“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
We all have a radio playing in our heads. But you have to ask…am I tuned to the right station?
I call this the Yadda Yadda radio and you need to change the channel fast.
Too many of us are tuned to the wrong station.
We hear negative voices fueled by fear, uncertainty or worry for the future. We self-talk ourselves out of things instead of giving ourselves positive affirmations about the future.
The negative voices we hear are the source of most of our fears and anxieties.
These voices tell us things like, “You’re not smart, not capable, or you should know better.”
These voices hold us back from being bold, taking more risks, asking for what we want, or simply believing we can make positive changes in our life.
It can be hard defining who’s doing the talking until you consider the source. You may be hearing your parents, teachers, well-meaning friends, or bosses who thought they knew what was good for you.
Our minds are tricksters, convincing us things are real when it’s really our imaginations on overdrive.
We fear the worst, and we create drama in our lives to match our feelings. This justifies our behavior, quantifies our circumstances, and supports buying into the stories we tell ourselves.
Negative thoughts manifest as:
- Frantic impatience
- Utter exhaustion
- Emotional paralysis
- Feeling out of control
The truth is many are invested in staying in stuck places.
They get attention when they complain, or when they feel that circumstances are working against them. It gives an excuse to give in, give up, or simply put up with whatever it is that’s not working. I’m sure you know people like that.
Here’s what I know to be true.
If we never take risks we will fail to get what we want.
You can always blame it on circumstances. You can ignore the signals that demand you make different choices. You can believe that what you think about yourself is true, or you can examine other possibilities.
CHANGE YOUR THINKING
In a recent study, researchers at University College London found that repetitive negative thinking is linked to cognitive decline, and a greater risk of dementia.
Depression and anxiety are root causes of mental decline in people 55 and over.
During the last few years there has been a lot of negative thinking for good reasons, but if you use the news as your guide to what you should be worried about, it won’t help you to move forward.
The news channels offer fear-based thinking which may be the flavor of the day, but it’s still negative and it can harm your brain.
“I think therefore I am.” – Descartes
Freud was one of the first psychologists to define the mind as an iceberg.
We are only aware of the top part, our conscious mind. What is submerged below our conscious mind is the unconscious, a mass of thoughts, feelings, urges and memories that are the drivers of our conscious mind.
“I think therefore I feel” is generally where this goes.
The feelings are brought to the surface by events, circumstances, relationships, and the everyday challenges we encounter.
The stress of continual bad news cycles keeps the worry levels high. It’s hard to be positive under such circumstances.
It’s essential we find the bright spots because our mental health is key to our mental wealth.
In Dr. Martin Seligman’s book Learned Optimism, he tells the story of his own depression and how he began to recognize and challenge pessimistic thinking to develop more positive behaviors.
He believed that in normal circumstances, depression is learned helplessness, and by developing optimism you can consciously challenge your negative self.
LIFE IS CHANGE
Less than 2% of the world’s population makes a conscious effort to change. Most of the time change happens by circumstance.
So how do you identify the stories that are holding you back and train yourself to be more positive?
How do you tune into the mindset that propels you forward?
Simply put. We must question our thinking, and be willing to challenge the negativity with a simple question. Is it true?
You may think your negative thinking is true, but do you have evidence of that, or is simply you draining your mental bank account with an overdrawn sense of worthlessness?
We have more control over our minds than we think we do!
Change has been the biggest driver of my life, whether I invited it in or not!
Through several decades of unsparing change, I have consistently been challenged to change, and while I may have resisted at times, it has always been clear that the only way through is to figure out how to do life differently – how to think differently.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Change means facing our limitations, our feelings of inadequacy, and our belief that we may not be good enough. It means challenging a state of mind that impacts the quality of our life.
To change, you must let go of limited thinking, and confront the behaviors that are not serving your best interests. Letting go of what doesn’t serve you is your journey of discovery.
We spend our lives looking for answers, but what if you spent your life looking for the right questions. What do you think would happen?
It takes courage to look yourself in the mirror and ask:
- What do I need to do differently?
- Who do I want to become?
- What will I need to do to make my life different from what it is today?
- What is the best way forward?
- Where do I stand in my own way?
- What do I need to change to live the life I imagine I want for myself?
- What does a good life look like?
To make changes that stick, you must be prepared to dig deeply and find what matters most to you. You must believe in yourself and be willing to do the work to become the better version of you.
TRANSFORMATION IS POSSIBLE
To transform yourself, you need to redefine your relationship to uncertainty.
Build greater resilience by being willing to endure the discomfort that will occur as part of the change process.
You must be willing to take a deep dive into the areas that need to change by asking yourself the questions you may want to avoid.
As I cheerfully tell my clients, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” It’s how we change for the better.
When you no longer see the benefits of remaining in your place of anxiety and stress you are ready to begin an adventure of discovering other choices and other outcomes.
Choice is an option. When you don’t choose, you are making a choice.
Next time you hear a negative voice in your head question its source.
Ask yourself who is doing the talking. Is there a familiar sound to that voice?
If you can name it, you can change it.
Decline the invitation to complain.
Decline the invitation to blame.
Decline the temptation to just give in or give up.
Tune into a different station!
Choose to take another approach. Choose positivity and strengthen your ability to trust yourself.
Embrace change and break through the noise of anxiety and stress that keeps you in uncertainty and confusion.