We wanted to give you an insight around thoughts and feelings today and we encourage you to really take this one on board as it can literally change the way you are feeling in an instant!
Thoughts create feelings. Feelings can create actions. Actions create outcomes. Outcomes create new thoughts. Repeat. Just ponder on that for a moment and re-read it. It’s really important to understand.
OK, got that? Let’s move on then and define a term we often use called "Self Talk."
Your self talk is that little voice inside your head that provides a commentary on your life. It’s the internal verbalisation of your thoughts. Some people have quite a loud voice, others softer, but we all have it. Becoming mindful and aware of your self talk is a key element to what we will be teaching in this insight.
One way to become very aware is to notice your self talk and reflect on how useful it is to you. People often describe a sensation of almost listening to yourself talking.
If you picture what this “looks like” in the theatre of your mind, it could be the “enlightened and higher you” sitting on a magic carpet watching and listening to everything your mind is doing. You are entirely detached from everything and able to observe and commentate if necessary on what’s happening.
Think about this for a moment. Can you picture this process happening? If you can’t , re-read what we’re saying so you completely understand it and then try again. This is one of the most important steps to becoming mindful and for some is a revelation!
I like to picture myself looking in a state of complete relaxation, peace and calm on my magic carpet. I’m sitting there cross legged in a beautiful blue sky, deep in the recesses of my psyche, looking very Zen!
So back to your self talk. Whilst sitting on your magic carpet, observing your thoughts and feelings, if you catch your self talk and thoughts becoming destructive or negative, pause for a moment. If they are positive reflect on that too.
If you’d prefer that they were positive and you recognise negative self talk happening, simply acknowledge it and say something to yourself like “oh - there I go again” and then allow the thoughts and discussion to change to something more empowering.
Have you ever experienced a time when you’ve chastised yourself using your internal dialogue / self talk? As you become more mindful you may see this happening frequently and it’s one of the keys to changing how you are feeling.
So all of these thoughts tap into the emotional side of your brain and trigger the neurons associated with feelings. Feelings are produced by the firing of specific sets of nerve clusters in the Amygdala which is part of the Limbic system in your brain.
The Limbic system is fascinating. I got the following definition from Google:
LIMBIC SYSTEM: "a complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the edge of the cortex concerned with instinct and mood. It controls the basic emotions (fear, pleasure, anger) and drives (hunger, sex, dominance, care of offspring)."
So do your thoughts serve you in a positive way and fire the right sets of nerves in your Limbic System? If not, then it’s time to check in with yourself and start to gradually allow your focus to move from negative to positive thoughts.
Now it’s important to emphasise at this point that this is not just about positive affirmations. Some people advocate that simply saying “I feel good, I feel good, I feel good, I feel good, I feel good, I feel good, I feel good” is enough to create a change in state. This may work for some people, but it’s not the essence of what we are teaching.
One thing about affirmations is that you may be in a situation that is too complex to allow your intelligent / logical brain to translate the situation into feeling better. A more suitable way to change your state is to check in with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Let your current thoughts and feelings drift past you on your magic carpet as you observe them from your vantage point. Breathe deeply and start to migrate your thoughts to more constructive ways of interpreting any situation.
Another powerful way to reframe destructive self talk is to remove its significance by considering it to be like “mental or emotional weather.” If you find your brain is misbehaving and gravitating to less empowering self talk, consider the words to be like a storm passing. Observe the storm from your magic carpet. Sit there peacefully in the knowledge that weather is transient and shining sunshine is just round the corner!
This will in turn bring about different more positive feelings, which will create more empowering actions, which reinforces your thoughts and the cycle continues. This is probably best illustrated with an example.
I’m going to write two paragraphs and they are going to illustrate your internal dialogue. See if you relate to any of it and reflect on how each way of talking to yourself could bring about different overall feelings.
“What a shit day! Why does my alarm always fail to go off. I can’t believe I’m late again - I’m always bloody late! Missed my train, even after running. God, I’m shit at running too. It’s going to be one of those bad days, I just know it. Everything’s going wrong. I’ve got to face those people trying to block my ideas at work too. Why do they hate me so much. I need a new job, but I’ll never find one in this economy. What a shit day!"
OK - so I’ve turned on the taps to full here. I hope that none of you have conversations with yourself of this magnitude of destruction, but then some of you might! I’m chuckling to myself at how hard it was to write that, as I’ve been practicing mindfulness for some years now and it was difficult for me to come up with those words. It might be easier for you? Either way, I think you will see the point. Now let’s try another version.
"I love it when there’s mist in the mornings. Everything looks like an abstract painting and the moist air feels great in my lungs. I must remember to plug my phone in at night. I’ve missed my alarm this morning and I’d prefer not to let that happen again. I’ll buy another charger today and put it next to my bed. I think I’ll listen to that favourite album I’ve just found on the way to the station this morning to change my focus after this little setback. I’m not going to rush as I’m a little late already, but have called to let everyone know, so it’s no problem. It will give me time to think about how to get more buy in from my colleagues for my project. I think they must need more information as the ideas are sound. I’ll arrange some 121 meetings today to get some feedback on how things are going."
So there we are. It takes practice to transition from one way of thinking to another as a lot of what we do as humans is habitual.
I hope you’ve found this interesting. Here’s a simple little exercise to do to make sure you are more mindful of your self talk, focusing and feeling better! Try it and PLEASE let us know how you get on. We love to get feedback.
- Regularly check in with yourself and ensure that you are being kind to yourself and not beating yourself up with negative self talk.
- If you “Catch” disempowering chatter just reflect from the vantage point of your magic carpet and say something like “there I go again", and let it float past.
- Understand that there is ALWAYS a more positive way to reflect on any given situation.
- After it has passed, be creative in thinking of ways to change your focus. Either reframe the current negative situation in a more supportive and positive light, or consider some other situation that allows a change of focus and more positive internal evaluation of where you are. The vital bit is to get your self talk to reflect this using more positive and empowering words and phrases.
- Breathe and be kind to yourself.
This technique works best when combined with making changes in your physical state. We will discuss this in a future insight. :-)
Until next time.
#BeMindful & #respectyourtemple