(Please go to my Facebook page, drphyliswakefield, for all previous Mindful Monday posts. I’ve just started putting them on my website but there are 7 months of Mindful Monday posts available.)
Thoughts > Feelings > Actions > Results
If you aren’t happy with the results in your life, then your actions need to change, which means ultimately, your thoughts which are driving your feelings and actions, need to change. We probably all know this by now. Easier said than done. Here are 3 Steps to help you rethink your thinking, step into mindfulness and find freedom, peace and purpose.
Step 1: Observe your thoughts
This is the MINDFULNESS piece. Observing our thoughts, noticing with curiosity instead of judgement is the first step in a mindful practice (breathing is a good first step too!). If we don’t know what is driving us, we can’t change directions.
Exercise: For 10 minutes, write down all the thoughts you notice; this is especially helpful if you are thinking about something challenging, risky, adventurous where your mind might have a lot to say. Just notice the thoughts – not trying to control, edit or change – and write them down. There is incredible value in noticing who ‘rents space in your head’! Is it the critic, the doubter, the cheerleader, the ‘naysayer’, the scaredy cat, or maybe someone else entirely ? Be curious who is running the show!
Step 2: Detach ~ You are NOT your thoughts.
I love this quote from a cool book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mindset by T. Harv Eker:
“Realize that your thoughts and beliefs aren’t who you are, and they are not necessarily attached to you. As precious as you believe them to be, they have no more importance and meaning than you give them. Nothing has meaning except for the meaning you give it”. (p. 46)
Letting go of our thoughts, detaching from the meaning we give them, and observing them for what they are – just thoughts – is powerful. We are left with choice and freedom.
Exercise: I highly recommend Byron Katie’s “Work” as a way to begin challenging your thoughts. Byron Katie is another teacher/author who is known for her “work” on turning around thoughts that do not serve us by following a line of inquiry. She has an astonishing following because her work is so simple and impactful. Another practice is to simply notice your thoughts acknowledge that you are not your thoughts. See if you can recognize where the thought came from (mom, dad, society, inner critic). See if you can recognize that you have the choice to continue to buy into this thought or not. Perhaps it’s time to collect some evidence for a new, more empowering thought!
Step 3. Shine your light in the direction you want to go
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose”. Dr. Seuss
Once you observe your thoughts and let go of your attachment to them, the next step is to focus your thinking and actions in the direction you so choose. If you don’t have a vision or intention for what it is that you want, it is hard not to fall back to default thinking/acting. For example, if I’m tired of my ‘stinking thinking’ around exercise – thoughts about being “too tired” or “too busy” which results in everything but exercising during the day, I can observe those thoughts that are running me, let go of my attachment to how real or true they are, and set an intention for myself and a way of thinking that actually empowers me and leads me to exercise. In this case, my intention would be, “I can and will make time, even if it is only 5 minutes, to move my body today. I have time and I have energy.” Shining our spotlight onto those thoughts that lead us action and purpose is so much more empowering.
Exercise: Write down your intention for the day or pick a particular project/area of interest and write down your vision of what it will look like start to finish. Be specific. Close your eyes and imagine yourself engaging in this activity, mindfully as you intended. Breathe. Notice how you feel in your body as you set an intention and visualize it all the way through to completion. Imagine a bright spotlight on you as you move through your day. Shine this light on the direction you are choosing to go and when it shifts away, gently bring it back. This takes practice and is incredibly rewarding when you are able to stick with it and practice!
Mindfully practice Rethinking your Thinking this week – Observe your thoughts, Detach from your thoughts, and Shine your light in the direction YOU choose.