Does changing your thoughts really change your life? I’m going to give you all a ‘hell yes’, right now! Talking about your thoughts, who would have thought it would be such a huge and increasingly popular topic. What I am going to write about here are not original ideas or concepts, I’m simply sharing what I have learnt and voicing the value of what I have found in becoming aware of my thoughts. We’ve all heard about mindfulness and mindset, so it all sounds simple enough right? Well it’s not, so I hope you keep reading this to the end.
Let’s start by determining what the experts define our thoughts as: ‘Thoughts are mental cognitions—our ideas, opinions, and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. They include the perspectives we bring to any situation or experience that colour our point of view’.
Other definitions are much simpler. Some say thoughts are simply things, but they can be powerful things. The very thoughts running through your mind can help to manifest the life of your dreams, or draw you closer to your greatest fears. But most people don’t realize the inherent power of their thoughts.
According to Neuroscientists we are aware of only a tiny fraction of the thinking that goes on in our minds, and we can control only a tiny part of our conscious thoughts. The vast majority of our thinking efforts goes on subconsciously. Only one or two of these thoughts are likely to breach into consciousness at a time. The average person has about 48.6 thoughts per minute, that adds up to a total of 70,000 thoughts per day.
For many of us a large number of our thoughts are not helpful, they are not kind and more often than not they aren’t true. It is these unwanted thoughts that we need to become conscious of and work out a way to shift the power and start controlling them, not the other way around.
One thing I was surprised to discover was the impact these thoughts were having on my day to day life and I wasn’t even aware of it. Of course the big one is how your thoughts affect your relationship with yourself. Does anyone actually look at themselves in the mirror and say: ‘I am amazing, look how flawless and fabulous I am, no wrinkles, no excess flab, simply perfect in every way’. Not me and certainly no one I know. Our thoughts immediately go to self-criticism: ‘look how old I’m looking, time for some Botox; I need to start drinking less my belly is bulging; I’m useless; I’m not worthy; how could anyone love me’. I bet a few of these are resonating with you right now, and you’re not alone. We aren’t even aware of it, some people call this your inner voice, your inner mean girl or inner critic. What it is essentially though are your thoughts.
They also affect your relationship with others, your work life and the success of achieving your goals. When you are dealing with overwhelm at work, where do your thoughts tend to go? I’m going to guess if you are anything like me they went something like this: ‘I can’t cope, I’m useless at this, I need a new job, I’m just not cut out for this, it’s hopeless, I’m hopeless’. Imagine just for a minute, if we stopped those thoughts in their tracks and flipped them. What if we decided to replace them with thoughts like: ‘I just need a plan to get through this, I’m a great problem solver, I know there is a lot to do, but I just have to get started’. That is what the experts call a mindset shift, essentially you decide to change your thoughts.
And yes it can be done! You can consciously decide to change your thoughts. Here is a strategy that has helped me become not only conscious of my thoughts but also take control of them. Next time you have some intrusive or unwanted thoughts ask yourself these three questions:
1) Are they true?
2) Are they helpful?
3) Are they kind?
If the answer is no, you need to let them go and consciously choose a new thought. What you’ll find when you start doing this is that the same thoughts keep repeating themselves, they are a pattern or habit stuck in your sub conscious. I’m certainly no expert, but I can honestly attest to the value of this exercise, it was life changing for me. According to many experts taking back control of your mind is a character strength that improves the quality of your life.
It is especially valuable if you are someone who has a ‘victim’ or a ‘poor me’ mindset. Your thoughts will turn to: ‘this always happens to me, why does this happen to me, nothing good comes to me, everything is so hard for me’. These type of thoughts are explosive in conflict situations, because your thoughts are only on you and not on the other person’s needs. Generally the conflict is nothing to do with you, but in that victim mindset you always find a way to make the situation about you. I too very much had a victim mindset at different times. When I find myself slipping back into those thoughts, I stop making things about me, I turn to gratitude and I listen really listen to what is happening right in front of me, not what my thoughts want me to focus on. Have I lost you? It can be a hard concept to grasp, and to be honest I have read, researched and listen to so many things about the topic of thoughts, thinking and mindset. I will share in our property management community on Facebook (INSERT LINK) some of the resources including Podcasts and Books I have benefitted from.
Over the years I have found that there is a common thread in the mindset of the vast majority of property managers I have worked with, disclaimer of course not all. There seems to be a very negative thought pattern running through their collective DNA. And it is no wonder why. They are dealing with negativity day in day out, rarely does anyone, from landlord’s and tenant’s to principals or team leaders, ever tell them what a great job they are doing or pat them on the back. In reality, the vast majority of a Property Managers work is positive, but it seems to have become an industry where only the negative things are highlighted. ‘Why wasn’t I told about that leaking tap’; ‘why didn’t you give me the correct notice’; ‘why is that invoice still overdue’; ‘why didn’t you send the entry notice’, I’m sure you can all relate. With so much negativity in your workplace, compiled with the baggage you are already carrying from your childhood and life’s experiences, it is totally understandable why many property managers thoughts or mindsets would be distorted.
So, this is where I believe, you have the opportunity to shift the balance of power with your thoughts. Now that you are aware, you can continue to get through life with your thoughts dictating whether or not you are going to have a good or a bad day, or you can take control of them. You can choose to stop being a victim, you can choose to stop waiting for other people to make you happy or validate you, because you are honestly enough, and you can live the life you have always dreamt of, by simply thinking differently. How easy is that!!!
Here are the top tips experts share about controlling your thoughts:
1. Be aware. Be prepared
2. Name it – When you are stuck in negativity, and feel yourself falling into dark thoughts, stop the cycle by naming it.
3. Fear is illogical
4. Erase and Replace
5. Do a reality check
6. Present Moment Mindfulness
7. It’s your choice
One of my favourite sayings, not an original, but it has stuck with me: ‘things happen for me, not to me’. There’s always a lesson to learn and a teacher willing to teach, embracing that my friends is the greatest thought or mindset of all.