You may remember at the beginning of all this I recommended that you become kindly curious about your thinking? What have you noticed? What do you think of the thoughts you’re having? Thoughts are so interesting. We have so many of them, all day long. I want to write about how true these thoughts actually seem when we’re thinking them. Or, your thoughts vs. facts.
The skill I want to offer you, the idea I want you to think about, is that many of the thoughts you have are just that, thoughts, or opinions. That doesn’t make them bad or wrong at all. It just means that they aren’t facts. Why is knowing this important? How is it helpful? Because there is one person and only one person who gets to decide what you choose to think…and that’s you.
Before you can reap the benefits of this skill, it’s going to take some practice. Let’s expand on what it is that you’ll want to do.
Write down, or at least make a clear mental note, of the thoughts you’re having throughout the day. Take a look at them. What I want you to do next is to see if you can sort your thoughts into categories of “thoughts” and “facts.”
When you first start doing this most of your thoughts are going to seem like facts. But take a closer look. You’ll begin to find that there are plenty of thoughts we all have that aren’t factual. They aren’t absolute. They’re thoughts, opinions, or perspectives.
Let’s say you’re drilling into the jawbone to place an implant. You’ve done it before, but the procedure is complex and you’re concentrating precisely to avoid vital structures. The thought, “This is hard” comes into your mind. Ask yourself if that is a thought or a fact.
I purposely chose a scenario that many of you have told me is time and thought intensive. I did that because even in highly complex situations that many people would agree are “hard,” there are still other people who would say that it isn’t. Someone who has completed the same task 400 times might have a very different thought while doing the procedure than the doctor who is doing it for the 4th time. In fact, the “400-time guy” wouldn’t even agree that it is hard anymore.
And, let’s be clear, it’s not that the procedure became any less intense over the course of 400 jawbone drillings! That part has always been serious. It’s that over the course of time, through gaining experience, the more experienced person has different thoughts about the activity. The person has changed, not the procedure.
You’re at the store, you have a question about some merchandise, and the lady that you’re hoping will be able to help you is…less than excited to help you. She sharply answers your first question and brushes you off before you are able to ask any follow-ups. As she walks away you think, “she’s rude.”
Is she? Is she a rude person? Do the people that know her better than you agree that she belongs in a category of “rude people?” Or is there something more to this situation that you missed? Maybe even something you couldn’t have caught?
I want you to notice that the thoughts, “this is hard,” and “she’s rude” take from you. Whether it’s 10 seconds, 10 minutes, or 10 hours, but they take from you time and lightness. Those thoughts don’t feel nearly as good as “I know exactly how to do this,” or, “sometimes I am too swamped to answer questions, too, I hope she has a productive day.”
The beauty here, the thing I want to share with you, is that thoughts are not the same as facts. Facts are things that we’d all agree on: The house has 12 windows, the building is black.
Most often assessments of situations and things are much more thought-heavy than they are fact-heavy. Which is great! Because you get to decide. How do you want to think about that thing? How do you want to think about that person? Are the thoughts you’re choosing offering you the inner peace and energy that you want? Do you like the way your thoughts feel?
For me, when I don’t like the way a thought feels, I quit thinking it. It’s like an immediate level-up. And that advancement is available to you, too. I highly recommend you take me up on it, especially if you’re in discomfort because of thoughts about a certain person or situation.
Try this one out. Make a conscious decision to stop thinking a thought that doesn’t feel good. It takes practice to notice and interrupt your thinking, but it is worth it.
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