Honestly, I don't know if you can control your thoughts. Let's do a little test. Let's just try this out. Think about bananas. Think about the color, texture, and taste of bananas. Imagine what they look like, what they feel like. You got it?
Okay, step 2. Do not think about grapefruit. You know the round ones that are sour and they kind of squirt you in the eye when you stick a spoon in them? Do not think about grapefruit. How are you doing? Oh! You're thinking about grapefruit, aren't you? I told you not to. What's wrong? Well, can you control your thoughts? Notice it's not too hard to intentionally think about something on purpose. It's really hard to intentionally not think about something on purpose.
There are so many triggers in our environment. I can be driving down the freeway in my car and suddenly I'm thinking about home mortgage rates. Why? Because I saw a billboard advertising rates. I wasn't thinking about home mortgages. Things will trigger your thoughts and you don't always get to control those thoughts. There is some hope. I learned something as I was reading a book by Eckhart Tolle. It's called The Power Of Now, I highly recommend it by the way. In his book, Eckhart Tolle shares an experience that he had. I believe it was in his 20’s when he went through a period of suicidal depression. And during this time, he had a thought, and the thought was, “I hate myself.” Not an uncommon thought for people who are experiencing suicidal depression. But then he had a second thought that saved his life. And the second thought was, “Wait a minute. Who is this that hates me so much? And who is this me that I hate?” Totally blew his mind, and saved his life. Because he realized something. All those thoughts that are going on in your mind are not necessarily you. They might simply be your brain generating possible scenarios. Your brain has the capability of doing this.
Think of it like actors on a stage. In this example, you get to be the person who is auditioning the thoughts that are dancing out onto the stage of your mind. So, you get your clipboard ready to do this audition. And you call for the first thought. Come on out. Let's see what you have. That thought dances out onto the stage of your mind. Now, you're taking notes. You're going to do some scoring maybe in some determining of which thoughts get to make the cut and be cast into whatever play is going on in your mind. So, the first thought that dances is out there and says something like this: “I hate myself.” Huh, hmm. No, sorry. Not what we're looking for. You're dismissed. Can you do that? What if you could? Just consider it for a minute. The next thought dances out onto the stage. “Um, actually I'm a pretty good person.” You make your notes. You do your little evaluation. You know what? Yeah, yeah. You get a callback. You get to come back because that's exactly what we're looking for. Just wait off to the side here for a minute.
Here's the thing. When you're auditioning these thoughts, you're the casting director. You get to decide which thoughts make the cut and which ones don't. If you're not the source of all of these thoughts, you're the one who gets to discern and choose and select and observe these thoughts. That changes things. We are not trying to control who shows up on our stage. We are simply deciding which ones we are going to give some space, some room, some of our precious life energy. Because you know what? If you cast that guy, if you cast that thought that's saying, “I hate myself,” guess what? He's going to call all of his buddies offstage and he's gonna say, “Hey! She's casting us here. Come on out.” And the next one dances out and says, “Yeah, and not only that you're fat and ugly. And not only that your mama dresses you funny. And nobody likes you.” And it just cascades from there. You've had the experience. You get to be the casting director, audition these thoughts very carefully.
I've got a few screening questions that I want to share with you because I think this might help. As the casting director, here's your first screening question for any thought that dances out onto the stage of your mind. Is this true? What about that thought that says, “I hate myself?” Pause, wait a minute. Got a screen now. Is this true? You know what? Ekhart Tolle saved his life with the realization that it can't be true. It's not even metaphysically possible to hate yourself. You'd have to be 2 people to do that. That's what blew his mind and saved his life. Is it true that I hate myself? No. It would be the equivalent of lifting yourself up by the bootstraps. Reach down, grab hold of your boots and lift up high enough that you can raise yourself off of the ground. You cannot do it. It's not even possible. I'm going to let you just gel on that for a little bit because that's a philosophical issue that I think deserves some attention. Is this true? That's the question you're going to ask.
“Everybody hates me.” That's another thought that dances out onto the stage of your mind. Is that true? No. Most people don't even know you. How could they hate you? They don't. “Well, the people who know me, hate me.” Is that true? No! You may think they hate you, but that doesn't make it true. See, we are going to ask that as the first screening question.
Here's another powerful question. What thought would serve me better? Here's an example. You know, how sometimes you get to feeling like you're constantly behind, like you're never where you should be or doing what needs to happen. You're kind of always behind the game. Alright, well how does that feel? Let's ask that question. What thought would serve me better? How about this one? “I'm right on schedule.” In fact, would you just say that? Just take a moment and say it with a little lilt to your voice. Raise your eyebrows just a touch. It'll help, I promise. I'm right on schedule. Now, how does that feel? How would it feel if you believed it? Would that thought serve you better? I'm guessing it probably would. And honestly do you know? Do you know if you're behind or on schedule? No! You don't know. But notice that you're taking a position about that. That's what I want you to notice. What thought would serve me better? Powerful question.
Before we wrap up today, I have to acknowledge this because I get it all the time from people that I'm coaching and my clients who say, “Well Dr. Paul, am I just lying to myself?” You know, when we suggest the new thought that might serve them better, use the example that we just talked about. “I'm right on schedule.” Oh, Dr. Paul, I feel like I'm lying to myself. Because I'm really not on schedule. You don't know. I mean in the grand scheme of things, you don't know if you're on schedule or not. You've got your little schedule you've set for yourself and you might be behind on that one. Well, notice that because we might be able to use that to upgrade your life. But in terms of the grand scheme of all things, you don't know if you're on schedule or not. So, you're probably already lying to yourself. Knock it off. Tell yourself the truth or at least choose a thought that serves you better. When you tell yourself you are behind, you are lying to yourself. You don't know that. Do you see how we sometimes get to lying to ourselves and we don't even think we are? And then when we choose a thought that serves us better we think we're lying to ourselves because we are not used to the thought yet. Give yourself some time to get used to it. Practice it. It's going to change how you feel.
I did another video recently about what negative thinking does to your brain. Cue that up to watch it next because it will follow right along with what we've talked about here. There is coaching, there are resources. There are videos available on Live On Purpose Channel on YouTube. You are not alone. You've got a lot of help and a lot of resources. Connect to us.