Each and every one of us, in every single waking moment, are choosing our thoughts. We are choosing what we think about, what we feel, what we believe. It is a choice to think we are ugly or unworthy or undeserving of that promotion. We have chosen to make excuses to not exercise or read or buy that pretty black dress. We have chosen to feel victimized or angry or happy. It’s all a choice and as simple as that sounds, it’s actually quite difficult.
Sadly, we don’t realize it’s a decision because it’s our default setting to think the way we do. The cacophony of our thoughts have created this white noise of self-loathing and stale thinking that has become the norm for our daily lives. We have programmed a certain set of beliefs into our minds and they are the thoughts we automatically and unknowingly download every second of every day. When you look in the mirror, what do you typically think? In public, do you tend to catch yourself judging others around you? How do you speak to others about yourself? What thoughts do/can you notice you’re thinking about?
A belief is a thought on repeat
These last ten days I have been on vacation with my husband and our daughter. We planned a camping trip to British Columbia as a ‘babymoon”: one last vacation as a family of three before baby comes and also, it’s probably the last trip for a long while as we transition to a family of four.
While away, I had a very pivotal moment one morning where my thoughts felt out of my control and left me in a bad headspace. I hadn’t felt this way in a long time and was overwhelmed by its intensity and speed. The morning went like this:
- I woke up to sunshine, mountains, fresh air and a rested sleep while my husband and daughter slept on.
- I started a fire and set the pot to boil water for coffee.
- While I waited, I jumped on Instagram (my favourite form social media because NORMALLY it inspires and educates me.)
- I scrolled and scrolled, laughing at some things, feeling inspired by others until THAT post. You know the one. The one that triggers something dark within and opens the gate for ugly emotions to unravel. I felt jealousy and envy and self-pity seeing it. That catalyst sent my Ego into Her happy place of judgement.
- I began the comparison game. “I should be doing this.” “I should be doing what she’s doing.” “I could be doing more.” “I don’t work hard enough.” “I’m jealous of their friendship.” “I’m not a good enough friend.”
And on and on it went. I was wallowing in self-pity, the blame game, Judge Judy-ing everything I came across before my conscious went, “WOAH! Wait a minute. What’s going on here?”
It was as if I had opened the floodgates to every insecurity I have ever had and they were pouring in faster than I could sort through them. It was just a jumble of sadness, self-loathing and criticism:
- “No one’s text you since you’ve been gone. You’re a loser.”
- “No one likes you.”
- “You’re not working hard enough. You don’t deserve this holiday until you’ve accomplished more. Get to work.”
- “You have nothing worth writing about. Just end the blog.”
HOLD ON. Pause. Even though this pity party was only a few minutes, it left me feeling drained and exhausted. I had to check myself. My Ego was roaring and demanding fuel for her fire breathing negativity. I almost gave in. Even a year ago, I would have. I would’ve allowed that post and subsequent feelings to ruin my day. I would’ve wallowed in the negative energy and chose thoughts that perpetuated those “beliefs”. For instance, I would’ve found ways to enforce those limiting beliefs: “You’re right: I could’ve got that contract signed before I left and didn’t so you must be right: I am a loser in the workplace.”
So how did I get out of that vortex? How did I tame my Ego?
I pulled my chair into a direct, beautiful ray of sunshine, closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths and sat there. I focused my energy on the warmth hitting my face, the birds chirping around me, the smells of the forest. I became fully present in the moment. Then I asked myself, “Were all those things you were thinking actually true?” And as I sorted through the barrage I realized, no, they weren’t true. I know I am loved. I know I am hardworking. I know I can write. I know I bring value to my friendships.
I put on a guided meditation from my favourite app, Insight Timer and listened to one focused on self-love and self-worth. I listened with every cell of my being and engaged in the words, the music and the feelings coursing through my body. I took control of my body and my thoughts.
It was only 15 minutes but that 15 minutes changed everything. My attitude shifted. That feeling of being present stayed with me throughout the day and I was kinder to myself and my family. |That original Instagram post lost its power over me. I also saw how my Ego tries to “protect” my heart by trying to erect walls of nonchalant attitudes and limiting beliefs so I don’t get hurt trying to climb the mountains of change. I saw how my automatic thoughts had been ones of negativity and shame and guilt. I saw how easy it was to fall into the trap of believing them but I also felt how easy it was to change them around. I just had to become conscious of it first.
And of course, that’s always the hardest part.
But I chose again and consciously chose different (and more loving) thoughts so the next time I see something that triggers an old belief system or an ugly emotion, I can stop quicker, change my thoughts quicker and move on quicker. Some old habits and beliefs die hard and living a spiritual life doesn’t always mean eradicating every flaw and bad habit and behaviour.
It’s about awareness and loving-kindness and catching yourself in the moment and choosing again; with conscious intention and love.
Next time you feel yourself spinning down the vortex of the comparison game or ugly thoughts and beliefs- Just STOP. Physically stop whatever you are doing. Put the phone down. Stop walking. Get away from the computer. Leave the room. Whatever it is, just stop. Close your eyes and breath slowly through your nose and more slowly out through your mouth. Feel the air enter your nose. Feel your lungs fill. Do your shoulders rise up or your belly press out? Focus on the sensations in your body. Then ask yourself, “Is what I’m thinking true?” 97% of the time I can almost guarantee you that it won’t be. You’re not ugly and boring and unworthy or making a mess of your life or whatever. It’s just your Ego’s way of trying to protect you in its weird backwards seeming ways! Then throw on a meditation if you can or focus on bringing awareness to the moment and talking to yourself the way you would your best friend. What would you tell your best friend if she was repeating your exact thoughts to you? You certainly would reassure her and speak with love and comfort, right? Do the same for yourself. You deserve all the love in the world too. And next time your thoughts turn ugly, remember, you have a choice. You can program new choices in that become your default setting. More importantly, most of your negative thoughts WON’T BE TRUE so discard the lies, don the loving kindness, get present with yourself and move on with your day!
United we rise,