Reading about thought isn’t sexy.
I won’t tell you to take immediate action, or make the bold and daring move. But the more I explore identity and progression, the more I encounter the importance of self-awareness and meta-cognition (i.e., thinking about your thinking). Without it, the actions we take can’t bring us the results we’re looking for.
To illustrate my point, think for a moment about your own, inner goals.
- Do you want to deepen your faith in Jesus Christ?
- Do you want to define and live your healthiest life?
- Do you want to make big things happen with your writing?
In merely deciding you took a crucial first step… thought! — because, consciously or unconsciously, words have immense power, especially the words you say to yourself.
Your thoughts control your feelings.
As an example, I’ve been working through Intuitive Eating recently, and I am slowly learning how to label my food-related thoughts:
- Numbering my hunger & fullness & paying attention to satisfaction (How does this taste? How do I feel? Is it pleasant or unpleasant?)
- Spotting diet culture (When someone is trying to make money from my roller-coaster journey, when I or someone else thinks thoughts about my body/habits with no factual basis, when I perpetuate generalized food rules that may or may not apply to my personal health, etc…)
- Self-care + honoring my body (“I should eat because I’m going to be leaving soon, and I will get hungry again before too long.” In other words, my body is telling me “x,y,z”, and I need to listen.)
- Self-compassion (I may not have had the “best” day today, but here is what I would say to a friend if they were in my shoes…)
- Entitlement eating (Feeling the need to “rebel” with food because of a bad day or an unkind interaction)
Notice how, specific to eating or not, your thoughts contain valuable information you need to know in order to affect change — to decide how you feel, how you want to feel, and how you will act.
Feel your feelings.
After evaluating your self-talk, ask yourself how do your inner thoughts, self-talk, and beliefs make you feel?
Grateful? Loving? Lacking? Failing? Overwhelmed? Joyful? Sad?
Important note: Before you start to re-frame any negative thoughts, give yourself permission to sit with that feeling.
This doesn’t mean you need to over-identify, or blow a feeling out of proportion to its origin, but try not to numb-out. Pushing away and blocking unwanted feelings can lead to unresolved issues and pent-up emotion.
Instead, be understanding with yourself and why you feel that way. Give it time, and learn to recognize what circumstances and events led up to that feeling.
Decide how you want to feel.
Next, decide how you want to feel.
- What thoughts led to your feeling this way?
- What thoughts might lead you to feel differently?
- Can circumstances be adjusted to replicate positive feelings? Or prevent further negative feelings?
If not, remember: your thoughts are optional. You can’t always control your circumstances, or difficult truths, but you can look at the glass as half-full, rather than half-empty.
Question your thoughts.
Sometimes, we sit with a thought that is individually but unknowingly, culturally, socially, or generally derived and we don’t even realize it. Don’t be afraid to question your thoughts and ask yourself where they came from and what they are founded upon.
In fact, here is where you can start to re-frame. I know of two ways to do this.
#1: Re-frame thoughts based on past experience.
- Are you accepting a truth from someone else without evaluating how applicable or specific it is to you as an individual?
- What does your own past experience tell you about your thought or belief?
- Is your experience or another’s the only one out there?
- Is your thought or belief true for everyone all of the time?
- Based on your evaluation, is it true for you now?
#2: Re-frame thoughts with curious awareness.
Curious awareness means putting your thoughts to the test in the present and future, rather than with past experience. Play the skeptic, and experiment. Practice asking yourself:
- Is this actually true?
- If it weren’t true, why wouldn’t it be?
- What would that look like?
- What could I do to evaluate if this is true for me now?
Then, take those steps and re-evaluate.
Practice being intentional.
Once you know what’s inside, intentionally keep in mind how you want to feel and practice thinking thoughts that serve you. Allow yourself grace along the way and recognize that it’s going to take time.
But I promise you, the internal work, the hard stuff, is necessary, and 100% worth it.
Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.Mark 11: 22-24 (KJV)
Can you imagine that kind of faith in Jesus? His promises? Yourself? You are in the driver’s seat. You can choose faith over doubt in your heart, so start there.
Whatever your desired outcome, here’s to evaluating within, with faith that positive actions and results will follow.