“We become what we think about most of the time.”
I first heard this during my first training with my first coach.
Most of us don’t stop to think about how we think, especially of ourselves. We mostly run on autopilot, and if that autopilot is programmed well, life goes well. If it’s not programmed well, or gets a bit out of whack, life tends to get difficult.
Most people’s inner dialogue is really not that great, and that’s not to upset anyone or anything, it’s simply an observation based on the current general thinking status.
Try it with yourself or listen to your friends when they talk about themselves; are the words uplifting, is there a favourable attitude and outlook? Or do things like, “I’m so stupid,” “I’ll never make it,” “It’s too difficult” show up often?
If we were to really listen the mental humdrum of our thoughts every day, we might well be shocked at understanding how we truly limit ourselves. We don’t need anything or anyone else to intervene.
However, just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s true.
There is hope though, because just as we can think as strongly in the negative about ourselves, so can we think in the positive.
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
– Donald Hebb
Neuropsychologist Donald Hebb first said this in 1949 to describe how the brain’s pathways are formed and reinforced through repetition.
I won’t ask you to jump to the top of the mountain of positive thought though, especially if you’re in the valley of unfavourable thoughts. It needs to be a gradual climb because we will inevitably bump into some very strongly rooted beliefs along our path that will pull us back down. Those beliefs are the ones that spur on that negative self-talk.
So, like a constant gardener weeding out the little intruders that drain energy and resources from the plants and trees that he or she wishes to grow, we must tend to our minds in the same fashion; picking out the thoughts that make us feel bad about ourselves, and stop thinking them.
If we encounter a deeply rooted unfavourable belief, we’d be kind to ourselves asking where it may have come from; is it really ours? Was it something a family member said often, based on their way of thinking? Is it perhaps trans-generational? And the game changer – does it really serve us to go where we’d like to go in life?
These questions will help loosen the earth around that root belief and help us pull it out.
On the flip side of course, is planting a new one; a new belief about ourselves that’s in alignment with who we’re looking to become. This one will require consistency in its care after planting; repeating kind words to ourselves that act as water and sunshine for that belief to grow strong within.
After all, that’s exactly how negative beliefs installed themselves, by hearing the same words over and over again (from ourselves or from others); “You’re not good enough… Always making mistakes… You’re useless… Can’t you just do it right for once?” and so many others like them. Sometimes, they came from misinterpreting comments that were made with no bad intentions, but we took them that way and their related belief grew over time. Or a lack of information that over time developed into a belief that we were “less than”.
It can be challenging to change, especially after so many years of telling yourself the same old negative story. But isn’t your one precious life worth better than to mistreat yourself?
Once you shift our thinking, you see things differently. New people and opportunities come into your life to support that which you wish to become and create in it. You now become positively resourceful and see solutions where once you saw problems and darkness.
Things do become easier (speaking from the personal experience of some hard knocks in life and so many others who have overcome them too).
You just need to start thinking it’s possible for you too. There’s a mighty little way to start. Think of how you’d like to feel about yourself, then ask yourself, “What if I do feel _________ about myself? What if I do believe _________ about myself?” and fill in the blanks with those things.
How do you feel now simply asking yourself this way?
Now, it’s possible that some unfavourable thoughts will pop up immediately after, and THOSE are the ones you need to start weeding out and transforming so that the “What if?” contemplations can start becoming a reality.
How to start changing the way you think about yourself:
Set time aside for yourself, no phones, no distractions, no pressures. Have a pen and paper handy and start thinking about the kind of person you want to become. Then ask yourself each of the following questions, writing down the answers that come to you, without filtering anything:
- What do I currently believe about myself?
- Who would I be without those beliefs about myself?
- How do I want to feel and believe about myself?
- Who will I be with those new beliefs about myself?
Remember… When you change the way you think about yourself, the way you feel about yourself will change.
Congratulations, you’ve already started to make the change. To keep going though, you might need some additional support.
You can also download and share a PDF of these questions.
PS: If you’d like to hear a more “technical” explanation of how all of this works in the brain, check out this video.