"Change your thoughts and you change your world." —Norman Vincent Peale
Our brain’s job is to think and it accomplishes this duty by delivering more than 100,000 thoughts every day. Our thoughts make us feel and our emotions drive our actions. It becomes understandable that our thoughts are very important when we are working towards a specific outcome in our life. Thoughts are the beginning of a powerful cascade. Thinking, though, is very different than awareness of thought. Changing the outcome of the cascade occurs when we change what has initiated it, but we can only work to change what our mind is thinking when we are aware of our thoughts.
Imagine you were standing on a hill overlooking a very busy highway. The speed limit is 70 and you are watching as the cars whiz by. The stream of cars looks like a blur because they are going so fast and you don’t have time to focus on the details of the passing vehicles. This is thinking. Now imagine that you are standing on the hill and waving a flag to make the cars slow down. The cars slow to a crawl and you notice some cars are blue and others are red with stripes. This is awareness.
Kyleigh was scheduled for the SATs when I received a panicked call from her while I was at work. Through a voice of panic, she asked, “Mom, did you apply for accommodations for me?”. My heart sank. Kyleigh had been diagnosed with diabetes 4 years prior and required accommodations for standardized tests because high and low blood sugars made her loopy. The task of applying for accommodations did not even cross my mind. I immediately felt like I had let my daughter down, but I didn’t want Kyleigh know that I had failed. Feigning confidence, I said, “Let me call them, Kyleigh. It will be fine.”.
I did call and it wasn’t fine. I couldn’t focus at work. I cried when I was home. During the days following, I didn’t spend time with my kids and I ignored the items on my calendar. I was sabotaging my life and I didn’t really understand why. I just felt like I was worthless.
Getting out of this funk didn’t need time, it needed awareness. My brain was busy giving me plenty of thoughts about my subpar parenting skills, but I wasn’t aware of them. The thoughts were making me feel terrible which was causing me to sabotage life. I needed to become aware of my thoughts. I needed to wave the flag on the hill and pause to pay attention to ideas that my mind was creating. This is the critical first step in being able to create the desired results in your life. Negative thoughts can be halted and changed, but only if awareness occurs.
Awareness of your mind is a skill that needs to be practiced. It is helpful to write thoughts down to be able to visualize them without judgment. This practice takes time, but it is ultimately time well invested into being the best version of ourselves.
When was the last time you slowed the traffic of your mind to bring awareness to your thoughts?
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