Sometimes we get stuck in negative thought loops. We know we are in one when we keep getting the same unwanted results over and over again. This is part of the flesh, or the old man referenced in Romans 7, "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
Sometimes we behave as though our actions "just are." In default mode, we never consider that our thought is the first domino in a series. When we start to believe new things, we change the results we get. Notice change starts on the thought line, not on the action line. We must start from the inside out. When we believe a new thought, our heart changes and from that our actions become renewed.
The better your new thought is, the easier time you will have believing it. When you completely believe it, you will create the result to reflect the belief.
I mentioned in my last post that my coach Brooke Castillo suggests 4 strategies for creating new thoughts by re-purposing old thoughts:
1. Up-leveling: Ladder your thoughts from easy to believe to more difficult. I love the example she uses with her clients who want to stop drinking. It is hard to go from the belief, "I can't stop drinking," to "I don't ever drink." When you think the second thought you are probably adding to the thought, " That is hogwash," so you don't really believe it.
When we Level Up thoughts, the process is gradual and the thoughts are more believable. Here is Brooke's example of up-leveling she uses with drinking. Notice how the thoughts build:
2. Add ons: By adding words to a current thought you can soften it, and even change it. I love John 16:33 which starts with a fact which standing alone is disheartening. "In this world you will have trouble, but (ADD-ON) take heart, I have overcome the world." The first feels heavy-hearted, while the Add-On brings peace.
My favorite Add-On is "...and that's okay."
You can also Add-on to the beginning of a thought, "I am thinking the thought__________." This will help you look at the thought rather than getting lost in the thought as though it were an inevitable fact.
3. Flipping: Take the thought and flip it to the opposite.
Thought: My husband does not care about my thoughts or feelings.
Flip #1: My husband DOES care about my thoughts and feelings.
Flip #2: I don't care about my husband's thoughts and feelings.
When we consider flip thoughts, we find evidence of the opposite. This experience opens us to the idea that the original belief is optional.
4. Ask "How would I like to think instead?" When we consider what we would like to think about a circumstance we give ourselves permission to consider other options:
If you would like to believe new things and want to see what working together looks like, set up a free mini session and I will give you your before and after.
We can look at all our marriage problems in terms of thoughts, feelings, and actions. There are HERS. And there are HIS.
In a relationship, we each assess the other person's actions based on our own thoughts. It is in our mind that we experience the other person. The relationship is actually a figment of how you think about it. In this sense, the relationship exists independently in each of your heads.
It feels great when your thoughts and feelings match up with someone else; you both desire the same thing; your values and interests feel in harmony.
Unfortunately, this is never a permanent state of a relationship. Often, what you intended by your action and what he perceived are two different things. That is just the nature of relationships in a fallen world. What you value in your mind (a clean kitchen perhaps?) and what he desires (a movie marathon?) don't always match up. (or maybe its the other way around).
Thoughts create feelings.
When we think something, we feel something, which fuels action or inaction and ultimately this little cascade creates our results.
If we want to create change in how we are experiencing life, the process starts by finding out exactly what is creating our current results.
You will want to think it is the circumstance creating your outcome. But, I promise you it is not. It is your thoughts.
To create change, you must notice, name, and feel your feelings, find the thoughts causing those feelings, then notice how those feelings are creating your actions and results.
You can do it in any order, but it is the awareness of all those components that begins the process.
Once we understand our patterns and the thoughts causing them, we will inevitably want to change our thinking. This is very different than putting your energy toward trying to change another person's actions. In the the word's of C.S. Lewis, "Of all the awkward people in your house or job there is only one whom you can improve very much."
So now that we are clear that relationships do not improve by trying to change another person, just how do we change our thoughts?
It is easy to intellectually understand this, but on a conscious level, we don't really get it.
The implications of this are, we don't try to feel better about an unwanted situation, but rather we recognize that the only thing making the situation unwanted is our own thinking.
Once this is established, the next step is to create a new thought. Learning how to create thoughts is the most powerful skill you will ever learn. It takes awareness, commitment and practice.
Here is basically how you do it:
1. Find the current thought causing your current pattern. If you identify more with emotion, notice what you are feeling and identify the thought creating that feeling.
2. Decide what you want to think and feel instead. If you want to feel a more positive feeling, like delight for instance, ask yourself, "What must I be thinking about my husband (without changing him) to feel that feeling?"
3. Go through the process of believing the new thought. This is something I go into detail with all my clients.
4. Rehearse, practice and believe before you have evidence.
Language can help as we create new thinking from old thinking. Here are 4 strategies I learned from my coach Brooke Castillo that I really like for creating new thoughts:
2. Add ons
4. Ask "How would I like to think instead?"
In my next post I will tell you all about these strategies.
In the meantime, if you have some area's where you need to do some thought work and believe new things, I would love to help you. Get your free mini-session to begin transforming your mind and relationship!
Where we are in life proves what we are thinking. When we change our perspective, we can change our lives and our relationships.