Last week, I realized that lately, my most destructive thought pattern is the assumption that how I am today and the choices that I make (or fail to make) define who I will become.
I’m definitely my own worst critic, but the truth is that my self-criticism is compounded by the fact that it also comes along with a long-term effect story.
“I can’t believe you didn’t get x, y, and z done today,” I sometimes tell myself.
“You will never get your act together. At this rate, you will never get anything done, you will be a failure, and you will start to hate your life, and then you’ll fail even more…” That’s a story I sometimes allow to run on a repeating loop.
Somehow, not getting one item done (an item that, for all I know, might have turned out to be unimportant or, worse, actually destructive to me or to my efforts) means the rest of my life might be a failure! Talk about jumping to an unreasonably harsh assumption!
But the truth is, a part of me doesn’t recognize that it’s unrealistic and really buys into that story. And that part of me gets very hurt, and very scared.
Where Do These Thoughts Originate?
We’ve heard it time and time again–joy, success, and a sense of purpose emanate from our state of mind. And our state of mind is informed by our thoughts. But that’s where it gets a little hazy—where do our thoughts come from?
It’s interesting to think about that because sometimes, those words aren’t even our creation. They are words that we heard from someone else, maybe a long time ago, that we internalized on a deep level, and keep revisiting.
For me, the big mystery lies not just in where my thoughts come from, but which ones I end up listening to.
Experts say that on average, we’re thinking three hundred thoughts at once. That’s a LOT of thoughts! They range from messages from our body like, “I’m hungry,” or “I’m cold,” to recollections, emotions, or ideas.
Most of our thoughts are recurring ones, but some are brand new. Some thoughts were created by us, but many are something we heard from someone else that stuck with us.
Managing The Chaos
If we’re thinking three hundred thoughts at once, how are we choosing which ones to focus on at a given moment? How is that affecting our experience, our mood, confidence, sense of self?
I think of changing your thoughts like an old-fashioned radio, where you turn a knob to tune into different stations. Each station is a distinct thought, and we’re navigating among all the available stations.
So what makes us choose one over the other? And with all the available options, why am I sometimes choosing to tune into the station that predicts utter doom and failure?
With all the coaching that I do, you’d think that I would know better!
When I get into those modes, I take myself through a four-step process to get back into a constructive and productive state of mind and being.
I’ll share that process with you in detail next week.
In the meantime, I’d love to encourage you to notice when you find yourself listening to a radio station in your mind that’s not supportive or constructive. What happens? How does it make you feel? What were you doing when that station started playing?
Getting more awareness around this will help set you up for clearing through it, and switching to another station.
Which Radio Station Are You Tuned in To?
Do you believe everything you think? Do you feel skilled at “changing the station”? Leave a comment below.