Thought Work 101
If you want to feel better and take your power back, start with this exercise.
If I could only give you one exercise to do, this would be it. I alluded to it here, but now I want to give you the specifics of how to complete an exercise called the thought download.
Step one: pick a topic. It can be anything that's bothering you, something that happened in the past, or you can start by simply writing down anything that's on your mind. Write it all down without editing yourself. Stop when you get it all out.
Step two: Under all of your sentences, retell the story you told in the sentences above, but this time only use the facts. In this instance, a fact doesn't include adjectives or adverbs. It's boring. For example, boss sent email that said: and you'd write the exact words they used. Or, if your thought is, we never have enough money, the facts are you have money. You can write the exact amount that you currently have in your bank account. If you do this correctly, you'll be surprised to see how few facts are in your story. You might have pages of stories (thoughts) and 2 or 3 sentences of true facts (circumstances). If you're having trouble identifying the facts, imagine a camera was there, recording whatever it is that you're writing about. What would the camera record?
Step 3: Remember, circumstances (facts) are neutral. Now that you have your facts clearly defined, you can see what you're making these very neutral circumstances mean by looking at the story you wrote about them (in Step 1). What you meant it mean is an optional story. Maybe you don't believe this. Think about a time where you and a friend have witnessed the same event and you tell different stories about the event. Or, how siblings would describe their childhood. Or, look at recent events. Look how different people are reacting to COVID-19. Some are terrified about their health, some are worried about their businesses, some aren't worried at all about COVID-19. Why is that? COVID-19 existing is neutral. Everyone has a different thought about it and what it means for them. It's a choice. Final example: I know of two people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. One is furious. She's directing all of her anger at her state's governor. Blaming her for her loss and saying how she should be doing things differently. The other? She threw herself into a new business and is THRIVING. She's never had more orders and is working around the clock to fill the orders. Same circumstance. Different thoughts.
A good way to start to get a little space around your thoughts is to ask yourself questions like: What might someone else make these neutral facts mean? What would it be like to believe the opposite story you wrote? Could you believe that? Would you want to if you could?
This awareness around the fact that you have a choice in how you see your circumstances is everything. When you really, deeply understand that what feels like simply describing your life, is actually your story about your life. And it's optional. Now, you might be thinking but that's not realistic! Look! I have this much money in my bank account. Your current results (your current facts/circumstances) are a result of your past thinking.
If you want new results you have to start thinking and feeling and acting differently. It's why so many of us create the same lives over and over. We are thinking the same things and creating the same results for ourselves. We just think our lives are happening to us. They're not. We create our lives. When you can start to take responsibility for ALL of the results that you created - the positive and negative results - that's where your power is to move forward and start creating new results for yourself.
If you want some help with this process or want to learn more, schedule a free consultation! I can help you start creating new results in your life - it's what coaches do!