THOUGHTS 101

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Thoughts.

We have around 60,000 a day, but how many of those are we even aware of?

And yet your thoughts dictate everything… how you feel, what actions you take or don’t take, and what results you have or lack in your life.

If a “bad” event happens to you, your electricity is turned off because you forgot to pay your bills, someone makes fun of you, you lose your job, or even an accident…

It is NOT THE EVENT that then makes you feel a certain way such as sad or embarrassed, but rather YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THAT EVENT, immediately after.

How do we know that this is true?

Just look around and see how differently we can all react to the same event… be it small, such as having to speak in front of a group, or big, such as 9/11. Most of us felt that it was one of the worst tragedies. However, others, like terrorists, were cheering it on around the world. And some others may have been indifferent to it, especially if they lived far away from the US.

We all interpret events our own unique ways.

So, for our family Courageous Girls Club meeting we covered this concept again, as it is one of the most fundamental issues to remind them of as they mature throughout the years.

There are different models you can use, such as this one from GoZen:

EVENTS (lead to) THOUGHTS (which lead to) REACTIONS

Another one from The Life Coach School is this:

CIRCUMSTANCES (can trigger) THOUGHTS (which cause) FEELINGS (which cause) ACTIONS (creating) RESULTS

(Click on either link above to see a video on both models for much deeper explanation.)

Once you start understanding this concept, you realize that this is actually really powerful news.

If you know that it was your THOUGHTS that caused you to feel sad, and not the event, then you can make up your own mind about how you truly want to feel about it. This doesn’t mean that you may not want to feel deeply sad when someone dies. Of course that’s probably what you would choose in that event. However, do we really need to feel angry when someone cuts us off? And do we need to be sad, when a friend tells us we can’t play with them? Or is there a better way to feel in that moment and react in an assertive way?

Because everything you feel is a choice.

However, over our lifetime, our Mammalian brain has memorized how we usually react to things, (as well as how others react to similar events, and how the world tells us to react to circumstances.) So while you might be thinking that you are choosing your own reactions, most likely you are just repeating your past reactions, as your brain quickly fires up to tell you how you usually feel in similar circumstances. Yup, you usually don’t raise your hand in new situations, so definitely don’t raise it now either. It’s too scary. You might die in the process.

So you need to learn to separate yourself from your automatic thoughts and decide what you want to think ON PURPOSE.

To any event or circumstance, even if you didn’t have the greatest first reaction, you can always ask:

How do I really want to feel about this situation?

The point is not to not feel negative emotions, but rather to choose it on purpose, versus your brain guiding you there subconsciously. Is this emotion truly serving me, or would a different feeling help me more?

I find this idea, that I can create my own feelings so incredibly powerful. I’m not at the mercy of my brain to see how I’ll feel tomorrow. But I have true control over how I will feel tomorrow. You don’t have to wait for the world to change to get the feelings that you want.

If I need energy tomorrow to get things done, I can create through my thoughts feelings that give off energy… such as excitement, determination, commitment. Each of those emotions is based on a thought. In advance, I can create thoughts that I know will help me get to my goal the next day. It just takes a little prep work.

Questions for you:

  1. What are the 3 emotions you usually feel throughout your day?

2. And what 3 emotions would you rather feel?

The point to all of this is that you and your daughter(s) want to write the stories in your life on purpose. And you have much more power over that than you might imagine. So create it in a way that you are choosing your own actions and results, not based on how you’ve reacted in the past, but rather what serves you the most in the present moment and choose that on purpose.

While you might think this is a confusing topic to cover with our girls, we helped our discussion with this video series through GoStrengths (Chapter 2, GoAwareness.) It costs money, but we’ve found it very much to be worth it for our family. It goes through the E-T-R model, self-talk, and many other things.

So the photo on top is an illustration of the power of our thoughts. My eldest daughter had the idea to give most of her Halloween candy away to college students in our town. Her happy thoughts about it fueled her excitement, so much so that she decided to collect leftover Halloween candy from our neighbors the day after Halloween, in order to be able to give away even more. We talked through the different reactions that greeted her behind each door - which ranged from complete bafflement to sure, I’ll give you some candy - and in turn how those made her feel (from self-doubt to excited.) In the end, she had quite a few bags full of goodies. She really wanted to do this on her own with no sisters in attendance (at least for the first hour as a compromise), so her and Jonathan went to campus, and after a few trials, landed in the right spot at the Undergraduate Library.

She set up and waited for customers… I didn’t get there until later, so this picture is obviously from after her 1st hour alone.

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But, what was really cool is that she felt proud that “this was my idea - I didn’t read about it anywhere else.” This thought, as it turns out, was her fuel and compelling reason that got her through the many downs… of not having enough candy, some people laughing at her idea, many closed doors, and even not being able to find a good spot. But that thought gave her energy and determination to get over the obstacles.

One powerful thought that truly spoke to her.

So yes, you can create any feeling in your life, such as excitement, through your thoughts in your head which turn into actions in your life. The trick is, not to let self-doubt or other people’s opinion replace your excitement with fear and take you back to your comfort zone instead. So choose thoughts that fuel your actions, no matter what.

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The quote of the day was:

“Free food is good. But free candy is even better.” -from one satisfied customer.

I think she may have found an annual tradition. :-)

We ended our family CGC meeting with 2 fun games. The first game was imported from my husband’s recent trip to France, and the other just came up from our kids, as they were reminded of a game they learned at school.

Game 1 - 5 animals

Stand in a circle, and you can be one of 5 animals. Fish, tiger, cobra, bunny, and dinosaur. You have a unique hand signal for each animal. On the count of 3, everyone picks one of the animals and shows it at the exact same time. Each time, one person is the IT, and if you do the exact same animal as that person, then you are out. (You basically just go around the circle and choose the IT that way. It helped when the IT is the one who counts to 3, so that we all knew who it was in each round.) The last one standing, wins. It’s a funny game, and you can also come up with your own animals and signals. But here are some of them…

FISH

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DINOSAUR

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COBRA

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The last two are fairly obvious: the bunny is just making bunny ears. And the tiger is just as you’d imagine… rah!

Game 2 - Moo!

Stand in a circle once again, everyone looking down at the floor. At the count of 3 you all look up and choose to look at one specific person in the circle. If that one person is also looking at you, you say Moo, and whoever said it second loses and leaves the circle. It’s pretty simple and funny… Try it out!

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