What Are You Thinking?
It is said that the world you see, is what you think you see. What you think is eventually, what you will become. It took me few years of observing and understanding my self to realise the power of this sentence. Let me explain.
Last year, I made a decision to jump out from a secure comfortable job into the world of uncertainty. This decision though was not an impromptu one. I am a dreamer and had always imagined to do much more with my life. However my reality was not matching upto the life I wanted to lead and for the longest time, I didn't think I can even achieve it. It took a while to realise, I was creating a roadblock for myself.
It all changed when I heard Tony Robbins talk about controlling what you put in your mind. I wondered how I can get out of my own way. The answers though came in a little late when I was preparing my talk on Design Thinking. It's amazing how methodologies and approaches you use in your work, can apply to your personal life as well. Applying it to my current situation, I decided to try to approach my issue empathetically. I decided to change what I put in my head. And here’s what I did deliberately for the next few months-
So much has been said about them. Telling yourself deliberately on things you want to do is very powerful. I created these four sentences that I would tell myself every morning.
You deserve way more than what you have right now. You are going to change your life and take decisions that will take you higher. You are the sunshine who will light up many lives and it is your destiny. Stay awesome and get out of your way!
It worked amazingly for me. I quit in less than 6 months and am so happy with that decision.
I have hyperactive mood swings and I blame it all on my hormones. ;) Journaling helped me keep track of the highs and lows of my mood. Once I was aware of how it works, I was able to hold off decisions, discussions and even communication to the point when my mood was high and energetic. I became aware of my trigger points and how to calm them.
For example - I am not the best person to speak to when I am “Hangry” (Angry when hungry). I start to generate negative energy and even the slightest remark say from hubby, will activate my ‘reptilian brain’ and it appears as an existential threat.
The point I’m trying to make is when you start to notice such aspects about self, you are in a better position to handle them. And all this bears a direct impact on your thoughts. Journaling is an amazing tool to check for all your thoughts.
Those who meditate will easily relate to what I’m about to say. As you begin to meditate, you will realise that your brain goes into overdrive. You think of things that you usually don’t think when you want to think :) isn’t it?
When this happens instead of fighting them away, I decided to write them down. The list of thoughts going on in my head before I began meditating and compare them to those that appear during meditation. I called this list as a brain dump and had a lot of fun comparing. As I progressed in my journey, I tricked my brain to think less. I’ve not reached my destination yet, but I know I’m progressing.
Hack Into Your Brain
This, by far is the most powerful tool I’ve ever used. Hacking into your brain simply means being aware of your thoughts and tweaking them to suit your requirement.
For example - All of us know we need to exercise regularly and eat good food to stay healthy. Yet, when it’s time for some action, most of us have trouble doing it. In my case, I would come up with all possible excuses.
Here’s a typical dialogue that would go in my head-
Angel A : You must workout today, it's a glorious morning!
Devil A : Yes, but I didn’t get enough sleep last night. So I need my 7 hours so I can workout better. Will definitely do it tomorrow. Better I will start doing it from Monday.
Angel A : But you said that yesterday. You must get out of bed right now!
Devil A : Nooo.. I’ve worked so much last month, was careful with my diet but I haven’t lost a single kilo. What’s the point anyway? My knee hurts so I can’t walk, run or jog. If I rest well, at least I will be in a good mood.
We all know who won that argument :)
If I apply neuroscience to my situation, my brain was protecting me from possible disappointment. It took me a while to realise that if I can change this dialogue and get into action before my overprotective brain takes over me… I can get to the class, I can work out and feel way better than I will if I stayed home and skipped my workout.
This is a simple hack. Yet it requires deliberate action every single day. I’m happy to say that today I don’t have this dialogue anymore. It became a habit. Which gets me to my last point -
All the above tools will work only if done consistently. So how do you get them done? By deliberately making them your habit. You can do that by following the simple 3 step pattern for a 21-day period-
Reminder - set a cue or trigger that will remind you to start a behaviour. For example an alarm to write your journal at a specific time everyday
Routine - the action you take. This is the habit you’re trying to set. For example, opening your journal book or a phone app to start writing.
Reward - focusing on the benefit you gain from that behaviour. If the reward you set is positive then you are automatically poised in repeating the action the next time your reminder alert is received.
Eventually this repetition will form a habit.
To summarise; if there is one thing that modern science, psychology and spirituality support unanimously, is that your thoughts shape your life. Our mind is always thinking; repeating in layered patterns. This could be a growth process if you change your thinking and correspondingly change your behaviour and your world. It is the little things that you do every day that count.
So, what are you thinking today?