This simple thinking technique will have you feeling like Neo and change your life trajectory
If you’re getting the same kind of unwanted results, that’s a sign your thinking and feeling need a look at.
When we’re in situations that make us feel negative emotions, it’s so easy to slip into default mode.
We end up thinking about what we usually do, feeling what we usually do, and as a result getting similar results as before.
So when we get these familiar results we need to ask ourselves, are we being intentional and conscious in how we act? Or are we merely emotionally reacting in knee jerk fashion?
We are not our thoughts
If we want to break out of our repetitive reactionary loops we must make a point to examine our thinking and feeling and most importantly of all, separate it from ourselves.
Realizing that we are actually not the thoughts that we have but are actually the observers of the thoughts is the beginning of the process of us taking back some control of our thinking, our feelings, and therefore our actions.
We are the sky, the observer, while the weather is our thoughts.
Taking back control
When we’re faced with a given circumstance, rather than fall into the familiar thinking of “I am..(insert emotion),” we can instead act as the observer and label the emotion instead and pin it to a thought.
So as an example, “I am angry" turns into “I am having a thought that is making me feel angry".
Without this labeling, we’re stuck in the emotion and as a result we’re only going to act out of that emotion, whether it’s good or bad, and with this example that would be anger and yes that is going to be bad.
But by labeling in such a way where we separate ourselves from the thought and the linked emotion, we are neutral and can actually begin to just allow the unwanted thought and its linked emotions to pass by, just like a rainy cloud.
Now this may take a moment or two to happen, but it will happen if you give yourself a little time and space to detach.
I always find deep breaths help with exhales that are longer than inhales. This gets us into the parasympathetic nervous system and helps us tap into a recovery-like mode which is just what we need when our thoughts are trying their best to race in the other direction.
It will be more challenging at first when you try to pull away from your thoughts and center yourself like this but with repetition and enough time, you’ll start to get used to it and become a person of calmness and control, consciously making small smart decisions.
As a result, you’ll be stepping away from being a reactive, out of control, unconscious chaotic decision maker and taking back the steering wheel of your life.
Changing course to a new destination using principles
But this is just part of the work. The second half is to actually drive your thinking and feeling with new productive, intentional thoughts that are designed to be aligned with your principles or values.
I use the words, values and principles interchangeably. They are in essence, the timeless rules that we have chosen that will guide us in good times and bad. Ideally, we’ll have a handful of these principles that will help shape our behaviour in our work, play and relationships with others.
So then, whenever we’ve managed to stop ourselves from running away with our default negative thoughts, we can then consciously begin to think on our principles-based thoughts and move in a positive direction.
So here are the ways we move from default thinking, feeling and acting and into being proactive, taking conscious control of our thoughts and making sure we align ourselves with our principles.
1. Observe your thoughts. Realize you are not your thoughts but the observer by using labels.
2. Detach from your thoughts. Let them pass by using deep breathing.
3. Insert new productive thoughts. Choose thoughts that are aligned to your principles.
Give it a try the next time you’re faced with a challenging circumstance.