Isn’t it interesting how much time and energy people will spend organizing closets, washing windows and throwing out surplus items from their garage when Spring fever hits, yet never stop to take the time to clear out negative thoughts or limiting thinking? Those self-sabotaging subtleties that prevent them from living a life filled with clarity, purpose and joy. As the seasons change and the birds begin to sing, the weather warms and the trees bloom, it’s the perfect time for you to purge your mind of stinking thinking.
Where to begin? The first step in the quest for a mental un-cluttering is Awareness. Recognizing and realizing when your inner critic shows up, invites himself in and starts chirping about your abilities. “You can’t do that!” “You’re too old to change careers.” “You’re not smart enough to start your own business.” All LIES (Limiting Ideas Eliminate Success) to strip your confidence and cause you to take a step back, do nothing, and play it safe. Lies that get you to quit before you begin. Lies covertly protecting you from harm when in truth they are causing you continuing unnecessary pain.
Play a game with yourself and notice how many times the liar pops up on a daily basis to make you feel guilty (“I yelled at my kids, I’m a horrible parent”), to make you doubt yourself (“I better not ask for a raise, it’s not a good time”), or to make you play small (“Even though my company pays for university classes, I can’t handle the homework”). Pay careful attention to the distinction between the fact and the falsity. The truth is you raised your voice at your children, but it doesn’t necessarily make you a bad parent – that’s the lie. The truth is you may have to adjust your schedule, ask for help, or be tutored to manage college homework, but that you can’t handle it – there’s the lie. The truth is you’ve managed everything that has shown up in your life thus far. Why couldn’t you deal with this one too?
Becoming aware of how these LIES control your decisions is critical to making positive change. However, awareness is not enough to silence those destructive, derailing thoughts. Cleaning your mind to reflect the real you also requires Asking. Ask yourself where you’re “at”, between the “a” of being afraid and the “t” of trusting. The only way you are going to squelch the lies is to honestly answer the question “What are you afraid of?” or “Why don’t you trust yourself on this one?”
Chances are you will come up with two or three of the same reasons every time. And typically, they are related to approval (somebody else’s) or appearances (what will people think), accuracy (what if you’re wrong), or alienation (it’s lonely at the top).
Ask yourself, “Why don’t I give myself the kudos I seek from others?” What makes you think others notice anyway? What´s worse? Being wrong or not trying? News flash: You’re not alone. Everybody has doubts and fears. Everybody has stuff they need to clean up and work through despite how outwardly organized they appear. Most people keep shoving their true feelings back into their psychological closet instead of acknowledging the reality of their circumstance. Discarding the limiting thinking opens up and releases space for clear and positive reasoning. It’s this release that allows you to breathe life and energy back into your spirit.
There’s no time like the present to get real. Dust off your Authenticity and genuinely acknowledge your fears – “face the truth, embrace the excuse”. Allow your humanness. The process is similar to getting rid of old clothes that no longer fit, no longer represent your style or never really felt comfortable. Once you’ve tackled the task of separating the actual from the sentimental, you’re already feeling better about your potential. Letting go of thoughts that never appropriately served you frees up space and energy to go after what you now know you want.
But hold on! Just because you’ve come clean doesn’t mean you’re done. Like garages needing constant maintenance to stay orderly and neat, your mind requires continuing Accountability to discern and decipher your LIES. Consider making daily deposits into your emotional bank account. Why? If you’re like most people, you’re probably emotionally bankrupt when it comes to giving yourself the approval and support you deserve. Every time your inner critic starts chirping a restrictive or negative comment, stop the withdrawal and start the rationale.
For example, your supervisor sends an email asking you to deliver a short presentation to the entire team on the new computer software. Your inner critic immediately goes into overdraft: “You are a horrible speaker. You don’t know the new system that well; you’re going to look like a loser in front of everyone!” Immediately cancel that transaction and speak your truth: “I am capable and responsible.” “I have delivered effective presentations before.” Remind yourself of the time you taught a couple of colleagues how to work the new phone system. “I am knowledgeable.” You do know more about the computer software than others in your office. Why make three deposits? One to balance the withdrawal you just made, and two more to account for the years of withdrawals and debits.
To stop going through the motions and the e-motions of stinking thinking, you’re going to have to develop a new LIAR (Let’s Inspire Another Response) approach. Anchor your intentions and attract your desired results with positive language. Affirmation is attitude expressed. Rather than say “I should exercise” or “I’ll try to be more assertive at work,” substitute choose, will or want. “I will exercise.” “I choose to speak up at work.” “I want to make this change.” These deliberative, action-oriented words state a positive intention that unfreezes the emotional bank account and creates movement in the direction of accomplishing your goals.
The next time you are overlooked for an assignment you desired, rather than say, “There’s nothing I can do about it,” invoke the LIAR approach. Rephrase your self-talk to “I have choices and I accept that things happen for the best.” Repeat. “I have choices and I accept that things happen for the best.” These words empower rather than disable. Will you choose to have a professional conversation with your supervisor? Will you choose to enroll in a class to update your skills and increase your opportunities?
Remember, our minds can only hold one thought at a time. You have the Authority to select any thought at any given moment and the ability to control where it leads. You decide what to keep and what to toss, whether it will focus on your gifts and incredible talents. Grab the Windex, wipe off the mirrors of your mind and see clearly how bright and brilliant you are meant to be.
– Colette Carlson