We have over 60,000 thoughts per day – 60,000! Most of them are zooming around in our brain, below our level of consciousness. They’re firing off on “autopilot” and (usually) telling us the same things they’ve always told us.
Your thoughts are what you use to interpret and make sense of the world, and when they are functioning automatically, they create and reinforce tunnel vision (or patterns of doing and thinking about things in the same way we always have).
“This is good.”
“This is dangerous.”
“I can ace this!”
“I’ll never lose the weight.”
“I am addicted to French fries.”
“I have to do more.”
Imagine (hypothetically) that you woke up in 2021 determined to change your eating. No more overeating and emotional eating for you!
Now tell me the first 5-10 thoughts you had about this.
Better yet, write them down.
What’s the tone? Are they confident, encouraging, upbeat, or oppressive? What kind of action are they likely to inspire?
Let’s fast forward.
Now, you’re two weeks into your plan. If you’ve been trying to make changes with food (or any type of changes), write down 5-10 thoughts you’ve had about this today.
“This is easy.”
“I need chocolate.”
“This is taking too much time.”
“I’m doing it!”
“I will never be able to have just one.”
“I need to do more.”
“I miss pizza!”
“I can’t do this.”
Again, what’s the tone? Are your thoughts (your interpretations of reality) likely to nurture feelings of confidence or empowerment, or are your thoughts dragging you down?
Are they victim thoughts?
“This is so hard.”
“Why can’t I just eat whatever I want?”
“I’ll always have to struggle if I want to see results.”
“I only lost five pounds.”
Or CEO thoughts?
“I lost five pounds!”
“I can figure this out.”
“I love the way Monday went and now I understand why Tuesday was kind of a flop.”
“I bet I can make this plan fit me better.”
As our motivation lags, our thoughts tend to become more negative, victim-like, and demotivating. And as our thoughts become more negative and passive, they influence the way we feel and the actions we take (or don’t take). Oh – and that motivation? It’s fueled by the thoughts we’ve been thinking.
It’s a vicious or a fantastic cycle – depending on your thoughts. Your thoughts can fuel you toward your goal or can lead you to plummet to a crash landing. Your thoughts – the stories you tell yourself in your head about your circumstances – influence your feelings. Your feelings (excitement or anxiety, optimism or guilt, etc.) influence the actions that you see possible and that you decide to take.
Most approaches to change don’t pay much attention to your thoughts. And that’s a huge mistake.
If we continue to think the same old thoughts, we continue to have the same old feelings, and we continue to see and to choose the same old actions.
Take a look at the thoughts you’ve been thinking. Is there room for improvement? What new thoughts would you like to use to refocus your mind so that this year, you can take new, better action?