Defined By Our Thinking
“Man’s greatness lies in his power of thought.” – Blaise Pascal
Thoughts really do become things. It was advice I’ve heard over the years but never really paid much attention to it until recently.
A good friend of mine, a fellow coach, pointed out to me that my thinking needed to change. I was sharing some frustration about things I was dealing with in my business; mainly growth opportunities and trying to figure out how to scale some aspects of what I do. I was clearly stuck and the more I explained the more she could see that something needed to change.
She let me patter on for a good ten minutes and then she said, “Stop! If you could hear what you are saying from my perspective I think you’d be shocked at just how negative you are coming across right now. I think your real problem is how you are formulating your thoughts around these areas that frustrate you.”
I sat there momentarily stunned at how right she was. As my stream of consciousness had poured forth, the words I had been using were in fact quite negative. Words like I can’t, if only, someday, when the timing is right and so on. There was so much self-doubt in the words I was using that I literally had not recognized until she pointed it out to me. Clearly that was an issue in and of itself.
The problem, she pointed out, were the words I was choosing to use to describe my frustration. She explained how they were verbal representations of the thoughts I was allowing to formulate in my mind. Those thoughts were in essence becoming things and that, in her opinion, might be a bigger problem to recognize and solve. Even more so than then areas that were the source of my frustration.
She suggested giving some serious consideration to reevaluating the thoughts I allowed to formulate around my frustration. For example, rather than think about not having enough time to write (a major frustration for me these days as I try and work on another book) I should change my thinking about this perceived limitation entirely. Her advice as to change those negative thoughts from an area of lack (time to write) into how a more positive one, one that focused on how blessed I am to be so busy (more speaking, coaching and consulting opportunities than I’ve ever had).
It was a perspective that I wasn’t allowing myself to even consider until she pointed it out. More to the point, I wasn’t looking at the positive upside at all.
She went on to say that even though I may not have all the time I’d like to have in order to write if I were really committed to writing, I could find some small windows of time if I were willing to look hard enough. Clearly I just needed to look harder. Maybe a little less time in front of the television at night for example. Maybe carrying my journal or notebook with me to jot a few thoughts down in between meetings. All good suggestions which I’ve started doing and it has worked very well. I actually find myself relishing these little stolen moments and feel rather accomplished with these little bursts of writing opportunities.
Instead of letting my frustration and my thoughts get the better of me, I could simply give thanks for the work I have right now and commit to finding some other ways to accomplish what I really want/need to accomplish.
That’s just one example of many we talked through but I think you get the idea. For me, the frustrations were being allowed to control my thoughts and ultimately my words which were clearly being manifested into inaction. It’s like the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars, the more you’re tempted to be called over to it, the easier it is to go to it and ultimately stay in it. We really have to protect our ways of thinking as thoughts become things. Things become our reality.
Hmm…wonder if that’s why there’s so much negativity in the world?
Everything we do in life is defined by our thinking. So how much time are we dedicated to evaluating our own ways of thinking? Since that insightful conversation, I’ve actually caught myself several times starting to go to the dark side and stopping myself dead in my thought tracks. Rather than allowing the negative thinking to take over, I simply stop, take a deep breath and give some serious consideration to some other ways of looking at things. I literally coach and encourage myself to go with the more positive alternative, and guess it works. This little mental reset exercise really works.
Believe it or not some of the key areas of frustration I had been experiencing have disappeared entirely. In their place, I’ve found positive momentum, more creative solutions and even some fresh new ideas which never would have found their place to take hold and thrive had I not been willing to change my thoughts.
You can either define your thinking or let your thinking define you. You have a choice.
But there’s really only one good choice isn’t there?