Taking the time to observe your thoughts may be the most important step you can take toward a more fulfilling, productive and joyful life!
For Christmas last year, I received a cool gift from one of my grandsons. It’s a 5-year daily journal, the kind that asks a different question for each day of the year … after which you repeat the process for the next four years. Many of the questions are focused around your thoughts about this or that and you answer accordingly. I think it will be intriguing to look back at my responses from year to year to see how things have changed for me … how my choices and myfocusmay have shifted over the course of time.
This journal provides lots of food for thought and at the same time it points to a profound truth … that we are daily thinking thoughts, making decisions and having experiences which affect the direction and quality of our lives. Since that is the case, it seems important to pay attention to them.
Author: Mike Dooley has said – “Thoughts become things, choose the good ones”
When I was a child … and even into adolescence, I recall hearing my Dad say …. (Usually with some exasperation in his voice) “I can’t never could” … “I can’t never could” …. This was his way of letting me know that he expected me to at least try whatever it was I was supposed to do!
Henry Ford once made a quote that has become quite famous – “ Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right” which emphasizes how much our attitudedetermines success or failure.
So, how is it that negative thoughts seem to run the show for so many people? I mean, the first thought in the morning for some folks is a negative one. For example: “oh, I’m so tired” “Oh no, it’s raining again” “I hate going to work” “My back is aching” “what am I going to do about this problem … or that problem?” The result is that the day is launched in a negative direction and not surprisingly, throughout the day, negative events, people and developments are somehow drawn to these individuals.
There are some who teach and believe that you should say only positive things … positive affirmations so to speak. I have often heard “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” There may be some value to that adage, however, I now realize that it is quite beneficial to pay attention to those negative thoughts, emotions and statements that are coming from deep within and to explore the reasons for them. By doing this, you can begin to address the wounds or emotional scars that may be speaking up or acting out through your words, thoughts or actions.
As a child, … by the time you were 6, 7 or 8 years of age, you had developed your CORE BELIEFS. What that means is, based on your early decisions of what is right, wrong, good or bad, your 6, 7, or 8 year old younger self actually began to direct your life … and continues to do so throughout life! Your younger self, is in charge of your finances, your relationships, your business decisions and your self-talk!
In another vane, it is most probable that there are painful or traumatic experiences which have impacted you at a deep level, triggering your self-preservation (fight or flight) response. Interestingly, when you encounter similar events later in life, that same defense mechanism can be triggered again, causing you to respond with comparable intensity.
Gary Craig, the founder of a modern healing modality called EFT , or Emotional Freedom Techniques, has compared the inside of our minds to the inside of a room. If you can imagine … all of the walls of that room are covered with writings …. statements of ones deeply held beliefs. Hopefully there are lots of positive ones, but most surely there are plenty of negative ones … such as “I am not good at sports” “I’m not good at math” “I can’t sing” “I don’t have what it takes to develop good or lasting relationships” “I am not lovable” “people will always disappoint me” “people will always hurt me” “people will always abandon me” “it’s unsafe to become emotionally attached”. Knowing this analogy and how these statements impact the way our minds move from one thought to another, from one decision to another and from one choice to another is a powerful place to begin some transformation. Becoming aware of the self-talk that is constantly going on throughout the day can also lead to greater transformation…from reactive to pro-active and from victim to EMPOWERED!
As we pay attention to our thoughts, emotions and choices, and begin to validate them …. or conversely call them into question, we will discover that we are no longer being led helplessly by the nose, but that we are actually in the “driver’s seat” and we are able to direct our thoughts … and our choices.
There are a couple of things that I suggest which may be helpful for moving into this positive direction –
- Practice keeping a daily gratitude journal. It is widely held that the simple act of jotting down three or four – or more – things for which you are grateful at the end of each day can have a dynamic affect in a variety of ways. One of the best is … a more positive outlook on life. Another one is a heightened sensitivity to our ever-present inner dialogue.
- Practice becoming aware of your breath. Mentally follow the movement of your breath as you slowly and deeply inhale and then as you deeply and slowly exhale. As you do this with 5 or 6 breaths a few times each day, it may surprise you how much more focused and calm you become and how much more easily you process the events of your day.
To be sure, there are lots of other self-help tools which you can utilize to help you live life on your terms. So, as you become an observer of your thoughts, emotions and choices and make decisions about how you want to live your one wild and amazing life, I hope you will keep in mind the fact that thoughts do become things and that you will allow yourself to choose the good ones!
LIFE CAN BE HARD, EFT CAN HELP
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ― Lao Tzu