Thoughts are Optional. I will say it AGAIN.
THOUGHTS ARE OPTIONAL.
These 3 simple words have the power to alter your life. How do I have the audacity to stand on my soap box, with my megaphone in hand and claim that these words will create profound change in your life? Because it will. Period.
By breaking down this relatively simple concept into small, bite size pieces it will make it easier to digest the over all profundity of the 3 words. By understanding that you have the innate choice of how you respond and process a situation can shift a bad day at the office to productive day learning how to nuance challenging conversations with colleagues. (LIFE SKILL--SCORE) With a snap of the fingers- you can go from having a bad day at work to a day of personal growth.
EXAMPLE 1: UNDERSTANDING WHAT A NUETRAL EVENT IS AND HOW TO REFRAME THIS EVENT
* A neutral event is just that. Neutral. One with out meaning. We as humans attach our own meaning to these neutral events. What if we have the power to actually change the meaning of an event? Well We Do. Read on.
NEUTRAL EVENT EXAMPLE 1 = DIRTY DISHES
Let's pull the proverbial curtain of my life back and examine a neutral event.
Example 1. Let's call this MOM CRAZINESS. Or better yet, let's call this example:
"A day in the life of Julie Lokun"
I come home from a meeting and there is a stack of dishes in the sink. Before I left the house, I had scrubbed a stack of sticky, syrupy breakfast plates and tucked them away into their proper place in the cabinets. And after 8 hours of work, I arrive home to be greeted by those exact same dishes piled high in the sink-like they are waiting for another soapy bath from me. This time, however there is a thick residue of peanut butter coating each dish. I huff and clench my jaw. My mind goes directly too- "Those little, ungrateful, selfish boys". Cortisol is released ten-fold as I am on the verge of tears. "I do everything for those boys and this is what I get!" I stomp upstairs, lock the door and lament on the trials of motherhood. But what do my words and thoughts really mean? What does this intense,
body- convulsing anger really project? Anger, on it's face, is a secondary emotion. Meaning anger does not take grip of your soul by itself--it's origins stem from another feeling, like sadness. Typically, a mentally intact human does not just get angry for no reason.
"Anger as a secondary emotion arises from such feelings of unworthiness, sadness or frustration, just to name a few. "
The words that I profess in agitation towards the humans I birthed -relatively recently, (and I mean there was a lot of pain involved in their births) are stemming from the neutral event making me feel un loved.
"They don't care about me". Those children who sometimes are brimming with hugs and laughter and inquisitive ponderings-just don't give a crap about this woman who works her butt off, chauffeurs them to and fro, periodically cooks award-winning meals and loves them to death--AND they just don't care about me".
We have the ability to chose our thoughts. We, as humans have the POWER to look at any situation and attach thoughts to that event. Again THOUGHTS ARE OPTIONAL.
So let us revisit the experience I had with the dishes, I attached this event with my personal meaning that I am unloved. That I do not matter. What if I attached the following thoughts instead?
"Wow, I am so glad that they made themselves snacks. They are really becoming more independent and learning skills necessary to be self-sufficient. As I parent, I am doing a good job". If I had attached this meaning to the neutral event, I would probably not have wasted a good hour being very upset with the perpetrators. I probably would have spent 10 minutes washing the dishes and would have enjoyed a bit of quiet time before they all arrived back home.
The key to truly harnessing your ability to attach different thoughts to events is to recognize your thought process in real time. When you realize that you are going negative--pause and rethink your guttural reaction. Now this is easier said than done--because this is a muscle that needs to be flexed repetitively. And, as a forewarning-- it is a bit awkward at first.
Visual reminders are also a critical tool that may help reinforce negative thoughts attaching to ordinary events:
I cannot conclude this diatribe without quoting Viktor Frankl. Frankl was a psychiatrist and prolific author who has inspired millions of readers over generations. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he depicts his personal experiences in the Nazi death camps. Frankl argues that it is impossible to avoid suffering, but it is up to us in how we cope with it. He believes that by adding meaning to our suffering we can move forward and overcome any hardship. And this, my dear, is what Frankl espoused ......after watching his pregnant wife and entire family slaughtered at Auschwitz. #viktorfrankl #mindset #Thoughtsareoptional #empowerment
"The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
― Viktor E. Frankl