Straight Up: A Thought is Not a Fact.
Never has been. Never will be. And yet, without any awareness or extra effort, we invariably turn a negative and self-defeating thought into a fait accompli. The most recent, from a client, “I just know I’m going to bomb up there on stage.” Really? Who said so (other than your lizard brain)?
In the words of Mark Twain, “Life does not consist mainly of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought that is forever flowing through one’s head.” So true. I now believe the difference between the truly successful and happy people in this world, and the struggling and bitter, is the ability to resist negative thoughts – about ourselves or others – before they morph into irrefutable realities.
I know I risk taking a very complex process and simplifying it to a ridiculous level when I suggest that if you are struggling with distorted thinking, you may want to practice distancing. When the thought pops into your head – “I’m a terrible public speaker, I’m going to fail miserably , in front of my boss, and will probably get fired,” try stopping the gnarly weed before it takes root by stepping back, looking at it from a distance and think to yourself, “Hmm…this negative thought is trying to invade my belief system. I’m not going to let it” – or whatever words work for you. Another good analogy is a mosquito. What do you do when that little pest is about to bite you? You give it a good slap. Or better yet, you light a citronella candle so it never comes near you.
I read an article recently about the role that stress plays in aging. It wasn’t pretty. Here’s the research in a nutshell:
“The [research] revealed that cortisol levels indicative of chronic stress are associated with shorter telomeres (the outermost part of the chromosome that gets shorter as we grow older) in both depressed and healthy individuals. Cortisol, [aka] the “stress hormone” is released in stressful situations to give you a surge of energy to react when you need to (such as moving fast if you’re about to be hit by a car). However, it becomes unhealthy when long-term stress signals the body to keep releasing cortisol and wears down your body.
Is this what you want? I didn’t think so.
If meditation is not in your future (then join my club), find a way to pivot off the negative thought as it forms, before it bites you. That’s my RX this week. And I’m going to try it myself.
To your success.