Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life
Have you ever had a bad day? You know the kind of day I am talking about.
You wake up in the morning with a slight kink in your neck. When you go to make a pot of coffee, you realize your cream has turned so you have to settle for black. You hop in your car and head to work, but get stuck behind the Amtrak train that seems to take a lifetime to pass. At work, your boss is in a grumpy mood and doesn’t treat you very kindly. On your way home, a car wreck on the highway delays your arrival by 20 minutes.
Perhaps your day had similar misfortunes. These days happen, to everyone. Life doesn’t always throw things at you in your favor, but the truth of it all is that some things are completely out of your control. In fact, most things that happen to you are out of your control. Do you know what you can control? Your thoughts, your emotions, and your (re)actions.
This is not an easy task, and I am one of the most fiery sasses I know. However, it is important for us to really let it sink in that we cannot control all factors of our lives. We only have control over ourselves. Not your boss, not the traffic, not your in-laws, not the weather, nobody and nothing but yourself. Period.
So what do you do when your morning starts out less than ideal? What do you think about? How does the conversation in your head sound?
A good friend and my Leadership Coach, Caryn Gillen, introduced me to a model that I believe in and apply to my life. She sent me a digital copy of Master Coach Brooke Castillo’s book, Self Coaching 101: Use Your Mind - Don’t Let it Use You from which this model has been adopted. We all have CIRCUMSTANCES in our lives that can trigger THOUGHTS. Your thoughts create a FEELING. That feeling leads to an ACTION (or sometimes inaction). Your actions create RESULTS. Those results can be amazing, and they can be crap. To me, the fact of the matter is that the results you desire in life all depend on the thoughts you have regarding your current circumstances. Simple as that!
So here is the thing I want you to digest, friends. When you take control of your thoughts, you take control of your life. If you are upset about a circumstance out of your control, there is a way for you to shift your focus and your thoughts to change your emotional reaction to the situation at hand. Maybe instead of anger, you change your thought slightly making you feel compassion. Perhaps instead of guilt, you shift your thoughts just barely to make you feel pride. I believe making a minor adjustment to a thought can change everything. Do you think you’ve got it in you to make a minor change in how you think?
I know this can be very challenging; it takes some impressive self-awareness. If you are having a hard time breaking it down, I’d like to offer you an exercise my friend Caryn coached me through. Each part of the model is broken down, written out, and completed by you. Keep in mind, a circumstance is something you don’t have any control over. For example, “my wife is upset” or “my child has disabilities” or “the schools have a late start today”. The results, on the other hand, you have direct control over. When you do a “thought download,” as Caryn calls them, you may not have a circumstance to write down at first. You may start with something you are feeling, or perhaps an action that you took, but you have to do the work to trace back to the thoughts you were having.
My wife is upset.
I shouldn’t have mentioned to my wife that I didn’t enjoy her cooking tonight.
Guilt and regret.
Lack of connection and feeling withdrawn.
An unpleasant and awkward evening.
As you go through this exercise, you can start to see patterns. Sometimes the results you get is another thought, be it positive or negative. This sets in course another feeling, more action, and another result. Before you know it, you could have a whole system of thoughts and feelings. Empowering or limiting beliefs that you may not have ever been aware of before.
If you take the time to break the model down and use it as a tool, you can plug in a minuscule change into the original thought. The key here is that you must believe the new thought. Work through the remainder of the model to see how the results in your life might change. If you don’t use this model, it’s all good. I’d like to offer you another tool I keep in my utility belt. I use it every time I recognize I am stuck in a negative thought pattern. I ask myself one simple question:
What am I grateful for in this moment? For example: Someone to prepare a meal for me. Having food and a wife. Enjoying quality time together over a home cooked meal.
That’s it. I completely shift my focus to things that make me feel gratitude. I stimulate myself to think about what I appreciate. I totally overhaul my thoughts with what I know will make me feel good. It truly helps me to change my state, and change my day.
If you’re looking for help, we would be more than happy to set up a consultation with you. We offer coaching to expand on this model, your business, and many other things. You can reach out to us here.
I’d love to hear from you, now. Do you have a pattern breaking tool you use to change your state of mind? How have you been able to change your day from bad to good? Please share your ideas, your tools, or your comments below. Let’s have a conversation!