… the reality isn’t so much about a diagnosable condition as it is about the thoughts I am thinking, words I am speaking, behaviors I am exhibiting … “
Be Careful with Your Thoughts
Have you ever had a friend or family member who seemed to really live a life full of drama? Did that person really struggle with the “he said/she said” mind-set? Did you ever wonder how one person can somehow appear to be a swirling, inescapable vortex of negativity?
I certainly have, and it didn’t take long for me to find very creative ways to avoid that person.
Conversely, have you ever had that friend or family member who seemed to live a really fun and peaceful life where they seemed to just radiate good luck or happiness? You know the one. That friendly, happy-go-lucky soul that never seemed to have a bad day, or if they did … somehow it turned out just swell (like the show Leave it to Beaver back in the 1970s) anyway.
Did you notice how they seemed to say nice things and exude joy like a never-ending fountain of positive energy?
I have found myself in varying degrees of both of these situations with other people, and in my own life (I have been both the negative black hole and the positive well-spring). There really have been several peaks and valleys for me personally, where I am on top of the world or down in the dumps.
I suppose some might say I have a bit of mild bipolar disorder or something like it, but the reality isn’t so much about a diagnosable condition as it is about the thoughts I am thinking, words I am speaking, behaviors I am exhibiting and so forth.
Let’s take that idea for a test drive and see if you find it to be true in your life.
So there you are looking through your Rolodex of memories one morning, and you stop on the one where something bad happened.
In relationships, it might be the memory of your girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband cheating on you or breaking up with you. That thought becomes a reminder of an avalanche of icky, funky feelings. That avalanche of feelings breaks loose and comes tumbling down with irresistible force, pulling your facial expressions into obvious sadness, anger or disgust.
Try as you might, it seems hard to shake off. You notice your typically happy friends and the kind passersby don’t want to make eye contact. You feel isolated and you notice your thoughts become words … unkind and unhappy words. You say things to yourself and even to others that fit your foul mood, even if they do not fit the situation well.
It sounds like this:
A friend says, “Good morning … you look annoyed. Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?”
You scowl and snap back, “I don’t wanna talk about it.”
The friend gets the hint and scurries away.
The day continues and you notice that email is down or your computer has a virus, which compounds the problem you have been thinking, feeling and even verbalizing. Your boss comes in and demands that report that you promised or tells you he wants you to work late. You feel like you are going to explode, but you keep it inside … boiling like a pressure cooker on the highest setting.
After a few days, the original thought recedes into your subconscious, but the funky, icky feelings are still there and your words drip with venom. Your typically positive actions become tainted as well. You stop socializing at the water cooler. You avoid phone calls unless it is to vent these bad feelings on the poor fool who dared to call you.
Before you know it, several days of this have passed and you begin to wonder what in the heck happened. The answer is simple: your thoughts happened. Remember?
Our words are an outward expression of those thoughts and feelings. Those words we create set the stage for our behaviors. Behaviors exercised over and over become habits. Habits become values, and values become our destiny — at least according to Gandhi.
So let’s rewind that entire episode above and see what could have happened to interrupt the negative avalanche.
1. Thoughts Lead to Feelings
The first bad thought was about the bad relationship. We linked it (subconsciously) to feelings of dread, pain and sadness. Obviously, we can’t just decide to never have negative thoughts. They pop in our heads all the time, and trying consciously not to think bad thoughts actually REQUIRE that we think about that.
We can choose how we feel about those thoughts, however.
This is the first opportunity to stop the self-fulfilling prophecy, which in this case is that we think bad thoughts, feel bad emotions. Of course we also express negative comments, engage in negative actions and body language, and so on until we literally manifest that negative self.
Guess what happens when we speak positive things into existence? We immediately change our behaviors and body language to conform to those words.”
2. Thoughts and Feelings Become Words
What if we have the negative feeling and miss the first opportunity to stop the negative roller coaster ride we are about to take into the valley of despair?
Well, we can still stop it with our words. Sure, it is a little odd to feel icky and funky as we think about something bad then try to speak good things and positive words, but it is possible.
I try to encourage clients to get out of WHY and get into HOW. In essence, when you have the negative thought (about a bad relationship), fail to get into a positive emotional state about it and then feel the big drop off coming, you could say:
- “Why oh why did he/she cheat on me?”
- “Why did this happen?”
- “Why can’t things go back to how they were?”
Or, you could get out of WHY and get into HOW, like this:
- “How can get back in the game right now?”
- “How can I learn from this experience in a positive way?”
- “How will I think, feel, speak and act so that I am in control, rather than letting my thoughts and emotions overwhelm me?”
Your words are YOUR creation. You get to choose what they are, how they come out, and even what they mean! Words are so powerful that I tell my clients you can literally speak things into existence. This might seem new to you, but just like a new car you have to go for a test drive to see if you like it.
I want you to really take this idea for a nice long test drive and see for yourself. I bet you will find that in the examples I gave in the beginning about the ultra-negative, drama-spouting person and the highly positive, energized person there really is an opportunity to CHOOSE how you want to be.
3. Words Become Actions
This really isn’t the end. In fact, this is only the first part of this amazing technique. Guess what happens when we speak positive things into existence? We immediately change our behaviors and body language to conform to those words.
Those actions and behaviors have an amazing effect on our physiology. We produce hormones and neurotransmitters in response to behaviors, which is why doctors keep telling us to exercise to battle depression, for example.
That isn’t all. When we adopt new actions regularly, we build new habits. Those new habits become our experiences, which become the memories we enjoy in our mental Rolodex. (Now, let that concept sink in for a second.)
Wouldn’t you rather have a mental file of mostly positive experiences to pull from? You bet!
Imagine if that one bad relationship experience (which many people have) had somehow turned out to be a learning experience that set you on the path to finding your true love! What if that bad experience was paired with the new feelings associated with the love of your life, a happy marriage, amazing kids and even the family dog?
WOW! What just happened? You have the same experience, but you filed it under a much more positive label—growth, for example, or maybe opportunity instead of loss and betrayal.
Our minds do not have an opinion. If we choose to have good experiences, our brains will file it accordingly. And when we access those memories, we will have an amazing thought-feeling experience we can relive with a positive outcome.
Never Forget These Words
Never forget that thoughts lead to feelings, which lead to words and behaviors.
Behaviors lead to habits, which become our values and even … our destiny.
Become the self-fulfilling prophet in control of a destiny that you choose, instead of feeling stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy that spirals into negativity and self-doubt.
Tell us what you do to keep your thoughts positive by leaving a comment below!