Pay attention to the power of your mind
James Allen, a British philosophical writer, and pioneer of the self-help movement once said:
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you”
Although he died in 1912, I believe his words are still relevant today. How we think has an enormous impact on how we live our lives.
A few years ago, I was in my car listening to a lady on a radio show. She was going on and on about how depressed all her customers were “you see it in their faces”. This was at a time when the world economy has collapsed and there was doom and gloom in abundance.
Around this time, I had voluntarily left my permanent, pensionable job to setup my own coaching business. Some said I was crazy, others said I was brave (euphemism for crazy).
I was really positive about my decision; I knew it was the right one for me.
However, as I listened to that woman, I noticed my throat constricting slightly, it was a “what I have done?” moment. I began feeling physically uncomfortable and quickly changed the radio station. Beyonce’s voice boomed out and I felt happy and relaxed again.
So what had happened there?
The facts of my situation had not changed in those 5 minutes yet I’d gone through this huge emotional rollercoaster. What had actually changed was how I was thinking and this in turn impacted how I felt.
We do it more than we realise.
Coffey & Murray in their book ‘Emotional Intelligence (EQ) A Leadership Imperative!’ tell us that psychologists estimate we have an average of 50 thousand thoughts per day. The majority of which are focused on the past, the future, and are negative – our very own groundhog doomsday!
The negative thoughts called Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) just pop into our minds and send us off in all sorts of directions. Any of the following sound familiar?
- I’m always forgetting things
- I know I won’t pass the exam
- He must think I’m useless
- I won’t get a job like that
- She’s much funnier than me
This then spirals into inaction on our part: ‘Ah there’s no point in trying…. complete waste of time.’
People may think this is the way our brain is programmed to work. Wrong! That’s another classic example of an ANT taking a supposed fact and leaping to a precarious conclusion.
So what can we do to counteract this?
For a start, pay attention to how you are thinking. Yes, it’s that simple. Ask yourself: what story am I telling myself? How is this affecting how I feel about myself? What excuses for inaction am I giving myself? And turn those ANTS into Confidence Affirming Thoughts (CATS).
I urge you to give this a go and have some fun with it, really pay attention to your thought processes. Notice how often you deal in facts as opposed to your own interpretations.
We need to audit and regulate our own inner voice and ensure we’re being kind and supportive to ourselves. After all, If you don’t own your thoughts, they are going to own you.