cope with what is happening in our lives.
The issues arise when we do not ever fact-check what we are thinking and we allow the mind to run free, shaping our reality with no redirection at all. We can find ourselves living our lives based on half-truths and assumptions with a fixed mindset, closed off to other perspectives or possibilities. We may buy into stories that are not based on all of the facts and find ourselves hooked by emotion, causing us to react rather than respond as we would like. Over time, this pattern evolves, or really devolves, into a very contracted state which leads to more difficulty in our lives.
The patterns in our thoughts create superhighways that become the default for our thinking and can lead to themes such as always looking for what is wrong, feeling that everything in our lives is happening to us rather than for us, and powerlessness over how our lives unfold. When these types of cognitive models become the norm, we may be lured in by desire to numb out and deny what is really happening as well as giving up on our hopes and dreams.
The good news is that we can change our thoughts and that we have the power to shift the habits in our minds, just as we can shift the habits in our behaviors. The more difficult news is that, in opposition to the instant gratification we are sold in ads, helpful lasting change takes time and effort.
Our first step is to check in with our thoughts and examine the stories that are playing in our heads. Are they based on enough information for us to move into action? Is our mind selling us tabloid-style headlines that hook us into stress response and bring up emotions that feel overwhelming or off-limits? If we can observe what our minds are doing, we can begin to step back into the power of not only redirecting our thoughts, but also creating thoughts that lead to emotions and actions that support who we want to be and how we want to show up in our lives.
This next week, I invite you to check in with what is happening in your mind and investigate patterns that may have been hidden to you before. Take some time to fact-check the stories, ask if you have all of the information you need, and give yourself permission to pause or to ask questions in order to gain clarity. Our thoughts direct our emotions and our actions, so this first step is an important one.
I will be investigating right along with you.
Chat again soon,