Our thoughts create our reality. It’s a provocative idea, isn’t it? Every time I hear it, I also hear “You are what you eat” in my head. The statements have something in common: we are in control.
In Episode 92 of our Uniquely Brilliant podcast*, Diana Bader and I talk about You Get What You Think About. This is one of my favorite episodes. I hope you take the time to listen to it. P.S. Clicking on the link will take you straight to the podcast on YouTube – you don’t have to install anything to hear it.
Whether you think you can or can’t…you’re right. – Henry Ford
If you think about it, our brain is our most sophisticated defense mechanism. It warns us of danger (many times inaccurately); it arranges our experiences so we can evaluate and retrieve them; it decides what we notice and what we ignore, and it changes our reactions based on our thoughts.
Our Brains Are Picky
There’s this part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System. It picks and chooses what we pay attention to. For instance, it knows to ignore soft music while we’re sleeping but wakes us at the sound of a particular child crying. Several years ago I worked at the front desk of a hair salon. I saw dozens of women come in with one hair color, and leave with another. I realized that I was noticing hair color more and more. Repeated exposure to hair coloring had trained my brain to notice it.
We can also intentionally train our brains to recognize our thought patterns and change them. When we create a gratitude practice, we are training our brains to recognize the good things that happen to us. As we continue to practice recognizing when good things happen – perhaps by paying closer attention to behaviors and opportunities that we experience – our brains automatically look for things to be grateful for. Our brains are plastic, they are changed by what we feed them.
Click here to hear more on this topic.
Lately, I’ve had several clients who are struggling to find a job. And, as most of us do when we can’t get what we want, they are deciding to settle on the first job they are offered. Here’s the problem. It’s really hard to get the job we want when we’re desperate. Our internal monologue consists solely of berating ourselves for not having the right skills, connections, patience, foresight, or any of 100 things that would guarantee we could find that right job.
Silence the Monologue
That internal monologue convinces us to settle. It changes our brains, it changes our energy, and suddenly the universe manifests jobs that are sub-par for us. Unfortunately, it’s not just a matter of talking over those voices. We have to wrestle with our brain and squelch those thoughts because our brain defaults to searching for memories that validate whatever we are thinking. Whatever we are thinking. Yikes!
If we’re thinking, “I’m not good enough, I’ll never get another job,” our brain brings up memories of when we weren’t good enough. If we’re thinking, “I’ll never get a good job again,” we repel the good jobs – literally push them away from us. We manifest that we’re not good enough. And there’s no room for progress and positive energy to enter our brains.
Create Your Own Reality
Luckily for all of us, there are strategies we can deploy to overcome these thoughts. We can train our brains to focus on what we already have and what we want. We can use strategies to change our thought patterns about our value at work or at home, like creating and using a win jar. As we practice those strategies, we literally change the way our brains work. We also change the energy we put out into the world.
When we say to ourselves that we’re not good enough or that we don’t have what it takes to get to the next place, it seeps out through our pores. Then, as we practice acknowledging and being grateful what we’ve done and are doing right, our energy shifts, too. These positive thoughts manifest new connections, both people and ideas, and new opportunities. I’ve seen it happen over and over.
Deploy Your 5 Senses
So, what do we do if we have to get out into the world for interviews or interactions with other humans before we’ve nailed our positive thoughts practice? We can use sensory strategies to bolster those positive thoughts. We can listen to our favorite music on the way to an interview; we can wear our favorite clothes, or have our favorite beverage on our drive. We can wrap ourselves in a sensory bath of our favorite things to ground us so we walk into the next situation as ourselves instead of a desperate version of ourselves.
Oh, and we can avoid a real trap – being alone with our thoughts – by making sure we have something that distracts us as we make our way toward that appointment. I’ve been known to call clients as they drive to an interview and play music like Pharrell William’s Happy, or Let It Go in their ears. Then I check to make sure they’re smiling and laughing. It usually carries them into the interview.
Whether you identify with “thoughts become things,” or “our thoughts become our reality,” or “we get what we ask for,” it all boils down to working to own our power over our reality.
So, I’ll leave you with my reality. Each of you who takes the time to read this blog or listens to our podcast manifests my belief in building community through my coaching. I thank you for that.
We are ferocious,