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June 17, 2024

Don't Believe Every Thought You Think

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The one person we can never get away from in life is ourselves. We are constantly in our heads having an internal conversation of thoughts that reflects our perception, needs, beliefs, and desires.

But sometimes those thoughts aren’t helpful.

It’s the voice on your shoulder criticizing you telling you that you’re not good enough. It’s a reinforcing script that suggests one failure is a statement of your poor character rather than an isolated moment of learning. It could even surface thoughts that are offensive and scandalous, things that you’d never take action on but you wonder why they came to mind in the first place.

But here’s something that I heard from Ed Mylett that has taken me a while to process: “You don’t need to believe every thought that you think.”

When we’re born, we are a blank slate. As we develop we learn different lessons, have different cultures and norms imprinted on us, and install a set of beliefs that become the filter our daily thoughts run through.

All of this to say - Thoughts of self-criticism, unworthiness, or offensiveness do not come from you. They come from the conditioning you were exposed to.

It’s within our power to challenge our thoughts, question our beliefs, and reroute our internal dialogue to something else that serves us. Rather than being at the mercy of these unconscious thought patterns we can choose to have more constructive thoughts through consciousness.

And that requires that we interrupt the pattern.

Have a self-defeating or self-critical thought about how you gave a bad presentation? Shift that to a thought of being proud you stepped up to the opportunity, and that your presentations will get better.

Feeling triggered by something that a loved one does and notice yourself thinking poorly of them? Change your line of thinking to be more empathetic, and choose to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Just because you’re thinking something does not make it true to you. There are layers of bias and years of conditioning that influence the thoughts we have. Being mindful of that will help you be more in control of the thoughts you think and therefore, impact the emotions you feel, the actions you take, and the results you get.

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