We don’t generally think about “shopping for thoughts” but it’s an option that is available to us and one that more of us would benefit from if we tried it on a consistent basis. Shopping for thoughts is a lot like shopping for clothes. Some things look great on the hanger but when you try it on it just doesn’t feel quite right. Or other times it feels too tight and stifling but then every now and then you find something that just fits perfectly and it becomes your new go to. It’s similar with thought shopping. You’ve got to try on a LOT of new thoughts until you find one that works for you, one that fits just right, and that will become your new go to thought.
We know we can change our thoughts if our current thought isn’t working for us. So we need to figuratively go shopping and “try on” new thoughts.
Some thoughts won’t fit. They’ll sound good in theory but when you try it on your brain rejects it, it doesn’t believe it. So you have to try on something else that WILL fit.
For example, while we’re speaking of trying things on – We can tell ourselves that we don’t like our body shape. We can shame and ridicule and chastise but we realize this isn’t good for us. We want to change the way we’re talking to ourselves so we try to find new thoughts that we can believe instead. The thought, “I’m so beautiful” looks really good on the hanger. Internally you think that you’d like that thought so you try it on only to find that your mind isn’t really ready for that one…YET.
When you put it on and tell yourself, I’m so beautiful your brain quickly rips that thought off and puts back on the old thoughts of pointing out any flaws it perceives.
Some people think it ends there. They just give up and think that it’s hopeless and that they just have to deal with that lot in life. But I want to tell you there are COUNTLESS other thoughts to try on. Don’t give up just because the FIRST thought you tried on didn’t fit. Grab another one, try it on, see how it fits on you.
Instead of going from one extreme to the other (I’m so ugly to I’m so beautiful) try on something a little more neutral. Try on thoughts like, I’m a human being. My body functions and I can do what I need to do. Everyone’s body is unique. These thoughts are more believable because they’re true.
These thoughts are the yoga pants of thoughts. They fit everyone and they feel good on too. But you really can’t wear yoga pants your whole life and you don’t want to either. You eventually want to work up to other clothes so little by little you try on more thoughts and build day by day off of these true, comfortable, neutral thoughts until you can get to that ball gown of a thought, “I am so beautiful” and find that it really does fit and it feels good on.
Some thoughts just like some clothes are just too expensive. Some thoughts are also costly because they’ll end up requiring a lot of energy and time to keep. It’s in these moments that you have to ask yourself, “Is there an upside to keeping this thought?” Or “Is this thought really serving me?”
Let me give you an example, Jennifer wasn’t invited to a get together with some of the other moms in her area. She heard about it later and would have really liked to have gone. So now she’s bombarded with a lot of thoughts:
Why didn’t they invite me?
They must not like me. If they did, they would have called me.
A whole group got together and not one of them even thought about me.
They must think I’m lame or not as cool as those other moms.
I am lame.
What’s wrong with me?
I’m not good enough.
These thoughts aren’t going to feel good on and she has a choice to make, she can choose to keep these and feel terrible or she can go to another store and try on a different style of thoughts. But some of these thoughts have a heftier price than others. Some thoughts linger…for a long time…they’re hard to get rid of and they are very costly – “I’m not good enough” and “something must be wrong with me” are especially pricy.
Thoughts like those will cost you a LOT of energy. It’ll cost you a LOT of time as you experience excess “chatter” in your mind as your brain goes to work finding all kinds of “evidence” to prove that thought true (you’re not good enough because remember that time when you _________________ or this time when _________________?).
There isn’t an upside to these thoughts. They never feel good on but for whatever reason we hang on to them sometimes and there’s no reason to. There’s so many other thoughts to try on. It’s helpful to know that you don’t have to keep it if you don’t want to but before you chuck it to the floor it might be good to inquire WHY this thought is there and what you’re making that thought mean. Find out why it’s not a good fit.
If you’re thinking something like, “I’m just not good enough.” You don’t want to just throw it aside or suppress it. You may want to question it first so you can gain awareness and understanding as to why it popped in your head in the first place. Question it, challenge it, then decide it’s just too pricy a thought to keep and it doesn’t fit or feel good on anyway.
Thoughts will always come and go but you get decide what STAYS and what doesn’t. I like this thought from Byron Katie, “You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.” Thoughts will pop into your head just as seagulls will fly over your head but you have agency and can decide what takes up residence in your mind. You get to decide what you choose to believe and what thoughts you’ll “wear” that day.
Shopping can be fun but you have to try on a lot of things to find what fits for you. The same is true with thought shopping. Don’t stop trying thoughts on after the first two and think that’s just what you’re stuck with. Try on LOTS and LOTS of thoughts until you find ones that are fitting and worthy of your time and energy, thoughts that will propel you forward and not keep you cowering in the dressing room or stuck at home.
Try on this thought: Thought shopping can be fun. I’m going to try on many thoughts and find one that is the perfect fit for me. I don’t have to keep any thoughts I don’t want to or that aren’t a good fit for me.
Have fun! Go shopping and let me know how your thought retail experience goes for you!
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