Don’t Let Thoughts Halt Your Success
Do you ever find yourself flitting between the unstoppable surge of action and then the despair of doubt and procrastination?
I certainly have over the past few years, but recently I have done some research on how our minds work and I found some very interesting information which helps us understand why we sometimes loose direction on our path to success. Just as a quick example of how our minds can take over – do you ever wonder why some mornings we wake up feeling all ready to take on the world from the off; we feel full of energy, bounce out of bed and can’t wait to take on the world! Yet on another morning; we wake up feeling a little jaded, we reach over and hit the snooze button (a couple of times!), then we eventually rise from our pit, but never quite get into the right frame of mind that day and feel like time is running 20% slower somehow.
Well, there is no difference in our situation and we are perfectly healthy, IT’S OUR THINKING THAT’S DIFFERENT!, but if our thoughts are working against us; we have little chance of success at that time.
Now if we are simply aware of some thinking pitfalls, then we have a chance to overcome them and press on, but if we are not aware of them, they can really have a negative effect on us.
Just as we are not always conscious of the way we walk or how we drive a car, we are not always aware of our thinking. Some of our thinking is actually automatic, like our driving, and because if this our minds can churn over thoughts and ideas without us being conscious of it.
There are three kinds of automatic thoughts:
Neutral thoughts e.g. “I think I will buy some bread today”
Positive thoughts e.g. “This is something I can really do well”
Negative thoughts e.g. “I always find this hard, I must be stupid”
I’m sure you can all relate to these thoughts, but it’s the negative thoughts that can cause us some stress, and what I’m going to share with you is some examples of more subtle ways that these thoughts can creep into our daily activities. If we are not aware of them, these thought can really affect our moods and feelings at any given time, but if we can recognise them, we can swerve around them and move on with our goal to success.
My challenge to you is; do you recognise yourself in any of these unhelpful thinking styles?
Thinking style – Mental Filter
When we use a Mental Filter, we “filter” in some information, while we “filter” out other types of information. This creates a kind of “tunnel vision”, where we focus on one part of a situation and ignore the rest. Often, this means looking at the negative part of a situation and forgetting the positive.
Here’s an example:
Maybe you are out for dinner with a long-term partner. (A partner that you think the world of, you love them wholeheartedly and your love grows stronger every day). Now, you have a lovely dinner and enjoy a really romantic evening, but you have a disagreement about the amount of tip to leave. Perhaps you stew over this disagreement in the car on the way home. What effect do you think this thinking style will have on the way you feel after that journey home? can you see how dwelling on one small negative detail over the many positive ones can change the whole picture? If you focus on the negative bit, then it’s likely that you will keep experiencing the negative feelings that go with it.
Thinking style – “Shoulding” & “Musting”
It’s quite common to use these words in our daily language and sometimes it’s useful and helpful e.g. “I should get this done” Or “I Must not get drunk when I’m driving”. But these kinds of words do become unhelpful when you use “should” and “must” statements which put unrealistic demands or pressure on yourself. If you find yourself thinking “well I must get that done, then I must do this, then I should really do this……”, when you know damn well that each job is actually a several hour task. Have you been realistic with the reality of the timing of these tasks?
Chances are, if you put too much pressure on yourself with these types of statements, you will feel guilty or disappointed.
Thinking style – Overgeneralisation
The key element to this thinking style is to take one instance of something, and to impose it on all future situations. You might find yourself messing up a task on some software and find yourself thinking “This is just typical” and telling yourself “this is how things always are with me” or “things always go wrong for me”, when in fact you have completed many such tasks well and have made great progress in the past, and there is much evidence to prove that fact.
If you think about personal relationships, you might notice a few overgeneralisations. Have you ever said “I always take out the rubbish”, “You never do anything romantic”, notice that these statements usually include the words “all”, “never”, “every”, when in most cases, the “all” and “never” are not as solid as we might think.
So, what do you think?…… can you hear yourself thinking any of these statements?
Can you see how it’s the feelings that are created by these thoughts that do the damage, as our thoughts certainly do have a direct bearing on our feelings, and of course our feelings really do have an impact on our actions.
There are actually about ten of these thinking styles and another post might dig a little deeper into these, but for now it’s important to recognise that there are negative thinking styles which are not helpful to us, but if we recognise them, we can aim around them, laugh at them and carry on our journey to success.
I would be most interested to hear if you recognise yourself in either of the thinking styles above, so please let me know.