Friday, September 21, 2012

Useful and Useless Thoughts

"For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

I believe Shakespeare was on to something there. In Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2, his lead character makes that simple but profound revelation. 

And so it is with our everyday lives. Our encounters, victories, frustrations, close misses -- all are subject to our own internal voice. Those little electrical connections that are buzzing in our brains are evaluating, judging, and commenting on the activities and events that are happening throughout our day. We've all found ourselves at the mercy of our own thoughts, but when we figure out how to actively divide our thoughts into different categories, we begin to make some headway. 

I discovered that my own natural tendency is to drift towards negativity. Left to itself, my internal dialogue is rarely uplifting unless I'm actively pulling it in that direction. 

"Do I like this?" No.

"Am I good at this new activity?" Not really.

"Are people looking at me funny? Are their whispers about me?" Probably so. 

Or, I'll take it even further...

"I suck at this. I'm awful. And these other people are even worse than I am." 

Unproductive. Consciously, I have to choose to replace my useless thoughts and my negative internal conversations with more helpful and productive phrases, like...

"I can, I will, and I am going to do well at this."

"I am focused on progress, not perfection."

"Something about this will help me 5 years from now."

"This situation will make a great story someday...."

"I will laugh about this later, so why not laugh now?"

I have to say positive things out loud to myself and to others or else my mind likes to gravitate over to the dark side. I discovered that by saying these helpful things out loud, my mind would begin to paint a useful picture and help me come up with solutions. I would visualize what I wanted to happen rather than wallowing in negative images and thoughts.

Entertain only those thoughts which build you up; trash the rest.

Ask yourself what thoughts help you feel confident. What thoughts drain you. The toughest battleground most of us will ever face is the 6" between our ears.

Director of Leadership, Southwestern Advantage