Whether you’ve heard this attributed to Buddha or seen different permutations from the Bible, the message is the same: the thoughts we think shape the persons we are, both physically and psychologically.
Years ago I would have called bullshit on this. I was so invested in my misery, my stuckness, and the blame I got to throw around that there was no possible way for me to accept ownership for it. That really is the sticky bit of this quote/concept: ownership.
Let’s unravel this a bit. If you’re at all human (and I’m guessing you are), you’ve likely at some point or another experienced detrimental thought loops. Maybe it sounded like “I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” Or “What did I do to deserve this?” “I’ll never do/be/achieve______.” “I’m not enough.” There is an infinite number of possible negative thought loops, but you get the picture. Even the most successful among us experiences this on occasion. The difference is what they, and now I, do with them.
Before we go there though, I want you to think about how those thoughts FEEL. What do they feel like in your body? Tight? Constricting? Draining? All of the above? These are the physical manifestations of your negative thought loop. This is the direct result of the cortisol that starts pumping through your body because your autonomic nervous system doesn’t know the difference between real (a bear chasing you) and imagined (I am unlovable). “I am unlovable” was one of mine.
So what can you do with these loops? And where does ownership come in? The first step is having the awareness to recognize a loop when you’re in it. At some point, for many of us, these loops become habit, so ingrained in our beings that we don’t even recognize we’re in them. The next step is to interrupt the loop. The kindest, gentlest way I know of I learned in a meditation class: set the thought off to one side, thank your mind for making you aware of it, then let it go. There is no assigning of good or bad, right or wrong. There is no berating of yourself for getting sucked into a loop. It’s simply an “ah, I see you” and “it’s okay, I got this.”
Need an example? I’m in a relatively new romantic relationship and every once in a while I recognize myself getting sucked into old Barbara thought patterns like “what did I do, why isn’t he responding” or “why hasn’t he done x, y, or z?” I will literally say to myself, out loud “Don’t do that Barb. You’re pretty amazing and I’m pretty sure he’s quite enamored with you. So stop.” Okay, that may sound a bit tough, but I know I can be, and sometimes need to get, tough with myself. Call it tough love because it is definitely an act of love to call myself out on my bullshit.
Which brings me to ownership. Recognizing and disrupting these negative thought loops gives you the gift of ownership over your life. It puts you in the driver’s seat, where you belong, instead of being a passenger to your story and the circumstances of your life. Taking responsibility, accepting it really, is the most empowered thing you can do with your life.
As I mentioned last Friday, I’ve opened up my schedule to 10 new 1 on 1 coaching clients and there are still slots open. One thing I failed to mention is that the price is locked in for one year, so should you want to keep working with me beyond the first 6 sessions, the rate stays the same. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your intake session today!