stage 07

Cultivate healthy thinking

We have decided to take action to do something to change our situation worked out how and why we want things to change. We have considered the way we should behave to make things change. Now we are going to look at the thought patterns that will help us develop the sort of healthy behaviour that will help us go past the unnecessary limitations in our lives. Unhealthy thinking needs to be replaced by healthy thinking in order for us to succeed. Yet many of us do not realise that we can change the way that we think.

a. Unhealthy thinking needs to shrink and not grow

Someone can make a casual comment that influences the way that we think and therefore how we behave. It is as if they have sown a seed into our lives, even without intending to do so. That seed grows as we dwell on it and its influence upon us increases. Whatever we feed will grow. If we feed negative thinking then it will grow. If we dwell on things that harm us then what started as a small seed can grow into a huge tree that distorts our thinking and as we said earlier, what ever we think influences what we do. It can change our behaviour until such time that we uproot it. The sooner that seed is uprooted the smaller the plant will be. Later we will look at the effects of how we interact with other people.

One form of unhealthy thinking is to expect too much of ourselves. There was one book that was intended by its author to be a joke that became popular as a handbook. The topic was how to be a woman who is able to successfully juggle all the balls in her life i.e. job, family, home and husband. The author’s hope was to show just how impossible it was to expect to be able to do it all and encourage people to calm down their expectations of themselves. However, it did not work out quite like that. So many people were seriously trying to do just that it became a best seller because people thought that it would help them cope better.

One way to test if we are expecting too much of ourselves or others is to write down all that we want to do or want them to do. When your jobs to do list spreads over 3 or 4 pages you know that there is a problem. You may discover the reason for your procrastination is not laziness but poor time management. Sometimes our perfectionism and expectation of ourselves can stop us doing things. If we think that we will not be able to do something to a high enough standard to be accepted then we wonder why bother. It can even be a scary thing to even try because it still would not make us good enough so we might as well be knocked for not doing something rather than doing something and doing it wrong. The burden of expectations can weigh us down so much that we cannot actually do anything.

We can be chased by the “hounds of more”. I once tried putting all the ideas for a business together in one file and was amazed at how many different directions that it could go. There were enough ideas in terms of social media including blogs to keep me occupied for 1 to 2 days a week. Then there was the product development which listed how one idea could develop into over 30 new products. That was before considering other aspects of marketing, legal and administrative requirements etc. etc. There were so many things that it was overwhelming. The answer has been to list it all and then to develop a plan to enable all the priority items to be achieved. Some people suggest that we should write a list of the all things that we are trying to achieve and then read it to someone else and let them judge our efforts. In my case, I did not have to read it out to anyone else before I realised how ridiculous it was. It was obvious as I was writing it. There is no way that I will be able to achieve my goals if I allow that kind of over-expectation to take control. Hence the planning and time management ideas that resulted from that exercise. I no longer needed to feel incompetent because I could not do it all. If everything was to get done I needed to either take more time or to get more help. I needed to reduce my expectations to such a level that I could be satisfied with what I could realistically achieve, In other words, break out of the unhealthy thought patterns that had started to develop.

The way to counter unhealthy thinking is to replace it with healthy thinking. If we have learnt to think in an unhealthy way then we can learn to think in an unhealthy way. What is learning?  It has been defined as any relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs as a direct result of experience.

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