Happy spring y’all! We cut our first daffodils from the yard yesterday. And by we, I mean my three-year-old yanked them out and brought them to me. They now rest in a vase in the middle of our counter, reminding us of this season of things blooming anew. This is our first spring in our new house, so each day brings a new discovery of plants emerging from the damp soil and anticipation for what our yard could look like over the next number of years.
And speaking of such amazing things, I hosted another Joy Journeys workshop this weekend with some truly incredible women. There is something so powerful about being in unity with others, able to share your excitement and fears and knowing that you aren’t alone in some of your struggles. Oh, and that there are amazing other people around you trying to live into their joy every single day.
One of the things that I always think about after the workshop is how to help attendees stick with what they had planned. We set goals with timelines and account-a-bil-a-buddies to create structured action and keep positive momentum, and I’m hopeful that we have laid enough foundation for action, while knowing when we walk out of those magical spaces and times, we have to be intentional with small steps toward change.
As I crawled into bed last night, I was looking forward to finishing a book by master certified coach Susan Hyatt called BARE. She had some pretty incredible insights into how to clear out those thoughts that are dragging you down, those same types of thoughts that can make change hard. Hyatt shares a quote from author Byron Katie that ROCKED. MY. WORLD. Katie said, “You don’t have to believe all of your thoughts.” Um, hello! What a divine, amazing, earth shattering insight?!?! While it seems so obvious, how often do we let the thoughts in our heads become our beliefs, actions, and lived truths? Hyatt goes on to share an example of her own negative thought and posses the question, “How do you react, and what happens, when you believe that thought?” Then, even more powerfully, she asks, “Who would you be without this thought?” Wow. What would happen if we took just one negative thought that perpetually crosses our mind and banished it? Who would you be then? How would you show up differently in the world?
Hyatt shares some great practical ways of banishing negative thoughts. I dare you to pick one and try it this week:
1. Reframe them.Take that same thought, but change the words and transform it into self-love.Transform the statement into something filled with encouragement and compassion.For example, what if you believed you were terrible at public speaking?
Ex: I am a horrible public speaker!
Reframe: There have been times when I have struggled speaking in front of groups. But, the feedback from presentations has consistently been good and others have told me that they didn’t even notice my nerves. I can think back to those times when I did a great job with a presentation, and I’ll use those same methods to prepare and nail this speech as well.
2. Grab it- Hyatt shares a technique from a woman named Nicole Antoinette where you pretend a harmful thought is a cute little puppy. Who doesn’t love puppies, and yet, puppies can be mischievous, naughty and in need of discipline! Hyatt writes, “Grab it! Say NO!Then carry that puppy to its bed, crate, or outside play area. Set it down. Pet its fluffy head. Remind the puppy that it’s not allow to run wild inside your mind like that. Stay. Good dog.” Be the boss of that puppy/thought!
3. Punch it- Really, punch the heck out of it. Get a pillow, punching bag, whatever it takes (but not something that hurts you or others) and physically pound on that negative thought. Research shows that within a few minutes, people feel a shift in their mind and body toward positivity. Literally beat the you know what out of that negative thought!
4. Disprove it- When you see that negative thought creep in, gather ALL the evidence that it’s untrue. Then create a defense attorney style argument including ALL the facts and actual behaviors you already DO that disprove that negative thought. Because reality is much better evidence than sneaky thoughts.
5. Shelve it- When you see that negative thought creep in, put it in a box, and shove it on a back shelf in a deep closet. Set it aside until you are in a better heart and mind space to address it.You aren’t ignoring or pretending it doesn’t exist. You are just being the boss and telling that thought you don’t have the time to deal with it productively now, and you go back to it later when you are in a better space to do something positive with it. Can I just say that my therapist approves of this one too?
6. Bounce it- Like a bouncer at an exclusive night club, tell that thought that it isn’t allowed in and tell it to get the heck out. It’s positive thoughts only night at this club, and they’re inside having one hell of a party! Adios negative thought!
Can I tell you one of the things I love most about what Hyatt lays out? Her methods don’t ignore that the thought existed in the first place. They acknowledge the negative thought, and then they do something about it. Sometimes we just try to pretend those negative thoughts don’t exist, and frankly, my dear, that rarely if ever works. Instead, by having that moment of acknowledgement saying “Oh yes, I see you” and CHOOSING our response of reframing/grabbing/disapproving/shelving/punching/bouncing or whatever method works for you, we are the empowered boss of our thoughts.
Remember: Just because a thought crosses our brain doesn’t mean we have to believe it.