If you’ve ever wished to change things in life, in a relationship, or at work, chances are that you’ve needed to notice your thoughts and slow down. Noticing our own thoughts is the first and most important skill to learn when trying to make a change. Once you’re aware of your own thoughts it’s natural to realize that others may think differently–and now we have somewhere to begin.
This is episode number 129. Welcome to the Mindset for life Podcast; this podcast is for you, if you love, serve, teach and lead others, you want things to keep getting better, you want encouragement. And just one little idea today to get stronger in your life, your relationships or your work. I’m Bethanie Hansen, and I help people everywhere take control of their current situations, and have power to do what they need to do in the future as well.
Today’s episode is about noticing your thoughts. That’s right, becoming aware of subconscious thoughts, and those more intentional.
This is Bethanie Hansen, your coach, and I am so excited to be with you today. You know, I love giving this podcast because I can’t imagine not sharing with you all of the things that have made my life amazing in the last few years. Some of those things are ideas I learned long ago, perhaps as a child or a college student, or something like that. But only when I started coach training did they become obvious to me.
Some of those things really are basic to the way I think all the time now. And I want to help you by sharing them with you a little bit every week.
This first idea today is all about noticing, controlling and getting on top of your thoughts. When I say that, what I’m saying is you have these thoughts that are happening all the time. We’re not always conscious of those. In fact, some philosophers and existentialists would call this consciousness, something deep that we could stop and study.
Observe Your Own Thoughts.
But let’s just take this on the smallest level we could talk about, think about observing and noticing your own thoughts. How often do you do that? While you’re just in the middle of your day, at one point, I want you to have that experience of pausing, noticing what your brain is doing.
What are you thinking? Are you just thinking about getting something done? Is it task focused? Is it judgment oriented? Is it about some future possibility? Is it a regret from the past? Is it a worry or an anxiety?
Your brain is doing this 100% of the time, I guarantee it’s nearly impossible to quiet one’s brain so no thought is happening.
As you’re having those thoughts, I wonder what some of the most common thoughts are that you have?
I remember from long ago, sitting in a church meeting as a young person. As I sat there, I thought about a lot of things. And I noticed that the people around me had no idea what I was thinking about. Maybe this was one of those early moments where I started to notice my thoughts were private. Did you ever notice that to yourself? How old were you when that happened?
Well, as we get older and older, we take that for granted. And we stop thinking about it so much. One of the things that is most powerful to me is noticing the kind of thoughts I have, as I think about my thoughts on a regular basis, I can catch faulty thinking.
Identify Faulty Thinking.
And when I say faulty thinking, I’m talking all about those thoughts that don’t help very much. Faulty thinking can be things like all-or-nothing thinking. Like I can be preparing for something at work and think it has to go 100% right.
Or it has to go, in my opinion, 100% right.
It doesn’t mean that other people are going to think it went right. In fact, one’s definition of right is going to vary from person to person.
The more I noticed and observed my thoughts, the more I can catch those kinds of thoughts when they’re going astray.
As soon as we notice our thoughts, we can just get curious about them and kind of listen, almost like it’s a track of information passing through.
As we notice those thoughts, we can really take charge of them and speak to them.
Some thoughts are very helpful. Some just are crazy wild thoughts. For example, I remember being on the top of the top floor of Cougar Stadium, which is at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. And I looked over the edge when I was working one day, and I thought, you know, I would bet that it might be cool to jump off. It would not be cool to land at the bottom.
And as that thought passed through my brain, I remember just kicking it out, throwing it away. It was not a useful thought, because landing at the bottom was a bad idea.
So I just walked away and did something else.
We have thoughts that enter our brains all the time, and I’m not so sure we can control whether those thoughts come in or not.
What we can do is notice them, be aware of them, and then decide what do we want to think. Whatever pops into our heads might come on its own. But we can intentionally think certain thoughts that are very helpful to us.
For example, when we’re nervous or upset or worried, maybe we have to give a speech or a presentation. And we have all these thoughts piled up about how it’s going to go.
We could be thinking, this is going to be a failure, I’m going to mess up, I’m going to stutter, I’m going to stammer, I’m going to trip over my words, I’m going to forget what I want to say, and I’m going to look bad.
And then we can interrupt those thoughts in the minute those start happening. We can choose to think something else, we can grab on to some experience we had in the past that did go better.
And we can grab those thoughts and just decide to think them instead, like I’ve been good at this in the past, it might go really well, there’s a good chance that I know what I’m doing. We could grab on to healthy thoughts like that and feed them to ourselves as much as we like, and intentionally think them to give ourselves confidence moving forward.
So even though thoughts might come into our minds without our invitation, whether they stay there or not. That’s our choice, right? So, we can interrupt thoughts that we don’t like, and we can redirect them.
Thought Patterns Can Become Road Blocks, like Imposter Phenomenon.
A lot of people I have coached have suffered from this situation that I like to call imposter phenomenon. Many people call this impostor syndrome. I don’t like that phrase so much because imposter syndrome as a title sort of implies we can’t do anything about it, it’s something we’re going to be stuck with.
What happens with impostor syndrome is that we have these thoughts about ourselves that are unrealistic, perhaps we have achieved a lot. And now we have an opportunity to be in a good role where we can use all those talents and skills, maybe it’s a high ranking job or something like that.
With imposter phenomenon, we get into this weird space of thinking that we don’t really know anything that we need to know for the job that we’re supposed to be doing. So, we second guess ourselves, we undercut our success, we do things to make ourselves fail.
And it’s bizarre how we do this, that this sense that we don’t really belong, we don’t feel settled, we’re not really competent.
It’s that imposter phenomenon, where we don’t really have a good sense of ourselves.
This can happen a lot when we let those uninvited thoughts into our brains that undercut our success, all those self-doubting thoughts. And we have to really go back often and grab onto other evidence that refutes those mental blocks. The more we can do that, the better. I have an example of this.
Recently, I performed on my trumpet in a meeting, and I have been playing the trumpet for more than 40 years. There has been a period of time where I was not practicing my instrument very much. So I suppose you could assume that I would not be very confident, getting that trumpet out and trying to brush up on my skills.
One of the things that particularly vexed me was playing a lot of high notes. So approaching that moment when I was going to perform.
As the weeks got closer and closer, I started to give myself a lot of evidence that would help me support a solid performance. I started telling myself positive evidence from the past, even though it was 25, or 30 years ago, I talked about in my brain.
I told myself, when I was in college, I used to practice three and a half hours a day. That’s true. I did used to practice three and a half hours a day. And in doing that, I gave myself all kinds of solid, reliable foundational skills.
I was very, very good at playing my trumpet. And I could lean on that, in a moment of doubt, even though it was years and years ago, it’s truth. And I even have recordings of myself from that time period where I sound great.
And I can play that trumpet music to myself and hear it and regain my confidence.
Another thing I could do, if I’m having some self-doubt around that, is just build a solid practice schedule, and keep my appointment with myself every day for several weeks. And the more I do that, the more I can look at that consistent work that I’m putting in. And I can honestly rely on it.
I can tell myself; you know what, I’ve, I’ve done this regularly. I’ve worked at it, I’m ready to go. And if I make some mistakes, well, that could happen. mistakes can happen, whether I’m playing my trumpet, or giving a speech, or just showing up for work. We can all have mistakes, right?
The more I give up that all or nothing thinking, the more I have a space to explore other evidence, refute that imposter syndrome and feel some more confidence.
Learn to Notice Your Thoughts, and Weed Some Out.
So, if I were to give anyone a gift, and suggest the best skill that we could possibly have to develop confidence self-worth, and a forward moving direction, it would be to notice our thoughts, toss out the thoughts that don’t really help. Let them go.
They’re going to enter your brain all the time, anytime of day, we all have thoughts that really are not helpful to us. And go ahead and just remind them to leave.
Let them go. And invite something else, like evidence from the past or a record of your solid performance over time. And recommend that to yourself as evidence that those thoughts are wrong.
You can do it, you can hang in there, you can get through it.
Now, if you do make mistakes, if you do fail, well, that’s part of life, right? We can’t guarantee anything’s going to be perfect.
But we can go into it feeling more confident, more focused, or centered around thoughts that are healthy and productive for us.
I hope that you will take these ideas and run with them this coming week. And notice your thoughts, see what comes in what goes out and invite those thoughts that you really want to have there. If you would like to take it a little further, and really explore what some of your most common thoughts are, and how to turn those into even more self-productive promoting kind of thoughts that are going to bring you to the place you want to be in the future, I would be happy to work with you.
Please reach out through my website, Dr. B coach.com. I’m currently inviting new members to my group coaching program and I would love to work with you. Thank you for being here. Here’s to the best version of you this coming week.
This season’s theme song is “Training Day,” by Infraction. Used with Permission.
Like what you read here? In this podcast, I’m sharing some core principles I’ve learned in coaching that have completely changed my life. These ideas restore personal power and bring the confidence to grow in our unique traits, strengths, and attributes, and go forward to create good in the world. Right here, you have the gems to take one small step. And with a personal coach, you can make it a lasting part of your life. You can change how you see things and feel your true purpose every day.