Episode 115: Stop Indulging in Ugly Thinking
Hello my friends! How are you all? I’m in a little bit of heaven right now. It’s full on spring – finally and I’m in Central California which means everything is in full bloom and all my bulbs have sprouted and just look gorgeous. And my favorite plant, Jasmin is blooming like crazy – that is by far my favorite smell. I wish it could bloom all year long but I’ll take what I can get of it so I’ve got my windows open so it’s fragrance can fill my office. And apologies for those that hate spring because of sessional allergies, my heart goes out to you!
Okay, let’s dive in today. We are talking about ugly thoughts and our human habit and tendency to indulge in them and worse believe them. We all have a inner narrative happening constantly and I’ve talked about this in the past but just thinking and becoming more aware of your, like, what I call your mental playlist. If you took the top 25 most played thoughts, most thought thoughts – what would those be? And they’re not all going to be negative. We have a good inner narrative too – it’ll be a mix of both but we’re not going to focus on the positive thoughts today because you don’t need help with those. We want to keep those. What we don’t want are the negative, ugly, feel bad thoughts that come up frequently, that don’t serve us, they’re not productive for us, they don’t feel good, and yet, we tend to believe them and it can throw you for a loop and put you in a negative spin. It’s all around not fun, not productive and you know what? The good news is is that there’s a way through, there’s a way up, there’s a way out.
But before we get to the good stuff, the HOW as I like to call it I really want to emphasize our human patterns and urges when these thoughts come up for us. This is important because it IS a pattern and the more you are aware of these patterns it won’t come as such a shock to you when they present themselves – it’ll be more like, “Yeah, I knew you were coming – there you are. Nothing has gone wrong” and you get to keep your cool and your confidence – unlike what most of you are doing now which is when the ugly thought comes up you dive right on it with it. It’s like, “Yeah, you do suck and let me tell you why! And you know what else? You’re fat and ugly and no one likes you” Right? I mean your inner narrative might be slightly different because we all have our own individual, catered stories for us but they’re there nevertheless.
And that’s what I’m talking about when I say, “indulge” in these thoughts – or another way to look at it is to entertain these thoughts. We’re giving them energy. We’re running that narrative. We’re picturing future scenarios and what this all means for us and listen, that’s a terrible thing to do especially because the initial thought is just so painful! So like, why would we want to entertain that? It’s like having that one person over that you just don’t prefer. Like this person that requires a lot of extra thought work just to be around and you know it doesn’t feel good, you know you always leave feeling awful, you know that it’s not going to be fun and yet, you hang out with them on a daily basis like, as part of your inner friend group almost.
Anyone would tell you to run away. You don’t have time for that. You don’t need that or want that in your life and I think if it were a person we’d all agree. That would make sense to us but because it’s a thought- or a slew of thoughts it’s easier to entertain, to spend time with, to agree with and build upon even though you’re building a narrative that ultimately tears you down and leaves you feeling very insecure and drained.
So let me throw this out there – you don’t have to entertain those thoughts. Just because the thought is there, just because the thought presents itself doesn’t mean you have to indulge in it. It doesn’t mean you have to entertain it. It doesn’t mean you have to give it your time and energy.
I’ve said this before but for me that was a really hard concept when I was first introduced to life coaching. I’d see or read or hear things like, “let it go” and was all way before Elsa rocked that scene. But I’d hear let it go and I’d think, but how? That sounds nice in theory but how you do run away from the thoughts in your head? That concept was so foreign to me I really thought that only some people had that superpower and I clearly didn’t.
So I’m excited to share these tools and the solution with you today because it’s not as hard as my brain made it out to be and you can – all of you – learn to let those thoughts go. You don’t have to indulge in, give energy to, or entertain those ugly thoughts anymore.
You have agency. You have the ability to choose one thought over the other and knowing that you are the catalyst in your life – you can build, bolster your confidence that you can overcome ugly thoughts. You don’t have to run away from your mind. You just need to learn how to expend your mental energy in a way that serves you, that works for you instead of against you.
So what you want to know is that you are not your thoughts. I love this visual from Eckhart Tolle who taught that there are fish in the ocean and yet they’ve been the ocean their whole lives so that can’t differentiate that they are apart from the ocean. They don’t know or see that there’s is the ocean and then there is themselves they only ever see the combination.
And this is kind of like us and our thoughts. We’ve been swimming in our thoughts for so long that we can’t differentiate that there’s us, our higher brain/prefrontal cortex that has the ability to utilize choice and agency and then there’s the default/primitive/natural man brain that can only ever operate from the past, from old/learned programming.
So what happens is that these default thoughts that you more than likely picked up on in your early childhood/teen years keep coming back up and because you don’t see that you are the fish and the thoughts the ocean we can’t then separate ourselves from that. But here’s the beautiful, beautiful truth with this – Cheryl Sandberg said, “You can’t change what you’re not aware of and once you’re aware you can’t help but change”
So now knowing there is a choice. There is a space. I am not my thoughts – well now, you have options.
That’s actually a really good thought to start practicing at first. If you’re new to this work then you might want to start with that, “I am not my thoughts”. Really hit home that I don’t have to believe that thought if I don’t want to.
Another thing to remember is just because the thought is there doesn’t mean it’s yours. We have some researches say that we have roughly around 60,000-90,000 thoughts a day and we’re not consciously choosing all of those thoughts. Some are default, some are just weird ideas, and I believe that some are being offered to us by the adversary – if you’re religious.
If you picture yourself standing next to a door and a note gets passed under the door and you bend down and pick it up – is that note yours? Did you create that? Did you consciously create the note? Of course not but now what happens next is so important because this is where your agency comes into place. You can read the note and throw it away or you can read the note and claim it and tack it to your bulletin board. At that point that you agreed with it, had a conscious thought about it, claimed it, that’s when it becomes your thought. But up until that point, it’s just a thought.
We don’t have to make it mean anything about us at that point. So here’s the next step then – if it’s not my thought and it’s just A thought then where does that go in the model? And if you’re unfamiliar with the model go back to my earlier episodes and listen to the episode 6 called: Set Her Free – and that’s exactly what we’re going to do here. So if that thought isn’t yours where does it go in the model?
We could put that thought in the C line – and this is a little bit of advanced coaching here – because we generally only put in facts, provable facts that everyone would agree on in the C line – our circumstance but here, if you are not consciously thinking, choosing, creating that thought then you’ll want to put it in the C line and the C line is such a beautiful place because in the C line it becomes neutral. It doesn’t mean anything in the C line. The C line is anything you can’t control and if it’s a thought that you didn’t consciously bring up then it goes in the C line. Now the part is simple but profoundly powerful because the next thing is what do you think about that C?
This is where your power and agency lies. What do you want to do with that thought? And I tell you what I’ve gotten really good at not entertaining or indulging in thoughts that don’t serve me, that aren’t productive for me and all of that magic happens right here. What do I think about that C?
It’s also telling because if you’re indulging in it then that means that a part of you believes it and that’s where your next work is to be done. In that space you can question them and root out that limited thinking but if you never put it in a model then you’ll always keep assuming the role of being a victim to it.
When you think something like, “They’re not going to like me” or “they don’t like me” and you put that in the C line – then you get to ask yourself, what do I think about that? You know and you either agree with it or you’re like, “No, that’s ridiculous” but then notice how that thought makes you feel.
If you’re really thinking that “yeah, you’re right, they don’t like me” then notice how that thought feels to you? What are you creating by thinking that thought?
And these thoughts are really the problem makers because that thought is going to create a chain reaction to your results and what kind of experience you have and create for yourself. I always say what you choose to believe becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because let’s look at this start of a model for an example:
C: My brain had the thought, they don’t like me
T: That’s right, they don’t like me. I’ve never been liked. People don’t usually like me. I’m not likeable.
F: Rejected or maybe shame
A: We start that spiral of negative thinking – bringing up all the times when others have acted the same, all the times you felt rejected – the action is that you look for evidence to prove the thought true – indulging, right?
R: and the result is that I’m not even liking me at this point because I’m neck deep in all the perceived reasons that they don’t like me and no one is looking for or entertaining what I really do want and that’s connection, that’s friendship, that’s confidence.
So it’s really important to know how to do a model and to recognize what goes where and most importantly what you think about it. What are you going to make that thought mean about you?
And the beauty of it all is is that when you see it in a model format it’s easier to gain leverage over it because you’re like, I don’t want those results. I don’t want to feel that way. I have the power to choose for me. I get to decide is this a thought that I want to keep? Is this a thought I want to claim and put on my wall? And now seeing the trajectory of that thought – do I like the results? Is this is the path I want to be on and if not, okay, what now? What’s next?
And I think this is sometimes where we might get stuck because we don’t like it. We don’t want to believe it but the thought is persistent and won’t seem to go away and this is really important to talk about because when we say things like, ‘let it go’ we assume that the thought is like a balloon and just goes up and up until it’s not visible anymore but when it comes to thoughts they’er still part of your primitive programming which means they’re still come up from time to time. You will feel the urge to think it and that’s where your real work begins. You have to decide, to commit that just because the thought presents itself doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
There’s so much power in that. Just knowing that.
Just because someone offers you a plate of garbage doesn’t mean you have to accept it. They can continue to offer you garbage everyday and every day you can continue to say, no thank you. Not interested in that. That’s a hard pass for me.
And if it’s a thought that you’ve engaged in before you’ll feel a tug or an urge to answer it. To engage with it, to run that program but you know what? You are really good at processing urges- even if you don’t think you are, you are.
You know it can be like those times when you really really crave something and that urge is strong but you’re not a place to answer that or satisfy that. It’s like on Fast Sunday when you fast for two or more meals once a month we feel the urge to eat something. You might feel the urge to want to rummage through your kitchen or you’re at church and your stomach is putting up a really good argument for needing/wanting sustenance and you just talk to it. You just say, No, not now. And you sit with the discomfort for the time being and you know what? After a little while, the urge goes away. It’s not as incessant or loud anymore. The urge just leaves and that’s how you let those ugly thoughts go.
I love that line in the Princess and the Frog where Charlotte says, “when a woman says later, what she really means is not ever!” And listen here’s a tip: I heard this ages ago and I kind of love the idea of it. Buy yourself a black book – just a notebook and write down the negative black thoughts when they come to you and keep the black thoughts in the black book and this is why you might want to do that – these thoughts can seem slippery. They can seem like it’s truth and when you start just writing them down – nothing else with it – just the thought – you acknowledge it and then you can start being more aware of it – and then you can gain leverage over it.
It’s one of those weird things like, I just saw that person or we just did that – and really it was like 3 months ago – or the opposite when you’re like, I never think that – but really it was just two days ago. So the purpose of the book is just for information. For you to learn something new about you. For you to see and then treat these thoughts with a lighter nature than going right in and believing them. I mean we know how that feels -that’s just awful so instead you can get to a point where you’re like, I know myself enough that this is what my brain likes to offer me.
I see these pop up in my mind – especially at times when there’s several things going on at once – you’re super busy, extra tired, more deadlines, etc and then these sneaky ugly thoughts want to pop up and because I’m so used to being aware of my thinking I can anticipate and be entertained by them. It’s not a shocker. I’m not expending extra energy with them. It’s just simple, like, “there you are. I knew you were coming and the answer is still no.”
Maybe take that as another option to start practicing. “I see you. I knew you were coming and it’s a no for me” and if the thought is persistent then process it like it’s an urge – the discomfort can be there momentarily but you don’t have to give in, indulge in, entertain or believe in those thoughts.
There is SO MUCH freedom in this practice. You are the catalyst. It is you that makes the weather for your life. You creates the storms or the sunshine depending on what you choose to think and believe. What narrative you choose to run with.
This is power of the best kind my friends! Okay, lots to practice – good stuff all around. It’s also that time again my friends. The doors are now open to the membership – one week only! And this month we’re talking all about creative confidence and I love this topic because creativity is what expands your options. When you feel stuck or tired or unable to progress – creativity is what you want and I’m not talking about art or music even though I love those – I’m talking about creativity in the sense that you know how to look and find possibilities and that’s problem-solving gold. So come join us. It’s an amazing space! And I hope to see you in there!