So I just wanted to take a second and say THANK YOU to everyone who takes the time to read these blogs. I really do enjoy writing them and even though this is only my fourth one I’ve already received quite a few emails, direct messages and comments from you guys letting me know how much you’re connecting with what I’m putting out there and how it’s already helping you in some way. I can’t even tell you how happy that makes me! Thank you so much for being so open and for reaching out. Keep it up! I love it!
I know many of you have been looking forward to this post about THOUGHT WORK and I truly hope you get out of it what you need! Here we go!
So, let’s start with a quick background on the BRAIN. I think this will just help the concept of “thought work” make sense to you.
A while back I watched an online interview of a psychologist. He was explaining some super fascinating things about the brain that just stuck with me. And since then I’ve heard this same explanation from other psychologists and life coaches that I follow and study. (You may already know this information I’m going to share!) But what was essentially explained was that we have a LOWER BRAIN and a HIGHER BRAIN.
Our Lower Brain was the first part of our brain to develop. It is designed to keep us safe and it does NOT seek change or growth. It wants to stay the same as it’s always been and wants to use as little energy as possible to function. It’s where impulsive thoughts and emotions like fear, stress, and anger are created. Among others.
Our Higher Brain on the other hand is where our intellect and intuition live. Our higher Brain is where we have joy, gratitude, spiritual connection, creativity, confidence, etc.But it takes much more intentional effort to operate from the Higher Brain. So how do you get to where you can access your higher brain more easily and naturally? One of the most effective ways that I’ve learned to do it is THOUGHT WORK.
5 THINGS “THOUGHT WORK” CAN DO FOR YOU:
- It can help you recognize the thought pattern you have (and possibly have had since the time of your childhood, or maybe since a traumatic experience (or number of experiences) that occurred in your life, etc)
- It can help you become aware of the relationship you have with yourself and see where it needs to improve.
- It can help you create NEW thinking habits, a NEW belief system, and NEW emotions to operate from more frequently instead of the ones that have just been natural,impulsive and engrained in you for so long. I’m only talking about the ones that you actually want to change. The ones that aren’t serving you in your life.
- It can help you learn to train the inner voice in your head. We all have one. And practicing“thought work” is a super powerful way to become more aware of what your inner voice is saying. You can literally train that voice to be more kind, more loving, more compassionate, more productive, less jealous, less stressed, less lazy. Whatever you choose.
- I think the BIGGEST PAYOFF of all (which I touched on a little in my previous post) is that it will help you with LIFE! It can help you gain the clarity and confidence to accomplish goals you’ve been staring at for months or even years. It can help you strengthen your relationships, it can help you to stop being so frustrated with your kids or your spouse. It can help you with self-love and body image, it can help you feel empowered to make decisions, take action and be more productive. It can help you to feel the good emotions you want to be feeling on a day to day basis, it can help you heal and move on from something you’ve experienced in the past, or things you’re currently experiencing or even things you’ll go through in the future. It can just help you be mentally stronger in all areas of life.
With that said, if you JUST experienced something that was traumatic or life changing in some way, I think it’s super important that you let yourself feel and process your thoughts and emotions about it. That’s part of being human. Don’t be in a huge rush to immediately start working on your thoughts regarding that traumatic experience. Give yourself time. Let your brain get to a more receptive place before you start working through it. And then you decide when you’re ready. (This is simply my opinion from my experience)
5 SIMPLE STEPS TO START IMPLEMENTING THOUGHT WORK IN YOUR LIFE:
- BECOME AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS: You do this by taking a step back and “watching” your brain. Pick something that you’re experiencing or struggling with currently in your life (this can also be something from your past). No matter how big or small. Get a notebook or journal out and start writing everything that goes through your mind about that circumstance or problem. You’re basically downloading all your thoughts onto the paper. Letting it flow. Don’t hold back. Don’t judge yourself. Just write. Get your thoughts out so you can physically look at them. (So important)
- SEPARATE YOUR THOUGHTS FROM THE FACTS: Once you’ve written it all out you can then more easily separate your thoughts from the actual facts. I typically find that maybe 2 of the sentences I wrote are factual statements. The rest are just thoughts in my brain. And once I realize that I typically have an “AHA”moment where I suddenly think, “Oh my gosh, no wonder I am still feeling so angry about this! Or so stressed about this! Or full of fear over this!… Look at my thoughts!”
- ASK YOURSELF WHAT THOUGHTS YOU WANT TO CHANGE: I like to start with choosing just 3 or 4 of the thoughts that I can see are negatively affecting me. You could even start with just 1 or 2 if you want. And then INTENTIONALLY decide what new thoughts you want to cultivate and believe instead. Really think about it…What new thoughts do you want to replace these old thoughts with? These new thoughts should be believable to you and should resonate with you on some level.
Here are some very general examples: If you try to go from the thought “I’m not enough” to “I’m freakin amazing!”, your brain might not believe that transition just yet. If it does then go for it! But often it starts with baby steps. You could try going from “I’m not enough” to “I am someone… and I have a purpose.” Or if you often struggle with the thought “I’m so overwhelmed, there’s just too much to get done”– you could maybe try going to the thought, ”I’ll use my time wisely to get everything done that I truly need to”. Or if it’s a thought like “I’m so anxious I can’t take this anymore”– try directing your mind to “This anxiety is just a feeling. It will pass. Everything is ok. I am ok.” (That is one of my personal go to’s.)
These are just suggestions, only you can know what thoughts will work foryou. See what you can come up with! And like I said those are just general scenarios. Your thoughts might be totally different and way more specific which is great!
- PRACTICE BELIEVING YOUR NEW THOUGHTS- For me, this is the fun part and the most important step of all. And it’s the only thing that can truly start creating new thought patterns in my brain. These are the ways I do it– By thinking the new thoughts on purpose, every single day, many times a day (don’t under estimate the power of that). Writing them out in my journal every morning before I start the day is super powerful and effective as well. Saying them out loud is also very helpful to the mind. Letting myself really FEEL these thoughts as if they are already 100% true. Now, when you do this and the old negative thoughts pop up in your head (and they will), remember to not judge yourself. Just simply notice them, and then LOVINGLY redirect your mind to the new thoughts you’ve chosen. This will get easier with practice. And the best part is when you start to see the results of your new thought pattern!
- REMEMBER THIS IS AN ONGOING PROCESS AND COMMITMENT: The change in your brain will not happen overnight. But if you truly take the time to start applying this in your life, I can promise you the improvement in your mental and emotional well being will be substantial. And the more you do it the better you will get at it… and the easier it will be to notice your negative thoughts and redirect them in a split second if you want to. It’s NOT meant to take away every single negative thought you have or to make you feel happy all the time. That’s not realistic, nor is life supposed to always be positive. Thought Work is about finding greater balance through learning how to manage your mind.
By doing this you’re essentially strengthening your brain, you’re forcing it to grow and change, to unlock greater potential. You’re forcing it to think thoughts that it’s not used to thinking, which will probably be a little uncomfortable at first. Your brain would much rather continue thinking “I’m not good enough”, or “She’s a better mom than me”, or “I don’t feel like trying this new thing” or “I’m so overwhelmed.” For many of us it is MUCH EASIER and more familiar for our brains to think those types of thoughts. And it will continue to do as it’s always done… unless you tell it to do otherwise.
So, I invite you to challenge your brain with “thought work!” Start with one area of your life and just work your way to other areas as you choose. I am not perfect at it and I still have plenty to work on concerning my own thoughts. But I have come a LONG way. And I can promise you that it’s an incredibly liberating and empowering skill to cultivate. I think we often forget that our mental health matters just as much as our physical health. But remember that your mind is worth the time and effort! You are worth it! The people in your life who you love are worth it! Be intentional. Find Peace. Find Joy. And go buy a THOUGHT JOURNAL!
As always, please reach out if you have any thoughts, questions, or just want to connect!