“Don’t believe everything you think.”
I say this to all my clients, usually in the first coaching conversation we have. I write it on the white board when I speak in front of groups—doesn’t really matter what the topic is, this quote always applies. Most importantly, I say it to myself on a daily basis.
Sometimes I totally believe what I’m thinking, even while I also know it’s ridiculous to believe it.
For example, I recently believed (for short periods of time at least):
- I can’t do this;
- Tom resents me;
- This summer’s going to suck;
- I’ll never be really successful
After thinking each of these thoughts for a while—and believing each one—it finally occurred to me that I don’t have to believe everything I think. That’s when I start to question my thoughts and they let go of me. That’s the best way I can describe it.
When I give myself the choice of believing a thought or not, that freedom seems to allow me to let go of or see as “not true” the thoughts that are, in fact, not true for me.
I use many tools that come under the heading of “thought work.” Byron Katie’s The Work is a favorite, and so is Brooke Castillo’s Self-Coaching 101. Every time I find a new tool, I think it’s going to be the only tool I’ll ever need. Turns out that thought isn’t true and I keep finding new tools that I also find helpful.
One of the most useful is simply thinking: “Don’t believe everything you think.”
When I do that my mind responds with something like: “Oh, yeah, I have a choice here, don’t I?”
And the truth is:
- I can do almost anything I want to do;
- that Tom may or may not resent me in a certain situation but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me or that he’s not invested in our life together,
- that this summer is already totally amazing;
- and that I am, by my own definition, very successful.
These thoughts lift me up, move me forward, or allow me to stay right where I am—in a place of peace and joy.
So, remember: “Don’t believe everything you think.”