In Lynne Twist’s book, The Soul Of Money, she writes:
For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.
When I first read the above quote I wanted to know how Lynne Twist knew exactly what was going on in my head everyday when I woke up. My waking up thoughts also ran along the lines of “I can’t do it,” “I don’t want to do it,” and “what’s the point of getting out of bed anyway?”
These were just thoughts and while they never actually stopped me from getting out of bed (my needy kids made sure I would get up), I’ve come to realize that at one point I truly believed these thoughts. It is no wonder that every day felt like a battle and my enthusiasm for life was gone.
Once I became aware of these negative waking thoughts, I started to keep a mental catalog of how often I had them. I started to notice them. I have to say that noticing how often my thoughts were negative was fairly depressing in itself. This led to further negative thoughts along the lines of “I must just be a negative, unmotivated person.”
I did this for a long time. I attached myself to my thoughts and used them to judge myself.
And then one day I stopped.
Because while I was noticing my negative thoughts, I was also noticing how much harder my days were. I was noticing that if I chose to do something else, and it could be anything that would stop me from buying into and believing my negative thoughts, my overall day wasn’t as hard to get through. This became a bit of a balancing act. I did not want to become too busy and lose all time for self-reflection, yet at the same time I had to learn to distance myself and not buy into my negative thoughts or I’d end up exhausted at the end of the day.
I’m not exactly sure when I stopped: a month, two months from the day I first started tracking my negative thoughts? All I know is that I did stop because now when I wake up I acknowledge those thoughts are still there and then I laugh at myself, get out of bed and get on with living the day I want to live.
When you’re in the midst of starting over and trying to change your life, it is important to recognise that the thoughts going through your head do not define you. For me, it took time and noticing to move me past getting drained and sucked into my negative thinking. Eventually something clicked.
If negative thoughts are getting you down, start noticing them and questioning them. Don’t judge yourself when you do get sunk by them and give yourself time to build a boundary between your thoughts and what defines you as you. This is just one step in helping you create and maintain the change you want in your life.