Challenges, Growth, Self-Improvement

Our Thoughts Create Our Experience

In December, I found myself in a bit of a “funk” … I continued to show up for my family as the best me I could be, but inside I felt a little weary … a little discouraged, and frankly, at times, just plain bored … 

I was struggling … despite seeing all that I had in my life to be thankful for … despite all of my blessings … despite everything I’ve been given … everything I’ve done (and continued to do) … it wasn’t enough … I was on the verge of tears it seemed all the time … I was yearning for something … desperate … and despite trying and doing “all the right things,” I couldn’t shake it … I wasn’t really sure what to do with it … or how to fix it …

Thankfully, I discovered another book to help me on my journey … as I began to read Dr. David Burns’ book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, I became familiar with how significant our thoughts are to the quality of our life … it wasn’t my circumstances or my experiences (or lack thereof) that was the problem … it was MY THOUGHTS about all of these things that was the problem …

Perhaps this is a no-brainer to you, but it took me a few “closer looks” at some of my thoughts to get this figured out and realize how distorted (and negative) my thinking can be at times … 

Have you ever caught yourself in an ALL or NOTHING thinking pattern? You think if things aren’t perfect, there’s no point in even bothering. 

Or maybe you prefer to overgeneralize? One negative event means ALL things are negative. A rough five minutes turns into a rough day.

Or maybe you like to filter things a little … as you dwell on the one negative detail of the circumstance and fail to see the positives. 

Or perhaps you try to disqualify your positive experiences, insisting they “don’t count.” I do this all of the time … 

Or maybe you’re also like me and you tend to jump to conclusions about people or circumstances … or you blow things out of proportion

Do you “should” yourself to death?

Or maybe you label yourself in not-so-nice ways (“I’m so dumb!” or “I’m such a loser!”). 

Perhaps, you even take ownership of things that are simply not yours to own … like someone else’s choices or behaviours.

All of these ways of thinking are skewed … they represent a distorted way of thinking about and viewing our circumstances … 

To be frank, these thoughts RUIN the quality of our life again and again and again.

Becoming aware of the consequences of such negative thinking patterns (and a couple of “tricks” to help clear up these thoughts) is a gift … and it came along at just the right time for me as I struggled to “see the light” … 

Let me walk you through a little personal example now (so perhaps you can apply this to your own life and tackle some of your OWN negative thinking patterns) …

The category? Feeding my family … 

I decided quite a while back (years ago maybe) that I didn’t enjoy cooking for my family … it takes SO MUCH TIME (and I’d really rather be doing something else) … it’s such a BIG JOB … it’s BORING … plus, it’s not a good use of my gifts and talents … of course, you can imagine my experience several times a day as I stood in the kitchen preparing meals and snacks for my family … I hate this! This sucks … no one likes what I make anyway … no one’s ever happy with what I prepare … they’re just going to complain anyway … they NEVER like what I make … this is such a thankless job … this “work” isn’t even meaningful … 

When you shine the light on these thinking patterns, it’s no wonder I was miserable so often as I prepared meals and food for my family EACH day (SEVERAL times a day) … 

Clearly, my thoughts were distorted … I was definitely disqualifying the positive (like being able to provide for my family with ease) … I focused on all the negative parts of the job … the parts I didn’t like … I was obviously doing a lot of all or nothing thinking with my “no one’s” and my “nevers”… it’s simply not true … my family does enjoy a lot of the food I prepare (though they all definitely have different likes and dislikes) … I was also magnifying the amount of work involved with preparing food … it IS a lot SOME days, but not EVERY day and there’s certainly ways of making this whole process more manageable (and more pleasant) …

As I worked through all of this, I aimed to replace these “distortions” with more rational thoughts … preparing meals DOES take some time each day, but I have the time … and it’s time that I can spend with my children (helping them learn important skills) … it’s time to think, time to reflect, time to listen … to some music maybe or a book or a podcast … the work IS meaningful … the reward is a healthy and growing family and the time we share and spend sitting and eating the food we prepared together (or that I prepared for them) … and while this isn’t my FAVOURITE use of my gifts and talents, I DO have cooking skills that I am able to employ again and again as I care for my family. There’s also always opportunity to try new things and get creative.  

Changing my thoughts about feeding my family has altered the experience entirely … it now has the potential to be a source of joy … a way of contributing … a meaningful way of spending time with and caring for the people I love … 

I have MUCH work to do yet when it comes to some of my negative thinking patterns … my distorted thoughts are not limited to the category of feeding my family … bringing awareness to these negative thinking patterns has been a gift though and knowing there’s only 10 or so to become aware of feels manageable (I hope this is true for you too) … 

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts” – Marcus Aurelius

Let’s choose HAPPINESS … let’s start tackling some of our nasty (and distorted) thoughts … let’s get back to the joy-filled life we all deserve … 

Pick a category, then get tackling … bring awareness to your thoughts, then start replacing your negative thoughts with more rational thoughts … 

You’ll be feeling better in no time! 

***

For more on this topic, read “The Three-Column Technique for Untwisting Our Thinking.” Here’s the PDF of the worksheet too (simply download, print, and complete) …

5 thoughts on “Our Thoughts Create Our Experience”

  1. I think we all fall into this trap of negative entanglement. But we definitely do NOT want to stay there. We definitely have to be intentional about changing these patterns. Thanks for being so articulate

    Like

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