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Pay attention to the power of your mind

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you”

These are the words of James Allen, a British philosophical writer and pioneer of the self-help movement.  Although he died in 1912, I believe his words are as relevant today as they were during his lifetime.

How we think has an enormous impact on how we live our lives.

A few years ago, I was listening to a radio show in my car. A lady was sharing her view about how awful things were – she was going on and on about how depressed all her customers are “you see it in their faces”. This was at a time when the world economy has collapsed and there was doom and gloom in abundance.

Around this time I had also voluntarily left my permanent pensionable job to setup my own coaching business.  Some said I was crazy, others said I was brave (euphemism for crazy).

I was really positive about my decision –  I knew it was the right one for me.

However as I listened to that woman, I noticed my throat contsricting slightly, it was an “omg what I have done?” moment  I began feeling physically uncomfortable and quickly changed the radio station. Beyonce’s voice boomed out and I felt happy and relaxed again.

So what had happened there?

The facts of my situation had not changed in those 5 minutes yet I’d gone through this huge emotional rollercoaster.  What had actually changed was how I was thinking and this in turn impacted how I felt.

We all do it.  More than each of us probably realise.

Coffey & Murray in their book ‘Emotional Intelligence (EQ) A Leadership Impreative!’ tell us that psychologist estimate we have an average of 50k thoughts per day, the majority of which are focused on the past, the future, are negative and are a repeat of what we were thinking yesterday and the day before – our very own groundhog doomsday!

The negative thoughts Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) just pop into our minds and send us off in all sorts of directions. Any of the following sound familiar?

  • I’m always forgetting things
  • I know I won’t pass the exam
  • He must think I’m useless
  • I won’t get a job like that
  • She’s much funnier than me

Which then spirals into inaction on our part: ‘Ah there’s no point in trying…. complete waste of time.’

People may think this is the way our brain is programmed to work. Wrong!  That’s a another classic example of an ANT – taking a supposed fact and leaping to a precarious conclusion.

So what can we do to counteract this?

For a start, pay attention to how you are thinking.  Yes, it’s that simple.  Ask yourself: what story am I telling myself? How is this affecting how I feel about myself? What excuses for inaction am I giving myself? And turn those ANTS into Confidence Affirming Thoughts (CATS).

It really works.  I urge you to give this a go and have some fun with it –really pay attention to your thought processes and notice how often you deal in facts as opposed to your own interpretations.

We need to audit and regulate our own inner voice and ensure we’re being kind and supportive to ourselves.  After all, If you don’t own your thoughts, they are going to own you.

 

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