Thoughts, they whir around in our heads every single moment, both the logical and the frankly crazy ones, positive and negative. It sometimes feels like there is an annoying saboteur, popping up at inopportune moments creating fear, self-criticism, doubt and worry. Especially if we decide to do something different or new.
We are all a product of our life experiences from the moment we are born our brain is assimilating knowledge and information which it stores and uses with the aim to protect us from harm. Thousands of years ago this may well have saved our lives, as humans lived a hunter, gatherer existence but in our modern lives it can inhibit our progress.
Thoughts Shape Our Reality
We all live in our own very personal version of the world, our ways of thinking and responses are skewed dependant on how we have experienced our life. We lay down thought patterns in our brain, these ‘neural pathways’ strengthen each time we think a thought and soon we don’t question the thought, it becomes a belief. Beliefs are very deeply embedded and can be really helpful or incredibly self-destructive.
So, for example as a kid I was overweight and under confident. I have an everlasting memory of being the last one to be picked by the other kids for games of hockey or netball, and the huge feeling of relief if one of my friends was made team captain, as I knew I wouldn’t be last on the list for a change. I developed a belief that I was useless at sports, and consequently I hated PE, it was my most hated lesson. I’m sure I’m not alone here! Then a couple of years later I was persuaded (being almost 6ft tall is very useful in netball) to join a ladies netball team and gradually with lots of support and encouragement I began to play more confidently and really enjoyed playing.
One of my jobs as a coach is the help my clients shift their thinking a little, look at things from a different angle. We get so used to thinking from a certain perspective that we don’t appreciate we are blocking out the alternatives. So often I hear my coachee saying, ‘oh, I hadn’t thought of it like that!’
Thoughts Can Prevent Us Making Progress
So, our thoughts are amazingly powerful, but this can produce both positive and negative outcomes. They can keep us stuck in a holding pattern of thinking for months, years or even a lifetime. That’s why it’s good to move to a different window and change the view.
Everything begins with a thought but it’s what you do with that thought that counts. If you allow your existing beliefs to crush your ideas as stupid or silly; or tell yourself, you could never achieve this or that you are not going to get anywhere.
Henry Ford is famous for the phrase ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right’ springs to mind. I use this in my Goal Mapping workshops and explain there is now scientific proof that this is true. So next time you have a thought, remember it’s a thought, it’s what you do with it that counts. If it’s negative and self-critical dismiss it, it’s just a thought, don’t fuel the fire but if it’s positive and inspiring, feed the flames of enthusiasm and self-belief, that’s the way that change happens.
I have been trying to clear a backlog of emails and free up virtual and mental space this week and came across an email from Dr Rupy Aujla (who shares the greatest healthy recipes!) pointing to one of his podcasts, it was back in March so you can tell how big my backlog was! The title was ‘Solving Happiness with Mo Gawdatt’ and I finally got around to listening last night. It’s such an inspiring conversation from someone who strived to gain everything materially only to find he was at his most discontented and unhappiest and then lost his son, he died during a routine operation. Hear how he found the strength to create positivity and happiness for himself and others.