I was having one of those Mondays: low energy, not super motivated. A big case of the Blahs. Outside, the skies were white and smoky from the surrounding fires, transforming a pretty summer day into a sci-fi setting for a nuclear fall-out movie. Inside I was moping around, migrating from living room to kitchen to my office, snacking on leftover pancakes and plums, passing my husband in the hallway with a long face and sloped shoulders.
Things worsened after I got off a phone conversation with a friend who is an accomplished and ambitious business woman. I started comparing myself to her.
THE COMPARISON GAME IS NO FUN AT ALL.
And yet, it seduces me like a siren song again and again.
Resulting thoughts zoomed around inside my head like the busy-bee cars in Go, Dog. Go!:
“Why aren’t I farther along?”
“What have I been doing with myself?”
“I haven’t I been getting out there this summer, making more connections!”
The reasonable side of me—the inner diplomat—answered with: It’s OK, you’ve been gone a lot this summer, and with family which is important, and the surgery had a slower-than-expected recovery process. In light of it all, you’ve rocked it!
Self-directed pep talk did not work.
Still felt crappy and loser-y and blah.
I roamed through the house, shuffling between rooms, the thoughts moving with me the way the dust cloud collects around Pig Pen.
“Lazy. Loser-y. Why aren’t you farther along?”
Then, as I scuffled to the bathroom a nugget of wisdom pierced through my thick black cloud:
Psst! You know you don’t have to believe your thinking.
I could feel the muscles in my face relax. Of course!
I DON’T HAVE TO BELIEVE MY THINKING!
I’m feeling bad not because of my thoughts—but because I’m believing them.
I NEVER HAVE TO BELIEVE MY THINKING!
The thoughts about being lazy, not being farther along in my writing or my business: they're not grounded in any reality. Fake news, people!
Funnily enough, I talk to people about this all day long. Thoughts are a transient weather system, part of the human experience (70,000 thoughts a day) and we can orient ourselves away from the buzz of our inner dialog, toward something more neutral (like ignoring them) or different (like smiling at your husband, which was my first step). In short: our thoughts are not the truth, but powerful mirages that trick us into believing the B.S. they’re serving.
An example of reorienting yourself happened the day I was talking with a friend in our Red Chair Café. We leaned in toward each other in our Adirondack chairs while some very loud blowing instrument was making a racket down the street. It was there, we heard it, it was annoying, but we didn’t let it deter us from our great conversation. That’s where we were oriented: toward the conversation, not the noise.
(BTW: I’m not lumping insights, creative bursts, reflective wisdom or gut knowing into thinking. When we’re free of our thinking, we’re more available to visitations from our natural intelligence.)
And so it was with my Monday. It wasn't the apocalyptic haze from the surrounding forest fires, or a body still in recovery mode, or any other excuse I could dig up. I had a leaf blower going crazy in my mind with negative thinking about: How I was doing; Where I should be going; Why wasn’t I more like my awesome superwoman friend? Until I remembered:
I don’t have to listen to or believe my thinking!
You don’t have to listen to or believe your thoughts. Nobody does! What’s even better is: You don’t have to do anything about your thinking, other than be aware that you are a human experiencing your thoughts—and carry on. Know that the thoughts will pass on their own—even more quickly if you don’t intervene with fancy thought-management systems. PHEW!
My coach and I just came up with a line for when we’re down-and-out believing our thinking and, then get a clue.
“Holy F#$%balls It’s Just My Thinking!”
Feel free to use it if it helps.
If you feel like your thinking has you in a vice grip, and you don't understand how to turn away from the siren song of your thoughts, let's talk, no strings attached. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get you some thinking relief STAT.