I’ve been thinking a lot about thoughts lately (anyone who has worked with me will NOT be surprised by this!)
When it comes to our thoughts, most of us think that what’s going on in our mind is the same as what’s going on in the external world. We’re conditioned to think that by controlling the world, we can feel good…that this is somehow the goal. When we learn that this is not so, we can pause and stop running ourselves ragged trying to control our experience by attempting to manipulate things outside of us as a way to feel better. How do we do this?
We try to get the right job.
We try to get the right mate.
We try to get the right body.
We try to get the right amount of money.
So we strive and search, believing that if we just could get abs, if we could just find the right partner, if we could just make more money, if we could just get more successful in business, if we moved to a better house, then everything would be so much better.
We would be able to feel better about our lives.
Most of the people who hire me as their coach have all of that. They’re smart, they’re professionals doing great things in the world, many have a partner and a family, some have run marathons etc. They seem to have a lot of things dialed in and figured out, and yet they’re still not happy.
Because of this belief we’re taught—that happiness comes from something outside of ourselves, we spend our lives looking for it. We’re fed a steady diet of this belief from the time we’re young—television, movies, advertising, this is how it’s perpetuated.
If you just work hard, get a good education, find the right job, discover your purpose. This one really gets me (and yes, I’m a career counsellor) but being told that if you just find your purpose, you’ll be able to be happy in your life is incredibly misleading.
It’s no wonder that so many of us are completely confused, overwhelmed, and exhausted from taking action in the world because we’re doing so much and not getting the feelings that we want.
Of course, the reality is that none of that outside stuff controls how we feel.
I know it really seems like when you got the “dream” job, you felt better. When you found your true love, you felt better. I get it. It really feels like that’s true.
I know this is mind bendy.
It’s also the best news ever.
The outside things don’t control how we feel, these factual things don’t do that. They don’t cause feelings. It’s only what we think about these facts that do. What you think about those things is what determines how you feel. Not the facts themselves. These are all neutral.
It’s always your mind that makes you feel good. Your husband is probably lovely but he’s not what causes your happiness (or unhappiness). This is why one of the best things you can learn is how to tell the difference between what’s happening in the world and your thought about it.
This might not be news for some of you. If you’ve ever worked with a therapist who used Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), you might already know that our thoughts cause our feelings. You might understand this intellectually but when you start to see how often you believe that other people, your past, or a situation in the world is responsible for how you feel your eyes will open wide. It’s usually not until someone points this out to us that we realize how tricky it can be so separate our thoughts from fact.
One of the best skills you can learn, in my opinion is how to separate your thoughts from fact. Because when you learn how to do this you quit arguing with reality and reduce your suffering immensely. This is part of what I teach people and it’s how I coach.
So, what I’m going to leave you with now is this…you are much bigger and more powerful than your current situation.
You are not only a product of your environment. You are so much bigger and so much more magnificent.
Ready to reduce job stress, bounce back from job loss, and manage the fear and anxiety of career change or business start up? Ready to feel better about work? Schedule a call with me and we'll talk about your situation and how I can help.