Have you ever wondered where ideas come from? Why am I thinking about her, right now. Why am I in this room and what inspired me to go here? Why did I find myself saying that? These questions prompted me to see all my thoughts as holding value, even if I could not see how. Maybe they were helping me remember something I had long forgotten. Maybe they were nudges from my spirit as to which way to go in life. And maybe they were ideas come forward in order to be healed.
Thoughts, I have found, all hold potential. They can become a better thought. They can lead us on a chain of thoughts to a better place. They can take us on a ride, and deliver us to a new location. That’s how powerful our minds are.
Using your mind, then, is not about thinking it out. It’s about planning it out, and then thinking. Here is the difference. In the first case, you do all the work in your head. In the second case, you get the ideas out of your head, so you can improve them, on purpose.
This is why self reflection is such a useful tool. It allows you to empty yourself, see your thoughts, and then choose new thoughts, one at a time. Then, with these new thoughts, you add them back in to your Practice so that you think them on purpose. If you did this every day for a week, you could clear your biggest blocks. If you made this a habit, you’d change your life. If you did this with an intention to always choose the better thought, you’d heal your old wounds.
This is why self reflection is such a useful tool. It allows you to empty yourself, see your thoughts, and then choose new thoughts, one at a time.
Intentions are something I use to point my life in a certain direction. For instance, today I intend to look great, feel great, and produce great content, even as I plan to go to work, attend meetings, and prepare for the Christmas season. I like to mix up my intentions, with some days having specific intentions (e.g. I want to make progress on a Big Goal), but in general, I like wide, open-ended intentions that help me maximize my chance for success. And improving my thinking provides me the best chance to have a great day.
When you catch yourself ruminating on an idea, which I call a story to remind myself that we all tell stories all the time, I now stop, recenter myself, and then tell a story that makes me feel better. Almost instantly.
Here is how it works. Say I noticed someone littering, an action I do not like. I could for the next few minutes stir in negativity as to why that jerk just littered, or I could benefit myself by telling a story that gives a little grace and assumes he had a good reason to litter. I might even make up a good reason for him. Instantly, I am out of negativity, and moving toward a feeling of neutrality.
Once there, in neutral, I can now move in a positive direction and for me, that means I turn my attention to that which I want. Wants = positive. So saying “I want” is always a move to a more positive state of mind.
In this example, after a stop in neutral, I would begin to reflect on how I enjoy clean, uncluttered spaces. How I like a clear landscape to enjoy. How I prefer when trash is put in the trash can. All of these are better ideas than stewing in negativity and judgment. Why are they better? Because they make me feel better.
I will come clean. I don’t do this thought work for others. I do it for me. I do it because I prefer to feel great. I prefer to extend grace. I prefer to focus on my wants. Why? Because I want to be on the positive side of the ledger for most of life.
Negativity is a choice. But it’s so much more than that too. It’s an opportunity to tell a better story and change how you feel. And how you feel changes who you are.
We all know the difference between a person who stews in fear, and one who is moving toward love. We all experience the difference between a negative and positive experience. And we all know that when we feel good, we tend to do more good.
This season, I hope you embrace all your negative thinking and use it to improve how you feel.