Recognizing Our Storylines and Choosing To Change Them
This weekend I had to have an intervention with my thoughts. I was trying to figure out why I was not attacking a certain big project that I’d been thinking about for a good time now. Not only was I not attacking it – I was not moving forward on it in any way. I felt overwhelmed by it and so found myself doing other things. In taking some quiet time to breath and reflect, I realized scary, negative thoughts kept going through my head. The storyline in my head was how overwhelming it was to do by myself. To be tech person, audio/video specialist, mindfulness specialist, and teacher all together was feeling like too many hats. I wondered if it would succeed. I was allowing myself to think things like, “Others are already doing it, who do I think I am? “.
During my reflection, I reminded myself that I cannot succeed if I don’t even try. I reminded myself that I can’t do everything, but in this case I had the skills! If I dig back into my education and experience, Yes! I have developed online courses; worked with audio; worked with video; and done all the things necessary to move forward in this project. Yes, there is a lot of new technology since then, but I have experience learning new technology and I can do it! And yes, others are already teaching online, but that doesn’t mean I can’t succeed. All teachers are different and attract different people. I realized I could do this but I needed to change the storyline in my head.
How many of you have experienced these types of situations? Maybe you realized that you were putting off something you’d planned to do? Or you just weren’t moving forward in some area of your life and if you sat quietly you might have realized that you were standing in your own way. The storyline going through your head was negative and not encouraging. It didn’t focus on your strengths and abilities; instead it focused on your perceived weaknesses! This is not a good place to be!
Through neuroplasticity research we now know that our brain changes throughout our adult life. We can not only take on new activities, but we can change and become happier, kinder, etc. This also means that we can become sadder and more negative. This information makes it extra important to stay on alert. To question our thoughts and habits, especially the ones that aren’t helpful to leading our best life!
My love of rowing is a constant reminder for me to question the thoughts in my head. I have what I’d refer to as a healthy respect for water – some might say fear. But I love rowing! So, I often find myself in water that is a bit scary. It might be wavier than I would like. Maybe I’ve been out too long and the wind came up and there are white caps and I have to get back across the lake. Or maybe while I was out the lake got busy with water skiers and other people in motor boats. Or like a couple days ago I was out in the evening and before I know it; dark is upon me. I start thinking, “I don’t have a light on.” and “What if I flip and people can’t find me?”. When I row it’s a constant practice to remind myself. Christine you have the skills. You have a boat that has always been sturdy and gotten you through everything. You have a life jacket. You know how to swim, whether you like to or not. You can do this. Do you have an activity that you love, but sometimes it scares you?
I invite you to consciously look for these opportunities in your life to practice positive self-talk. Instead of it’s hard to learn new technology, I am choosing to say “I know and am confident with technology.”. I’m giving myself a new truth.
It’s important not to be hard on ourselves when we identify these thought patterns. They are probably learned behaviors that we took on to protect ourselves in some way at some point in the past. But it is ok to recognize that while that thought or behavior pattern might have met our needs at one time, it is no longer useful. It's not as easy as saying, "I'm done with that I'm changing", especially when we've created a habit, but take solace in the research telling us we can create new habits if we keep interrupting the old and inserting the new. There’s a lot of information on research on neuroplasticity, to get us started here is an initial article on it from Medical Daily. Play-Doh Neuroplasticity: 4 Things That Can Actually Change The Shape Of Your Brain
Any thought patterns you'd like to interrupt more often?