Word count: 1523 words. Reading time: 7-9 minutes
In post one on self-talk I shared how thoughts become things. The thoughts that we hold consistently end up becoming the habits we form, which shape our lives. This post is designed to show you how you can make this law work for you.
If you want specific outcomes to happen for you then you are going to have to put in the work. Putting in the work is great, but if you don’t know the rules of the game then the hard work that you are putting in won’t produce the desired outcomes. By learning and applying the laws of the universe you can make them work in your favor and find that the effort you’ve put in will now be channeled into the right direction and you will start seeing those outcomes that you want.
One thing to keep in mind about these types of laws is that they are amoral, meaning that they are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The laws exist and they work no matter what the input is. Think of the law of gravity: it works whether someone is jumping off of a bridge to end their life or if they are BASE jumping to get an adrenalin rush. This law doesn’t care whether the thoughts you are thinking will guide you toward your goal or away from it. It simply takes the thoughts it is given and yields the outcomes.
Fortunately, we can be strategic and choose to put the type of thoughts that we want into our minds that are going to help us. Here are four actions to take to begin controlling your thoughts.
Have a vision for what you want and write it down
What’s the first thing you do when you play a board game for the first time? You read the rules. The rules tell you how to play they game, what you can and cannot do. What else do the rules tell you? They tell you how to win the game. They tell you that when something is achieved by one player or team that the game is over. Imagine playing a game without knowing how it was supposed to end. That would feel really lousy to know you’ve invested your time and energy employing a completely ineffective strategy.
This is why you must have a vision for what you want the result to be. A vision is defined as ‘a mental image of what the future will or could be like.’ Determining your vision is up to you. It is a topic deserving of it’s own post. Speaking broadly, your vision should naturally align with your personality, your passions, and activities that you enjoy. My vision is to touch, move, and inspire people to take action and create their ideal life. This fits with my love of people, my leadership skills, and my communication and education skills.
Ultimately your vision is up to you, but you may find it useful as you are crafting it to solicit the opinions of those you are close to and know you well. I have found that some third party opinions can be helpful in clarifying things you are passionate about from things you think you are passionate about. Your vision will enable you to know the game you should be playing and act accordingly.
“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.” – Larry Winget
Be aware of your thoughts and emotions
Observe your thoughts. Observe means to notice, not to psycho-analyze your thoughts. Have awareness about the thoughts that you are thinking. Listen to your self-talk and determine if it is congruent with your vision and supports you, or if it is incongruent and must be replaced. This will take some practice. I advise my coaching clients that awareness training isn’t about judging the thoughts you observe. Awareness training is simply listening to your body, emotions, and thoughts and being aware of what is going on.
Refrain from judging the thoughts you think. Judgement creates emotions that will interfere with the process. Awareness training is three steps: identify the thought, determine whether it serves you, if it does keep it. If it does not, replace it. That’s it.
When I was starting out working on my awareness I would randomly record conversations and phone calls and play them back. Doing that brought me crystal clear evidence of exactly what I was thinking. This is an effective way to learn what your thoughts are.
Don’t believe everything you think
Just because you think something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Your thoughts come filtered through your perceptions. They are limited by your experience, your knowledge, your perspectives, and countless other reasons. The thoughts you think have such a small fraction of the picture that all of them cannot possibly be true.
Think about all of those times where you thought something based on your perception of another person’s body language or words and what you thought turned out to be inaccurate once you asked them what they meant or what they were thinking. You must realize how little you truly know and understand that your thoughts are not all factual.
Take a moment to analyze the thought and ask yourself: “If I accept this thought as true will it move me closer or further from my vision?” Thoughts come from one of two emotions: love and fear. A thought that serves you and your vision is from love. A thought that diminishes you, your ability or in any way detracts from your vision is from fear. By rejecting the fear thoughts and moving towards the thoughts coming from love you will move towards your vision.
Have a plan for handling fear-based thoughts
When a fear-based thought comes to you and goes against your vision you may feel a change in your body. Your body posture can shift. Your shoulders may collapse, or you may hang your head. You may feel your energy level drop and your focus drift dramatically. Your first thought when noticing these things occurring should be excitement! The very fact that they were noticed means you are practicing awareness. This is exciting. It shows that you know it is time to change your thoughts.
In order to get your energy and focus back I have a great method that you need to have in your tool kit. I call it ‘interdicting fear thoughts’. Interdict means ‘an authoritative prohibition’ and I love that word here. You are using your authority to prohibit fear-based thoughts. You are telling yourself what you are going to allow and what you are not going to allow. To interdict a fear-based thought is much more powerful than ignoring it or simply thinking about something else. A proper interdiction will not only remove the fear-based thought from your mind, not only will it restore your energy level and focus, but it will energize you and make you feel good about yourself.
To interdict a fear-based thought you must do the following: Say something aloud to stop the thought. I like to say “Cancel! Cancel! Cancel!” as this interrupts the thought. Replace it with it’s opposite such as “I got this.” (a personal favorite) “I can do this” or “I like myself” and say it out loud with passion and belief.
This tactic works best when combined with energy and emotion. It works so well because you are rejecting the fear-based thought and replacing it with a stronger love-based thought which supports your vision. Doing this exercise repeatedly has a compounding effect. By being aware of your thoughts and forcefully interdicting them with emotion you will begin seeing positive results. By seeing positive results you will become more aware of your fear-based thoughts and find yourself interdicting them more often and getting even better results.
Instill love-based thoughts. Use affirmations to instill the thoughts you want to have. Say affirmations of what you envision for yourself. Any statement beginning with “I am” or “I’m” is telling your sub-conscious mind how you see yourself. The more you tell your subconscious mind how you see yourself, and the more emotion you put behind your words, the more you will begin acting that way. If you want to be fit and healthy, say affirmations that attest to your healthy and fit lifestyle. Say things like “I love to exercise” or “I love eating healthy natural foods”
These four steps are far from comprehensive. These four steps are a great place to start as you begin a journey to take control of your thoughts. Here they are in summary format once more.
- Have a written vision. You must know the end game before you start playing the game.
- Be aware. Observe your thoughts and emotions. Don’t judge your thoughts.
- Don’t’ believe everything you think. Your thoughts are based off of a tiny fraction of the complete picture.
- Have a plan. Become equipped and practice the skills to stop fear-based thoughts.