Do you believe everything your brain tells you?
I used to.
My brain loves to tell me all kinds of things that I used to believe without giving a second thought:
“I’m too old to change.”
“Eating this cupcake will make me feel better.”
“I’ll do it tomorrow.”
“I should only do things that I already know how to do.”
“Making mistakes is bad. Failing is worse.”
“This is too hard.”
“I’m the worst mom ever.”
I used to believe these statements as fact.
They came from my brain, after all. Doesn’t that make them fact?
It does not.
Did you know that the brain has over 6,000 thoughts a DAY?
6,000! (Here’s the research.)
What are the odds that every single one of those 6,000 thoughts is true?
I’m no mathematician, but I’m going to guess the answer is that it is not even remotely possible that every one of our 6,000 thoughts is true. There have got to be quite a few untrue thoughts in there as well.
If this is the case, then why can’t we choose which thoughts we want to believe?
The good news is that we can! (It just takes some practice.)
Improving Your Self-Awareness
Figuring out which thoughts to believe and which to question requires you to be aware of your thoughts.
Self-awareness is a skill that, with practice, gets easier over time.
One of the best ways to increase your self-awareness is through journaling.
Journaling is a practice that can reveal deep thoughts that you didn’t even know existed. When you write by hand, you allow the brain to slow down to match the speed of your writing. This allows space for our thoughts to percolate and expand. Don’t be surprised if you end up making new discoveries about yourself when writing. This is one of the best parts!
Tuning into what you feel is another good way to discover your thoughts. When you notice that you feel a certain way (anxious, relief, afraid, etc.), take a moment to see if you can identify the thought that is causing this feeling.
Once you become aware of your thoughts, you are able to see if they align with your core beliefs. I like to ask myself three questions to decide if a thought that feels off is one I want to believe:
Is it true? (Like really true, not just feeling true.)
Is it kind? (To myself & others)
Is it helpful? (Is it going to produce something good?)
I have found that if the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, that my brain is playing tricks on me and I can let the thought go.
Thoughts as Suggestions
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, has another take on giving credence to each and every one of our 6,000 daily thoughts:
"Your mind is a suggestion engine. Every thought you have is a suggestion, not an order. Sometimes your mind suggests that you are tired, that you should give up, or that you should take an easier path.
But if you pause, you can discover new suggestions. For example, that you will feel good once the work is done or that you have the ability to finish things even when you don't feel like it.
Your thoughts are not orders. Merely suggestions. You have the power to choose which option to follow."
Imagine what would happen the next time your brain sent you the thought “I think you need a snack” and you took it as a suggestion and not a mandate!
That’s a Thought
You don’t have to act on every thought you have. You don’t have to believe every one either.
The next time you have a thought that’s not sitting right with you, stop and question it. You may find that just by shining a light on it, you will see the holes in it that make it not true.
Say to yourself, “That’s a thought” and move on to your next one.
Interested in uncovering more of your unintentional thoughts so you can create better results in your life? This is the work I do with my coaching clients. Let’s see if I can help you when we chat during your Complimentary 60-Minute Consultation Conversation. Sign up here.