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When I tell people what I do - that I am a coach and that I help women unlearn burnout culture by choosing their thoughts on purpose - people are often skeptical.
People want to know - can it be that simple? Can changing your thoughts really change your life? (Yes, 100% it can.)
But since most of us did not grow up believing that changing our thoughts can change our lives, we have a lot of questions about this concept. We want to know how it applies when things "go wrong." For instance, how can your thoughts change your life when your internet isn't working? Obviously thinking about the situation differently will not make your internet suddenly work.
Here's the teaching on that: even when your internet goes down or things don't go according to plan, you still get to choose what to think about it.
Yes, at first your brain will just offer you all its normal thoughts, whatever it has learned to think throughout your life. But even if the first thing your brain says is "this is a problem," you don't have to keep thinking that way.
This doesn't mean that learning to choose your thoughts on purpose is easy. You're creating new neural pathways, and that takes time and practice. But realizing that you don't have to go with the first thought your brain offers you is revolutionary.
For some of us, we don't want to stop thinking some things are problems. We're used to that way of thinking and we don't understand how else to think about things. But what I want you to consider is: what do I really mean when I am thinking this is a problem?
Sometimes, when we say something is a problem, what we mean is that we'd like to see it change and we're willing to take action to create that change. But sometimes what we mean is: I wish things weren't that way, and I am going to get mad at them and blame them for my feelings.
There's nothing wrong with thinking something is a problem and wanting it to be different. But if you also believe that it's causing your feelings, then you're abdicating responsibility for something that is actually completely within your control. Your thoughts about the world are what create your feelings. The world itself does not, even when the internet goes down right when you really need it.
When you realize that you get to choose what you think about everything all the time, then you realize how much power you truly have. People often think that this means they have to be happy about everything, but the reality is that how we choose to think and feel is deeply personal.
For me, knowing that I get to pick what I think, about everything, all of the time, is the most empowering thing in the world. Truly. There are so many things about our current world that I do not like and before coaching I thought that I had to feel outraged about them. I didn't realize there were other options. I didn't realize that I could want them to change and also choose how to think about them.
I still feel outraged sometimes, but here's the difference. I know that I am the one causing it. The outrage is not happening to me. I am the one creating it. And when I know that I am the one creating the feeling, and that I can also create other feelings, then I do not have to be afraid of the world or of my own feelings. I know that I can and will handle whatever comes up, because I know that I know how to choose my thoughts on purpose.
Also, when I choose my thoughts and feelings on purpose, I usually don't choose outrage anymore. I choose curiosity. I choose compassion. I choose inspiration, even when the world is doing something that I would seriously prefer it did not do.
Why? Because when it comes to creative problem solving, outrage is generally not the right tool. Rather than being useful, outrage usually just burns everything in its path and then fizzles out into disempowerment, despair, and resignation. There's nothing wrong with any of these feelings, but most of the time, they are not what I want to create.
Let's look more closely at the example of the internet going down. I chose this example because ... it's what's really happening in my life today, and I know it happens in your life, too. No matter how things are supposed to be, technology fails sometimes. Things don't always go according to plan.
Being a coach doesn't mean I never think anything is a problem. I definitely felt some irritation about my internet going out. But. I have a tool for that.
Now this is something really important: I use the tools I have, the same tools I am teaching you, because I like the results they create. This is not at all about being more patient or a better person or anything like that.
This is about noticing that when I think what is happening shouldn't be happening, I spend a lot of time and energy being annoyed. I huff and I puff. I resist reality. But my resisting reality, my insisting it should be different than it is, does not change reality. It does not create solutions. It just burns me out and leaves me feeling sorry for myself.
Here's what does work and create solutions: noticing my thoughts and choosing to pivot. Choosing to shift from resisting reality to influencing reality. And here's how we influence reality: We shift from "this shouldn't be happening" to "since this is happening, what would I like to do?" When we stop resisting reality by insisting it shouldn't be happening, then we can use our energy to figure out practical steps we can take to work towards the resolution we would like.
For me and my internet, it looked like this. First I was super annoyed, because I thought that it was a problem and that it shouldn't be happening. But it was happening. And my thinking it shouldn't be just pissed me off and did nothing to bring my internet back. So instead, I said to myself, ok, the internet is down, what would I like to do? And that thought feels a lot more empowering. It also reminded me that I knew what to do. I called the internet provider. I advocated to get a technician to come out as soon as possible. And I texted a friend to arrange to work at her house where I could write this blog and also record my weekly video.
And here's what's really magical about this. Now I'm sitting at my friend's house, writing, and feeling grateful. Not because I should or it's better. But because it's way more fun to feel grateful for my friend and my own problem-solving brain than it is to feel sorry for myself and wish things were different.
And this is what it all comes down to. When you realize that you can change your entire experience of things by changing how you think about it, it's less about whether things are a problem or not and more about what you want to feel. The world is an imperfect place. We are imperfect beings. That's not bad news or good news. It's just what is. What you choose to think about it is up to you.
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