20 Nov Monitoring our thoughts
We talked about monitoring thoughts in a FB live event on Nov 17, 2016.
OK, how DO we monitor our thoughts? Can we catch or see them? No but we all know they are there. I did a quick search online and… do you know that we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day? 35 and 48 thoughts per minute per person? Can you monitor all of them? No, absolutely not. My assumption is that 99.999999+% are innocuous but we do get some zingers in there! Let’s talk through how to monitor these thoughts and do something about them, vs your thoughts controlling you.
When you start to observe your emotions, thoughts and behaviors, you can start to see them for what they are, indicators. Neutral thoughts normally roll on down the river of consciousness, Positive thoughts make us feel good like we are floating down the river, but those negative ones, can cause a log jam or worse yet, toxic pollution. Those negative thoughts about ourselves or others can be a powerful tool for change.
Two impacts of negatively charged thoughts:
- Our initial thought about ourselves or others being _____ fill in that blank with your favorite negatively charged word. Stupid, an idiot, dumb, angry, etc. This comes fast and many times causes either judgement of ourselves or others.
- Then we have a reactionary thought, normally that we ourselves must be awful for thinking it or our assumptions are reinforced about ourselves or others.
Check out this example from my own head! I like to use humor to deflect anger. Notice the first automatic thought and then the secondary thought about the first.
When I started to observe my thoughts, I had the same automatic and visceral reaction to people but had a different lens. Check this out… doesn’t that feel better? It sure did for me.
OK, that’s great you may say… but how DO I monitor my thoughts?
Many people I speak to are in a whirlwind of their own thoughts, asks and demands of others, assumptions about themselves and others, etc and the world seems so chaotic. It can be if we keep telling ourselves that we can’t do X, we are not worth Y and the world and we, well, suck! It was SO easy for me to get mired down in my own negative thoughts but little by little I started to observe them, challenge their validity and turn the thoughts and my mood around. Thoughts are energy and can be very powerful.
I would not suggest starting this when you are angry as that usually leads to an internal sarcastic battle between you and your thoughts. If you are angry, write down your thought and get to it later when you are willing to look objectively at the thought and you need to want to take accountability for your thoughts and change them.
Struggling? That is OK, it takes intent, patience, practice and objectivity. Try this.
- Get into a quiet place and be still.
- Imagine the left of you is your past and picture a wall going up blocking off your past hurts, depression or assumptions.
- Imaging to the right is your future and picture a wall blocking off any worry or concerns about the what is even happening the next minute.
- Be centered and focus on what is right in front of you, the present, right now.
- Visualize your consciousness rising and you are looking outside in to your head at the thought. Better yet, imagine the words of the thought to be objective.
- Validate that thought starting with a simple yes or no.
- Is the person really trying to ruin your day? Are you really the most stupid person on the planet? Is your life really over if you don’t get or keep your job?
- Don’t get in to the “yes/no… but.. “trap. For example, “No, that person is not trying to ruin my day… but… but … but…. that is how I feel! I can’t help it! She is a jerk”. This normally happens when you are angry. Start with yes or no and go from there.
- Lessen the power the thought has little by little.
- Don’t get angry if you struggle a bit at first. If it was so easy, we wouldn’t be having this chat.
- Watch your assumptions about other people’s intentions.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand where he/she is coming from.
Give it a try! Changing your thoughts is up to you.