In my last post, I mentioned the epiphany I had after I wrote down all my thoughts about a weekend situation that caused a lot of stress for me and my family. To read that post, go here to read about our buzzingly crazy 😉 adventure!
Let me talk to you briefly about how I used to view my life and the stressful situations that would arise. First, I would panic. Then I would feel guilty about panicking, so I would resist the panic, which would cause me to feel worse about what was happening and the stressful situation was only made worse because I was so freaked out that I couldn’t resolve anything! Sound familiar?
What I discovered after studying mind management is that you do not have to be a slave to your emotions. I learned that you have a choice about how you want to feel and react, and I use a specific process to help me manage my emotions. As a result of this process, I now am able to step out of the stress and not just react without thinking first.
The first step to complete what is called a “thought download“. I will explain how to do this in more detail, so you can try it. A thought download looks a bit like a diary or journal entry, but is different in that you only focus on writing down the one-liner thoughts that are rolling around in your head at the present moment. This is not the time to write the story about your day or your dreams for your life ahead, this is the time to actively observe your brain.
A bit of a warning: observing your thoughts can be scary. But –
RESIST THE URGE TO FILTER OR CHANGE ANY OF YOUR THOUGHTS BEFORE YOU WRITE THEM DOWN.
Thought downloads are a stream of consciousness, and the point is see into the dark corners of your mind and flesh out all of your negative self talk and unhelpful thoughts.
Once you have completed the thought download, go through your thoughts and see which ones are acting like poison in your life or are unhelpful or stress inducing. Try to find which thoughts are causing your reaction and feelings during the stressful situation. Not only will this identify the thoughts that are causing the negative feelings, but it also helps me feel better to get all those thoughts down on paper.
What I learned is that OUR THOUGHTS ARE CAUSING OUR FEELINGS; our feelings are NOT caused by the situation.
Using that idea, we can move closer to feeling better by then actively deciding which thought you want to think about the situation. Here’s an example:
SITUATION (CIRCUMSTANCE): My infant son wakes up 4-5 times a night. (This is true!)
THOUGHT: There is something wrong with him and I can’t function with this little sleep.
EMOTION: despair and misery
As you can see, this thought is not helpful for me to have. My son waking up at night is something I can not control, but I can control what I think about it.
Here’s how I altered my NEGATIVE thought to a more NEUTRAL one that I could believe:
CIRCUMSTANCE: my infant son wakes up 4-5 a night.
THOUGHT: My son is healthy and I am ok.
EMOTIONS: gratitude, calmness and acceptance
I have been making it a habit to alter my thoughts to more positive ones on a regular basis in regards to challenging parenting situations and as a result, I am less stressed and have more energy. I am also kinder and more patient with my kids. Now I am still practicing this process and sometimes slip into my old habits but I feel so much better knowing that –
I am not a victim to my circumstance and I can control MY THOUGHTS.
Come back next Friday for part 2 of the blog post to see how our feelings have the biggest impact on our overall success and happiness in life!