I have come to see over the years of supporting people create the life they want that one of the biggest obstacles to changing your life can be your thoughts.
As soon as you decide on a change, up surge all the limiting thoughts, beliefs and decisions you have made about yourself, the world, the employment market, anything to do with your career, your relationships, what you can and can’t do, any limitation you can come up with.
A while ago, one client I had said the most powerful thing she had learnt through coaching was not to believe her thoughts!
I recently went on a nine-day retreat called “The School of The Work” with Byron Katie and it was all about questioning any thought that gives you stress. It is a simple process and you can find out about it on her website.
It is basically four questions that ask you to question the validity of the thought, what believing the thought does to you and how it governs how you live your life and asks you to see how your life could be without the thought. Then you turn the thought around in different ways and look for genuine evidence of where the opposite or turnaround is true.
To give you an example, I was grappling with something after I came back from the course. I wanted to offer a contribution to a seminar that is being held at the end of the year in the USA. I know I have all the experience and knowledge to offer a very useful two-hour segment and yet I felt myself holding back. Some of the names on the ‘bill’ were well known people in the field of self development and all kinds of thoughts arose that stopped me putting my idea forward. One thought was, “it is presumptuous to offer this.” After going through the process, what I saw was actually more true was that I was presuming all kinds of negative reactions from the person I would be writing to. It was these thoughts – for which I had no evidence at all, that was stopping me writing the proposal.
We are never taught to question our thoughts. There is a lot of talk about changing your thoughts – staying positive. However, that can be kind of hard when you are in the grip of a negative thought. This process is the best one I have ever come across to loosen the hold of the thought that is causing your stress and stopping you moving forward in life. I now use it with all my clients and have seen huge shift in how they approach their world.
Our thoughts are not bad in themselves. They are just the concepts we’ve learnt throughout our lives and historically we are ‘programmed’ to think about what could go wrong. Take us back to prehistoric days and the thoughts that us kept alive then were the ones that prepared us for the sabre tooth tiger around the corner. Noticing what a lovely day it is and isn’t the sky great today took our minds off the simple survival we all needed to stay alive!
However there are no sabre tooth tigers in our vicinity right now and so it is safe to question the thoughts that stop us getting what we want.
What thoughts are stopping you going full out for what you want in life? What presumptions are you making about yourself or others?
For example of you are wanting to change career you may be thinking, “The employment market isn’t good right now”; “I don’t have enough time to do all this”; “It is safer where I am”; “I don’t have the experience”; “I’d have to retrain”; “They won’t employ me, I’m too old”; “They won’t employ me, I’m too young”; “It is too late in my life to change jobs”; “I can’t do it”; “I’ll never find out what I want to do”; “Everyone else but me is lucky in getting jobs”. The list is endless!
Don’t let these thoughts and any others like them stop you going for what you want. Take some time to question the thoughts and see that in fact the opposite could just as easily be true.
In “The School”, Katie talked about how our thoughts mirror the world around us – if we think something is ‘that way’, then it will be. She also said that we do not do “The Work” to change the world outside of us, we do “The Work” to feel better within and free ourselves of false concepts about ourselves or the world in general. Saying that it is my experience that the world outside does change when we stop believing the thought.
When I was in the retreat I did a worksheet on my sister – who I love dearly but it always bugged me that I was the one who called, who wrote emails who kept in touch. After going through the process I felt much better about it and realised that the thought just didn’t register any more. I went home and there buried in my 534 emails was an email from my sister. I opened the email thinking it was probably about some letters that had arrived from me (she is my power of attorney in the UK as I live in Spain). In fact, it was a great long newsy letter from her full of news about the family, the kids, etc. It truly showed me that when you shift inside – the outside could shift too.
What thoughts are you holding on to that stop your world shifting? What thoughts are you holding on to that stop you being able to shift your career, your relationship, your work/life balance? What thoughts are you holding that are stopping you from being happy, successful, and living a full life? Time to question them.
About the Author
Jessica McGregor Johnson works internationally as a Life Fulfilment Coach. She offers a free introductory session to discuss how she can help you create the shift you want and feel excited about your career and life again. Contact email@example.com or call 0203 239 6155 or visit www.jessicamcgregorjohnson.com
Jessica is also a Certified Passion Test Facilitator. The Passion Test is simple to take, fun to do and profoundly effective. For more information visit http://www.jessicamcgregorjohnson.com/the-passion-test.html