Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking. (Dangerous territory, I know.) But I’m becoming conscious everyday of the fact that I am in control of my own thinking, and when I decide to change my thinking, I can alter the outcome or result of my actions or my mood.
We all create our own thoughts and it’s genuinely becoming clearer to me that what we’ve been told all along is true – negative thoughts bring on negative situations, while positive thoughts bring about good ones.
It might sound a little airy-fairy (oh christ she’s on one again) but seriously, bare with me.
I recently read the below example in a book titled ‘Say Yes to Life’ (yes, I wish I’d written it!) which totally had me relating to it and realising just what a significant difference our thoughts can make to how we behave, and ultimately to how we live our lives:
You go into the staff canteen at lunch time and sit down at a table where other staff members are talking animatedly about the previous night’s soccer game.
You sit there for a few minutes; nobody talks to you.
You begin to think, They’re ignoring me. They must find me very boring. They probably didn’t want me to sit down here in the first place.
These thoughts lead to a rush of feelings, including sadness, disappointment and anger, embarrassment and humiliation.
You react by keeping your head down, hoping no-one will notice. You gulp your lunch down quickly and leave the table as soon as possible. As you leave the canteen, you vow never to go there again and always eat your lunch at your desk thereafter.
So we feel what we feel because of the way we think, and this influences how we behave!
Now here’s the same scenario but with different thoughts.
You go into the staff canteen at lunchtime and sit down at a table where other staff members are talking animatedly about the previous night’s soccer game.
You sit there for a few minutes; nobody talks to you.
This time, your thoughts are, Gosh, these guys are so passionate about that game that they didn’t even notice I sat down. It must have been quite a match, I wish I’d have seen it.
You feel interested and curious. You remain at the table eating your lunch and enjoy listening to the passionate exchanges. After a while, you begin to join in by asking a question about the score. You chat away with the group until it is time to return to work.
Same scenario, two totally different outcomes because of the different thoughts.
I recognised this situation on a number of occasions and I’m sure many of us have experienced something similar before.
I decided to put this new thinking into practise. So at a recent event, amongst 200 people of whom I knew two (and they were running around far too much for me to follow them without them noticing) I had to speak to new people.
Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE talking to new people. But sometimes, I might have a crazy little thought that maybe they won’t enjoy talking to me. (I know, right, of course they would! Thanks guys.) But there’s the first problem, I’ve created this habitual thought that they might not.
So a couple of times – rather than going through that horrendous feeling when you’re standing on your own in a room full of people and the only thing to look at is your phone (but you are in a different country so no-one back home is awake and free to speak to so you’re really just staring at a blank screen in the hope that no-one thinks you’re a total loser and figures you must have friends because you’re texting them on your phone) – yeah, rather than going through that, I was desperate to just hide in the toilets until it was time to go into the theatre where there was no pressure to talk to anyone.
BUT instead of hiding in the toilets (for any longer than five minutes anyway) I stood on my own, and instead of looking at my phone, I looked around, and I saw lots of other people standing on their own and looking at their phones as well and I wondered if they were dying slightly inside too. So I thought I’d just find out and I went over for a chat with the first sorry victim I could find.
I think it was a look of relief on the lady’s face when I went over and I wondered whether she too had in fact been dying a little inside at standing alone. But whether she had been or not, now she was trapped muahaha there we were, standing and chatting and no longer alone.
Because there’s always someone just like you to team up with.
And when I’d done it once, well the rest of the day was a breeze. I think they call it networking, darrrling. In fact, I came away from the event with lots of new contacts, new information, interesting things I’d learned AND no-one dashed off to the loo mid-sentence or fell asleep while I was chatting. So that’s good.
And I guess the next time I’m thrown amongst 200 strangers I’ll be eager to talk their ears off too. Y’kno, cos’ I can.
Although the ladies toilets is one of the top places for discovering things about people that they’d probably never share in any other environment, if I had have hidden in there for the day, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have learned quite as much.
Have you experienced something similar? Have you recognised that just changing your thinking can change your life? Let me know!
If you’re anything like me, thinking about thinking can sometimes get all too much! But talking about it helps. Get in touch at email@example.com and let’s talk thinking!