Choosing to Reality Check your Thoughts

reality check your thoughts

In the spirit of April Fool’s Day, I wanted to write about something that easily fools many of us over and over again… OUR OWN THOUGHTS!

Your Thoughts are Not Real

treepose

Our minds are like monkeys…busy and silly and mischievous!  Sometimes your mind tells you outright lies…  that you aren’t good enough, that you are unlovable, that you are a fraud and that people will find out the truth that you aren’t all the things you strive to be…

unloveable

 

Yes there is such a thing as intuition but I am encouraging you to challenge your thoughts from time to time.  Check in with what is real.  Is there an alternative perspective to be had?  Could your thoughts actually be reflective of past traumas or fears rather than based on what is really going on?  Don’t be afraid to cross-examine your own self! 

Get a Reality Check:

Try this exercise to process your thoughts:

  1.  Write down what you are thinking.  I know, I know…most of you WILL NOT DO THIS.  But if I’ve said it once, I will say it 1000 times because it is scientifically proven – writing down your thoughts and feelings has been shown in evidence based research to help you process them.  So get out an old school pencil and paper -not your notes on your phone or ipad…not typing…actual pencil to paper and take a few minutes and some trust in me that I know what I’m talking about!

Keeping a journal helps process thoughts

Write down your thoughts and be sure to distinguish between thoughts vs. feelings.  You are righting down thoughts such as:

He doesn’t love me. She doesn’t like me. They think I’m stupid. They don’t care if I come to the dinner. My boss doesn’t think I’m capable enough to take on this project.  I will fail. I am not skilled enough for this job. etc….

2.  NOW you get to go deeper and look at the FEELINGS.  What are the feelings that are triggered or underlying in thoughts vs feelingsthese thoughts?  For example:  The thought:  They think I’m stupid.  The feeling:  I feel rejected.

What is amazing is that many of the thoughts and feelings we have really are symptoms of deeper issues.  For example, getting mad at your partner for not helping clean up a mess in the house.  The thoughts:  They don’t care to help and take for granted that I will just do it. They are lazy.  They are rude.  The feelings: I am feeling annoyed, angry, disrespected.  Often times anger is really a symptom of a deeper feeling of hurt, rejection and fear.  You’re not just upset about a mess in the kitchen – you’re upset that your partner isn’t valuing you and ultimately that you aren’t being loved and cared for.  (Your partner is thinking…I just really wanted to take a nap!)

3.  Now that you have a) identified your thoughts and b) labelled the feelings…   Write down any actions that you have taken as a result of these thoughts and feelings so far.  For example, you are thinking that your partner is a jerk for not helping you clean up the big mess… you are feeling frustrated and angry and on a deeper level hurt that he seems to take you for granted.  How did you behave based on these thoughts and feelings?  Did you start a fight?  Did you begrudgingly clean up the mess yourself and stew about it the entire time, cursing him and yourself for allowing yourself to do all the work?  Write down what behaviours (ignoring, witholding, fighting, yelling..) and actions (cleaning, leaving the house, doing nothing…) you took in response to your thoughts and emotions.

4.  I’m going to refer to one of my favourite quotes by Marianne Williamson for this step:

View every action and reaction as one of two things:  Either a Call for Love or an Expression of Love.

How can we see LOVE in these thoughts and feelings?

How can you frame your thoughts and feelings now as a call for love or an expression of love?  Let me explain with an example:

You asked a friend to hang out and they rejected your invitation.  Your thought is that this person doesn’t really like you and you feel rejected and hurt. Your behaviour and actions as a result of these thoughts and feelings was to be hurt and angry and to vow never to ask them to do anything again.  You decide you don’t even like that person and that they are rude and unworthy of your friendship.  Defensive much??   Viewing this as a CALL FOR LOVE, we see the deeper issue… deep down we all fear that we are unloveable (for more on this read my post “Are you really unloveable?”).  This is BIOLOGY.  We need the acceptance and caring of others for our very survival.  Feeling rejected by our tribe is literally life-threatening… this goes down to primitive instincts.  As human infants we literally will DIE if we are not cared for by an able-bodied, good enough care-giver.  We cannot access the necessities of life on our own in infancy.

Melissa Scheichl and her baby Kate

If you’ve ever heard of the rhesus monkey experiments you know that living creatures seek love and comfort from a caregiver over basic food and shelter.  We literally NEED LOVE to be healthy.

Your feelings of hurt and your corresponding actions of withdrawal are your responses to thoughts that you are not cared for.

Here’s the Golden Nugget! You can challenge your thoughts and contemplate alternative realities!

Look at other explanations and reality check your negative thoughts

4.  Write down alternative possibilities for your thoughts.  Be compassionate and realistic with yourself in this work!

Let’s use our previous example of the friend who declined your invitation.  Your thought that this is a bad friend and unworthy of your friendship is based on your interpretation that your friend is rejecting you rudely and without good reason.  What are possible alternative explanations?  This is your friend!  Could they be going through something in their own lives right now? Perhaps your friend is overwhelmed and busy?  Could your friend be reacting to their own thoughts about you?  Perhaps they are processing their own issues that are rendering them unavailable for your invitation.

 

5.  Seek answers!   If in doubt – ask!

Choose a loving interpretation and response

You will never go wrong in life if you use this very question to guide your interpretations and responses.  First of all be loving to yourself.  Acknowledge that your thoughts go to these insecure places and recognize how damaging that is to our hearts. Can you love yourself enough to know that you are worthy of love and that regardless of what the outcome is with this situation you are doing your best and you are good enough?  You are lovable!

Next, bring that loving awareness towards the situation.  In our example, reach out to your friend in a respectful way.  Do not launch into a big drama or withhold speaking to them.  Don’t be afraid to ask them why they are unable to get together and use their answer to guide you through this same process of thoughts, feelings and actions.  Accept what they are saying and respond with love.  Let them know how you are feeling and what you would like the outcome to be.  Example:  I hear that you are busy and unable to meet up.  I miss you and would love to get together soon!  Can we put a date in the calendar for next month?   This is respectful of their boundaries but not avoiding the outcome you are hoping for -to see your friend.   Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.  Be it a meeting with a friend.  A chance to interview with your boss for a promotion…whatever it is you want.  Check your thoughts and feelings and behaviours an be aware that your mind may in fact be fooling you! 

   

Don’t believe everything you think!

With loving thoughts,

Melissa Scheichl

 

 

 

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