Wednesday, 29 April 2020

How-to Examine Your Thinking

Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can. Of the gazillion thoughts we have a day, research has determined  that  80  percent  are  negative.  Science  also tells us that we remember the negative because doing so was hardwired into our DNA; we had to remember where the tar pits were so we wouldn’t fall into them.

Times are different now, and our thinking process has to evolve as well. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a “shrink” to realize that negative thoughts will produce downer days. The challenge for those of us who want to keep our thinking as positive as possible is to stop those massive quantities of bad vibes from entering our brains.

As  many  now  know,  the  first  step  is  to  recognize that you have negative thoughts. Some people can catch themselves in the moment, and for others it may take an evaluation that occurs at the end of the day. Either way, looking at your thoughts and seeing the positive-to-negative ratio will be an enlightening experience.

If you’d like to remove all your negative thoughts, sorry, it’s not going to happen. I don’t believe that it’s realistic to think that you can go through life without ever having thoughts you would consider unpleasant.

You  can,  however,  lighten  up  your  thinking  process considerably, and with very little effort. After  you  have  spent  a  week  looking  at  how your  mind  works,  you  can  then  begin  to  take  the uncomfortable thoughts and tell them to go away, one by one, as they come up. Yes, I know this sounds almost silly, but it works. When a negative thought comes up you can mentally stop it. Give it a try, and if you can do it once, you can do it again.

There are additional methods; one business colleague has given his negative inner voice a name, “Boris,” and says that when he has a negative thought, he tells Boris to go to his room and the thought dissipates. When a  student of mine catches himself feeling bad vibes,  he pictures  a  beautiful  forest  in  his  mind’s  eye,  and  that takes away the disturbing emotions and thoughts.
Meditation,  visualization,  and  self-hypnosis  are other tools that can assist you in this very doable task. Once you have mastered the art  of stopping negative thoughts  in  their  tracks,  you  will  be  surprised  to  see that, after you have engaged in the exercise for several weeks, you have substantially less of them.

This isn’t some New Age woo-woo thinking. It is an established, studied, and tested method for getting and  keeping  your  thinking  process  on  the  positive track. The hardest part is getting started, so now that you’ve finished reading this, give it a try. It may be a little  awkward  at  first,  but  most  things  worth  doing take a little practice and patience.

Monitoring your thinking, so you can change from a negative thinker to a positive one, is a great tool to help you build your self-confidence.

Always Have A Plan B

We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance. Because many things don’t go as well as we would like them to, it’s a great idea to have a “Plan B.” Having fallback plans can’t help but make you feel better about the  outcome  of  any  situation,  and  it  is  a  common denominator among very self-confident people.

Anyone  who  has  had  more  than  one  failure  in her  life  can  tell  you  that  having  another  path  to  take probably saved her bacon a time or two. I’m a big one for  contingency  plans.  If  you  are  an  entrepreneur,  in the  arts  or  media,  or  you  have  all  your  eggs  in  one basket, a Plan B is essential.

Knowing that if you lose the farm you have a condo you can go to makes you feel safer in the world. I know a number of people who have motor homes, and one of the reasons they do is, as they jokingly say, it’s their “in case” home. During the last big earthquake here in Los  Angeles,  many  people  who  had  them  were  very grateful—and those of us who didn’t were envious.

With the world economy in turmoil, creating some kind of additional income stream is also a good idea. The jeweler who is also a great designer or builder, the computer  geek  who  can  also  teach  school,  or  the  PR person  who  is  a  closet  novelist  can  all  find  a  way  to thrive even if their current position disappears.

Backup  plans  don’t  have  to  be  new  ideas—I continue  to  use  aspects  of  everything  I’ve  ever  done. My days on stage playing guitar have made me a better public speaker, which makes me a good radio host. The energy  I  put  into  songs  and  poems  has  helped  them become columns and books.
The years I spent running my  own  business  give  me  the  insight  to  help  others streamline theirs. 

And all of my experiences have made me  a  confident  and  successful  therapist.  Every  talent and  ability  you  have  can  be  built  upon  and  also  used again.  Not  that  I’d  ever  again  want  to  be  on  a  tour bus with six smelly guys for eight weeks, but if I had to I could still put food on the table by humming and strumming.

There’s  another  potential  upside  here:  Sometimes your  original  plan  and  your  backup  can  work  at  the same time. I still counsel, consult, write, and speak to groups all over the world. In years when the speaking business  got  very  slow  (such  as  after  9/11  and  then the  financial  crisis),  I  spent  more  time  writing  and counseling.

When  there  was  a  lull  between  books, I  put  more  energy  into  my  radio  show  and  business consulting, and did pro-bono events. Having multiple options gives you the sense that, if any one thing went away, you’d have other gigs that would more than fill the gap.

So get a little creative. Look at your past accomplishments and your current talents. A Plan B is only an idea away. By the way, this Plan B thing works in life, but not in relationships. Having a backup mate is only going to erode your current relationship and cause heartache for everyone involved. Enough said.


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