Thoughtful Thursday: Episode 8
Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday’s, a weekly series where we explore our brains, one thought at a time, and learn how our thoughts either move us forward or hold us back.
Today’s topic is thought work.
Are you new to thought work? If you’re like me, you may have been practicing what you believed was thought work for a while. Do you think positive thoughts? Do you try to find the silver lining in most things? Do you beat yourself up when you’re having a hard time finding anything good about the day? Well, good news...you actually have not been practicing thought work. You’ve been practicing positive affirmations! And that is great because you can now combine that with real thought work.
What is thought work? Thought work is when you consciously decide what to think. WHAT? I already think consciously. Really? You choose your own thoughts every day? Are you sure you’re not just on autopilot? Work with me here.
How many times do you go through the day just defaulting where your mind goes? You’ll be driving along and think to yourself “my mother in law drives me crazy”. Innocent enough right? Maybe she does drive you crazy but where did that thought come from? Did you actually chose it or is it one of those million thoughts you have every day that seems to be true? Here is another one, “I don’t think I can take wearing a mask much longer”. Again, maybe it’s true but did you actually choose to think that, or is it just programmed in your brain from thinking it so many times?
I’m going to guess the latter because if you get to choose your thoughts why would you choose those? Those thoughts don’t serve you. They do nothing but make you feel bad and then that starts a whole domino effect of actions that create results that you probably don’t like.
Let’s look at the mother-in-law example (poor mothers-in-law) Your mother-in-law is coming for dinner and you think “my mother-in-law drives me crazy”. You feel annoyed about seeing her and so you think of things to do to stay away from her. You say you have work to do and you stay in your office. You spend as little time as you need to please your spouse and as a result, you continue to find evidence of how she drives you crazy which ultimately causes an argument with your spouse. Not a great result right?
OK, here is what thought work looks like. Your mother-in-law is coming for dinner and you think, “I’m learning how to like her” and you feel calm. You hang out with everyone more instead of hiding in your office, you interact with her and find that she isn’t as offensive as you remembered and she is actually quite pleasant and now the result is that you don’t mind when your spouse invites her over next time. Notice I didn’t try to conjure up a positive affirmation like “I love my mother-in-law” because you don’t yet and you would never have believed it, but allowing yourself the thought that you are “learning” to like her gives you time to work into the idea.
You don’t have to like everyone or even want to socialize with them but you should like choosing your thoughts, and thoughts that serve you. This exercise can be used on anything. When you give yourself permission to “learn” how to cope with something you free yourself up to have your own back if you have a bad day. Give yourself credit for all the good days and remind yourself that you’re learning on the rest.
Until we meet again, choose your thoughts, they are all yours.
Kim Jolicoeur is a Certified Life and Stop Overdrinking Coach helping people regain control of their lives, one thought at a time. For a free consultation go to kimjolicoeurcoaching.com.