If you think about it carefully you will, I am sure, appreciate that the process of thinking is really a process of asking and answering questions in your mind. Perhaps not everything you think is in the form of a question or answer. You may ‘think a statement’ like “That’s a really beautiful view” for instance, but that thought is really just the answer to a question “What do I like about that view?”
So, if the process of thinking involves continually asking questions and seeking answers, it follows that if we are regularly asking the wrong questions then that is likely to contribute to disempowering beliefs and have an overall negative effect on us.
Let me give you an example of what I mean:
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.”
– Henry Ford
Candice is alone at home busy cooking a meal for her family when she drops and smashes an expensive dish. Her immediate thought is “Why am I so clumsy?” and her brain quickly finds the answers: “Because you were born that way” and “Because that’s just who you are”.
A couple of days later when Candice is asked out by her best friend to go roller skating she answers: “Oh, no thanks, I’m hopeless at roller skating – I’m just so clumsy!”
Negative questions attract negative answers:
The point here is that when you ask yourself negative or disempowering questions, you are tasking your brain to find appropriate answers and examples … and these, in turn, provide the foundations for a limiting belief.
A limiting belief, for those not used to the term, is a belief that you may hold that, by its very nature, limits your growth and development.
In Candice’s case this would be a belief that she was born a clumsy person.
And so it is that habitual ‘negative’ thinking (in other words, asking yourself disempowering questions) leads to the formation of limiting beliefs.
And it doesn’t stop there.
When you have limiting beliefs, they tend to focus your mind on what is wrong with you or with your life or with life in general. Then you start to ask more disempowering questions of yourself and … guess what … you get more disempowering answers!
Can you see that this is the start of a very vicious cycle?
Positive questions attract positive answers:
The opposite side of the coin presents a much rosier picture.
If we can get into the habit of asking ourselves positive, empowering questions, then our brains will constantly be finding the appropriate positive, empowering answers. These will lead to the establishment of empowering beliefs and the personal growth and development that comes from this.
Changing a habit:
Of course, changing a habit is not like flipping a switch. Even once you become aware of your habit of asking disempowering questions, it takes some time to arrest and change that habit – 21 days is the norm.
So what can you do in the interim?
Tone and emphasis:
One technique that works well is to simply change the ‘tone’ with which you ask yourself incriminating questions and/or change where you place the emphasis in your question.
No, I haven’t gone totally loopy here. Please bear with me!
Whereas tone and emphasis is normally something you associate with the spoken word, it also applies to the ‘thought’ word.
When last did you think something to yourself like: “Why am I am such an idiot?”
The chances are that your unspoken tone was pretty harsh. In fact, if you’re like most, you may well have added a little colour to your self-incrimination:
“Why am I such a *@%%* idiot?”
Also, the likelihood is that you lay specific emphasis on the word idiot just to ram it home to yourself.
As you’ve been reading this you have probably played the thought “Why am I am such a *@%%* idiot?” over in your own mind.
Good, now try this:
Think the same thing again but this time change the emphasis away from ‘idiot’ (or the profanity) and sing your thought melodically in your mind:
♫♫♫ “Why am I am such an *@%%* idiot?” ♫♫♫
(Isn’t it wonderful that we can sing to ourselves silently without attracting derision or hysterical laughter from others!)
I think you’ll agree that this feels a lot less self-deprecating and a lot more like you’re enjoying a bit of light hearted banter with yourself. Not so?
Messing with your brain (in a nice way):
What’s happening here is that you are literally messing with your brain’s ability to connect that fundamentally disempowering thought to a limiting belief.
In other words you are taking away the negative power of that thought!
It is my pleasure to introduce to you another simple life coaching technique today. I hope you have found it both useful and a bit of fun!