As I got ready for the community meeting, I thought to myself, "This is going to be a waste of time. I'm not going to learn anything new. I don't trust them."
Wow, I noticed I was thinking a lot of negative thoughts. I asked myself if I should even go if that was the attitude I was bringing into the room. Just asking myself that question allowed me to pay attention to my thoughts and make the choice to go with a more open mind. Then I was able to listen with less judgement and without my mind already made up. I actually heard and saw some interesting things that were new to me.
One of my clients is a tennis player. After he told me how he got mad at himself after a shot, I asked him when does he say positive thoughts to himself on the court? He looked at me like I was crazy. He then said, "Never." After further exploration, he realized that he did think some positive thoughts; however, not very often.
So, he is trying an experiment. He is going to try to observe his thinking on the court. When he catches himself getting mad at himself, he is going to try to turn that around and give himself encouragement instead. He decided to remind himself what he wants to do with the shot rather than what he doesn't want to do. Say to himself, "You can do it."
Will this improve his tennis game? I am thinking that it will. At least he may have more fun playing. I'll let you know after he has time to practice this new way of thinking. Because changing our thoughts takes time, both on and off the court.
The first step is to notice. What am I thinking? It helps to give yourself a specific topic to focus on. For example, what am I thinking when I get in my car to go to work, or when I pick up the kids from day camp? Just notice.
Once you have noticed, you might ask yourself if that is a thought you want to have at that moment. If yes, great! If not, what other thought might you want to hold in your mind? How might this new thought lead to a different feeling/conversation/outcome?
Then practice. Just like learning a new backhand stroke in tennis, learning to observe your thoughts and perhaps change them takes practice.
What new thought would you like to practice?