Have you ever felt the impact of your thinking get in the way of your potential, success and the impact you want to make across your business in life?
If you’ve answered yes to the above question, you are absolutely not alone and this is a very common challenge many… and I mean many people come up against.
As a London based Life and Business Coach, this is an area I work with a number of my clients on who are entrepreneurs and leaders, and at times really feel overwhelmed with what they describe as the amount of noise in their mind.
If I could summarise this into a question, it might sound something like ‘how do I deal with negative thoughts?’
At times, our thoughts might appear as, what if I do this and I fail? What if I don’t succeed? What if I am rejected and look XYZ in front of others? What if I let others down? What if I haven’t got the confidence? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… What if… What If?
Does this resonate with you?
In this article, I want to debunk some of the biggest myths that I’m sure you’ve heard about how our thinking works and then provide you with some insights that have served me well and I’m sure will prove invaluable for you to navigate the challenges you may be facing and come up against.
Without any hesitation, let’s begin.
Truth 1: There is no such thing as negative or positive thinking
As a great philosopher once said, thought is an ability not a reality. We all have the ability to think and sometimes feel very stuck and caught up in our thinking.
But in truth, one reason we struggle with our thinking is because we label thoughts we like as positive and thoughts we dislike as negative. Just ‘think’ about that for a second and re-read that sentence a few times over.
‘We label thoughts we like as positive and thoughts we dislike as negative’
As a result, we live in a world where we are constantly trying to change our thinking from one form to another which is practically impossible to do, (see point 2) but then living our lives being so caught up in going from this idea of negative to positive thoughts… which is exhausting and in reality, we can only experience thinking….as thinking and neither positive nor negative.
It reminds me of a client of mine that owns a gelato shop. If you were to visit, you would see flavours you like and flavours you don’t. You don’t call the flavours you don’t like negative…that would just be a label.
If anything, focusing on the flavours you don’t like and giving them a label probably doesn’t serve you, wouldn’t be a great use of your time AND…it would take you away from enjoying the experience and deciding what flavour you would like to feast on.
That is a way of looking at this truth and how our thinking works.
There is no positive or negative, just a variation in the way we experience our thoughts.
2. We are not in control of our thinking
Contrary to a lot of what experts might tell you about how ‘we should change our thinking and be positive’, I personally don’t believe we are in charge of our thinking.
I mean yes we experience thoughts, but last time I checked, I wasn’t walking around each day deciding what types of thoughts I was going to have or experience, we just have them as a by product of our default nature which is that ‘we think’, which is we are human, which is that it is perfectly ok and normal to be felling however you do from moment to moment.
As the therapist & 3 Principles teacher George Pransky once said, our thinking is like chocolate that you buy in the store, yes you can experience it but that doesn’t mean you manufacture it.
The other point about our thinking is that we experience thoughts which come and go… without us necessarily intervening to change our thinking.
This may take anything in between 10 seconds to a couple of hours or more….but your thinking changes rapidly without your intervention, whether that is what you are thinking about the options for lunch or dinner, through to a challenge you are wanting to overcome.
Many people often think they can silence their thinking but in reality all they are doing is replacing one thought for another thought that looks slightly better which as a result leaves you still so caught up in your thinking.
Sure, it might feel better than the other thinking you used to have, but you’re still just caught up in your thinking and it doesn’t feel as wholesome or useful long term to do more thinking, to replace thinking, leaving you in your thinking and away from your
responsiveness to life in real time as it is unfolding.
But when we are really experiencing our thinking and feel stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated and annoyed… We don’t see that in time, our thinking dissipates with very little intervention by us.
Why these two truths are actually very appreciated by a number of my clients in business, is because, it then takes the massive pressure away from you to instantly try and change your thinking when you’re in a low mood or instantly needing to feel anything other than what you are in each moment…knowing your thinking will change by itself inevitably.
There is a big personal development/self-help message which is along the lines of you need to change your thinking when you experience what we used to call negative thinking and it’s your job to feel good when you’re not feeling good.
And it only makes you feel worse because as you may have realised already, it’s impossible to manipulate your thinking and it just implies you shouldn’t be feeling the way you are and have to change….and be something other than yourself…which leaves you feeling to quote a mentor of mine ‘that kinda sucks’
This is more powerful than you know, because as Michael Neill says “There is nothing you can do to change your thinking quicker than to do nothing to change your thinking”
It really does change the game, realising there is actually so little you need to do to change your thinking as it will fall away by itself the less you engage with it.
Our job in this sense is to be ok with the discomfort of our thinking that may come from time to time.
3. The reason we struggle with our thinking, is because we think about our thinking
I was coaching a client recently you had a really profound insight when I shared this understanding with her.
During our session, she paused and looked incredibly shocked and when I asked her what was on her mind, she said ‘I just realised why I struggle so much with my thinking.’
‘When I experience my thinking, I’ve stopped whatever I am doing in that moment and begin thinking further about my thinking and engaging with my thinking….I’m eating a thinking sandwich which is mentally bloating and overwhelming.’
Now you might be resonating with this insight my client had at the time but this is a very powerful realisation because so often, why we experience the impact of our thoughts even further, is because we are so caught up in listening to and engaging with our thoughts believing that this helps in some way or form.
You can find out more about the way we use misuse pressure and our thinking here in another article I wrote recently
All this actually does is cause us to be further stuck into thought.
You may be asking me right now, ‘Raghav, are you telling me to stop thinking? Or my thinking is unhelpful and I shouldn’t be so caught up in it….well how am I going to do XYZ in my life/business without thinking….???
I get this question often at first from a number of my clients and it is so normal but ask yourself, do you tend to perform best when you have more on your mind or a clearer mind while you are:
-In a meeting
-On a date
-Enjoying your favourite food
-Running a presentation
-Conducting a sales call
-Working out what to do next in your business or life
-Being more present and in the moment
-Making effective decisions
Is it easier to do the above with a lot of thinking on your mind or a quiet and clearer mind?
Now I can have a guess which one you will pick and what would make the most sense to you but it is interesting we actually do the exact opposite in our own life and business.
What does this mean now? What next?
I will be bringing you another article shortly on the impact of mindset on Performance across Life & Business but here are a couple of reflection questions I’d like to share with you for now.
-What if it wasn’t your job to change or fix your thinking, what would the impact be for you? – What would be different if you left your thoughts alone?
-What would the implications and impact be across your life and business if you didn’t engage your thinking? What do you notice?
I would recommend you take 30 minutes if you can to reflect on these questions as I’m sure your insights will be profound and of real value to you in a number of ways. I’d love to hear what stands out to you, please do feel free to comment below or email me with the answers to your questions.
Thank you once again for visiting my website and reading this article, if I can support you with the insights shared in this article or toward anything you’d like to accomplish this year in your business or career, please do send me an email telling me more and it would be great to connect with you.
Feel free to email me at [email protected] and it would be great to hear from you.
My best wishes,