Great teachers from all cultures and religions have shared at least one common message and that is the power that our thoughts have on our lives. Our thoughts direct our perspective on our experiences – why some people see the glass half empty and others half full, for example. Our thoughts become, over time, our beliefs, and the thoughts that we become emotionally involved with affect how we feel, which in turn affects how we act and the results we achieve.
It may sound overly simple to state that our thoughts form our beliefs, but when you start to reflect on your beliefs it becomes clear that a belief truly is just a thought that we think a lot. So what, then, if you started thinking different thoughts? And felt that they were the truth? Believed them? Therein lies the ‘real work’ when it comes to changing our mindsets. And that starts with changing our thoughts.
You may have heard ‘we become what we think about’. Let’s unpack that a little and explore how to start thinking thoughts about what we want to become. If you look up how many thoughts we have a day, it’s somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000. That’s a lot of thoughts and we’re clearly not becoming all of them! And that’s probably a good thing since another piece of the puzzle based on the neuroscience and psychology research is that a whopping number of these thoughts are negative – up to 80% even! We have evolved for survival and in modern days train ourselves to be ‘problem solvers’ so while that’s not really surprising, we also aren’t being chased by saber-toothed tigers anymore – and I’m not an astronaut in space going through a checklist of what might kill me next. All those negative thoughts are no longer really helping improve our overall chances of survival, and definitely not helping us thrive.
Two other interesting pieces of the thought puzzle is how many of today’s thoughts are the same as yesterdays (recycled thoughts, and not good news if so many of them were negative), and how few we are actually conscious of. We are only conscious of 5-10% of the thoughts we have. Seems incredible, doesn't it! Our subconscious mind is responsible for 90-95% of our thoughts…and so then it is our subconscious mind that is in control of 90-95% of our actions.
A lot of these subconscious thoughts and habits serve us well! Remember how much focus was required when you first learned to drive a car? Now I drive the car on ‘auto pilot’ while I listen to music, think about my next meeting, or referee a backseat argument the kids are having. Ever left your home and ended up on the wrong route out because that’s your regular route…thank you subconscious mind for keeping us safe! Similarly, no one has to walk you thought your morning routine anymore…shower, put clothes on (and keep them on!), eat breakfast, sip coffee, lock the door, etc. etc. If you have children – even teens – you know conscious attention to getting out the door in the morning is still required. And then it becomes a habit running in the background by our subconscious mind. Thank you again!
At the same time most of us have subconscious thoughts and habits that DO NOT serve us well. Thoughts about success, friendship, love, money, health, beauty, etc.. These sound like personal issues – and they are – but the impact of our thoughts and beliefs about these area of our life affect how we perform in our businesses, in meetings with prospects and clients as well. And do you know what it comes down to for so many people? Not feeling good enough. Not feeling like they are worth more. If you want more in your life – and your should because more and better success, friendship, love, money, health, beauty means that you are growing as a person – you need to change the subconscious programming that DOES NOT serve this growth.
So here is where we get to the analogy of the mind as a garden – not a new analogy but such useful, and practical imagery.
“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds”. Unknown
Use this to start changing what is planted in your mind garden. Are there weeds in there right now? You bet – and some of them have been growing there for a long time. Be kind to yourself as you work to pull these weeds out. Most likely it won’t happen in one tug – there will be more weeding to do to get that tap root! Are there also beautiful flowers growing there? You bet – and you want to appreciate them and be proud of what you have created! And then get to work planting more amazing beauty. Just like a new seed in your garden, planting a new thought requires tending. The water, sun and nutrients in the soil are the goal cards, power statements, affirmations and visualizations that allow it to grow.
Here's how it can go. When the negative thought comes in, perhaps something like:
you're heading into a meeting and you think… ‘I’d better not screw this one up like the last time’…
you're heading out on a date and you think… ‘What’s the point, there are no nice men / women out there anymore…’
notice it and ask yourself ‘do I want this?’ If the answer is no, see yourself pulling that thought out of our mind as you would a weed. And now…here’s the critical next step: REPLACE that thought with what you DO want right away, because an empty spot in the garden doesn’t stay empty for long, and chances are another weed will find its way in.
your thought about the meeting becomes… ‘I’m prepared and confident. I can’t wait to share my presentation at this meeting!’
your thoughts about the date become… “I love meeting new people! There are so many great people out there and I can’t wait to meet the one who is right for me”.
Can you feel how different these statements are? Imagine how differently you would act in the meeting, or on the date, thinking these thoughts?
“We’re comparing the mind to the land, because the mind, like the land, doesn’t care what you plant in it. It will return what you plant, but it doesn’t care what you plant”. Earl Nightingale
Your mind, like the earth, will grow what you plant it in - whatever that is. It’s up to YOU to choose and to care for what you plant. Start thinking different, beautiful thoughts…and work each day to nourish them, to build your belief. Because this IS the ‘real work’ when it comes to changing our mindsets.