Changing your thinking can change your life.

IMG_0430

Change your thinking

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking. (Dangerous territory, I know.) But I’m becoming conscious everyday of the fact that I am in control of my own thinking, and when I decide to change my thinking, I can alter the outcome or result of my actions or my mood.

We all create our own thoughts and it’s genuinely becoming clearer to me that what we’ve been told all along is true – negative thoughts bring on negative situations, while positive thoughts bring about good ones.

It might sound a little airy-fairy (oh christ she’s on one again) but seriously, bare with me.

I recently read the below example in a book titled ‘Say Yes to Life’ (yes, I wish I’d written it!) which totally had me relating to it and realising just what a significant difference our thoughts can make to how we behave, and ultimately to how we live our lives:

You go into the staff canteen at lunch time and sit down at a table where other staff members are talking animatedly about the previous night’s soccer game.

You sit there for a few minutes; nobody talks to you.

You begin to think, They’re ignoring me. They must find me very boring. They probably didn’t want me to sit down here in the first place.

These thoughts lead to a rush of feelings, including sadness, disappointment and anger, embarrassment and humiliation.

You react by keeping your head down, hoping no-one will notice. You gulp your lunch down quickly and leave the table as soon as possible. As you leave the canteen, you vow never to go there again and always eat your lunch at your desk thereafter.

So we feel what we feel because of the way we think, and this influences how we behave!

Now here’s the same scenario but with different thoughts.

You go into the staff canteen at lunchtime and sit down at a table where other staff members are talking animatedly about the previous night’s soccer game.

You sit there for a few minutes; nobody talks to you.

This time, your thoughts are, Gosh, these guys are so passionate about that game that they didn’t even notice I sat down. It must have been quite a match, I wish I’d have seen it.

You feel interested and curious. You remain at the table eating your lunch and enjoy listening to the passionate exchanges. After a while, you begin to join in by asking a question about the score. You chat away with the group until it is time to return to work.

Same scenario, two totally different outcomes because of the different thoughts. 

I recognised this situation on a number of occasions and I’m sure many of us have experienced something similar before.

I decided to put this new thinking into practise. So at a recent event, amongst 200 people of whom I knew two (and they were running around far too much for me to follow them without them noticing) I had to speak to new people.

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE talking to new people. But sometimes, I might have a crazy little thought that maybe they won’t enjoy talking to me. (I know, right, of course they would! Thanks guys.) But there’s the first problem, I’ve created this habitual thought that they might not.

So a couple of times – rather than going through that horrendous feeling when you’re standing on your own in a room full of people and the only thing to look at is your phone (but you are in a different country so no-one back home is awake and free to speak to so you’re really just staring at a blank screen in the hope that no-one thinks you’re a total loser and figures you must have friends because you’re texting them on your phone) – yeah, rather than going through that, I was desperate to just hide in the toilets until it was time to go into the theatre where there was no pressure to talk to anyone.

BUT instead of hiding in the toilets (for any longer than five minutes anyway) I stood on my own, and instead of looking at my phone, I looked around, and I saw lots of other people standing on their own and looking at their phones as well and I wondered if they were dying slightly inside too. So I thought I’d just find out and I went over for a chat with the first sorry victim I could find.

I think it was a look of relief on the lady’s face when I went over and I wondered whether she too had in fact been dying a little inside at standing alone. But whether she had been or not, now she was trapped muahaha there we were, standing and chatting and no longer alone.

Because there’s always someone just like you to team up with.

And when I’d done it once, well the rest of the day was a breeze. I think they call it networking, darrrling. In fact, I came away from the event with lots of new contacts, new information, interesting things I’d learned AND no-one dashed off to the loo mid-sentence or fell asleep while I was chatting. So that’s good.

And I guess the next time I’m thrown amongst 200 strangers I’ll be eager to talk their ears off too. Y’kno, cos’ I can.

Although the ladies toilets is one of the top places for discovering things about people that they’d probably never share in any other environment, if I had have hidden in there for the day, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have learned quite as much.

 

Have you experienced something similar? Have you recognised that just changing your thinking can change your life? Let me know!

 

x

 

If you’re anything like me, thinking about thinking can sometimes get all too much! But talking about it helps. Get in touch at  littleredfrench@gmail.com and let’s talk thinking!

Or leave a comment below:

Some things never change.

Get it together

When I was 12 years old, I remember thinking 24 was the age I’d have it all figured out. I was sure I’d know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I was adamant I’d be bloody loaded, and positive that I’d be so totally grown up that I wouldn’t even dream of caring what anyone thought of me.

Well, 24 arrived this month, and to my surprise I didn’t wake up on my birthday and suddenly have my shit together.

What’s worse, is that when I think about it, my 12 year old perspective of the world and of myself, hasn’t actually changed a lot.

You see, when I was 12, I never thought at the age of 24:

  • That I’d still look in the mirror and immediately focus on the bits I hate.
  • That I’d still look in the mirror and hate anything at all.
  • That I’d still be hurt by girls because of boys.
  • That I’d still be hurt by girls because of girls.
  • That I’d still have a burning desire in many a situation to storm off screaming ‘I can’t do it!’
  • That the sound of my mother asking me to sort out laundry would still provoke the want to foot stamp and slam a door.
  • That I’d still have to book in an evening to tidy my bedroom.
  • That I’d still have a messy bedroom.
  • That I’d still cry, on a weekly basis, just because.
  • That I’d still worry about what to wear to parties.
  • That sometimes the only thing to make a bad day better would still be a hug from my mum.
  • That I’d still be questioning the stupidity of the male species.
  • That I’d still be wondering if I was clever enough, or pretty enough, or interesting enough, or thin enough.

 

These are the sort of worries that at high school were simply blamed on hormones and teenage tantrums and they would undoubtedly be ‘grown out of’. But the world failed to mention that they were all in fact to blame on this crazy little thing called life. Or more specifically, this crazy little thing called being a woman. And that they probably wouldn’t go away, ever.

Don’t get me wrong though, some things may not have changed much compared to half of my lifetime ago, but what has changed significantly is the way I handle those things (thank goodness):

  • When I look in the mirror I do focus on the bits I hate, but that’s before I force myself to look at the bits I appreciate.
  • I don’t think I’ll ever not hate something about myself, sadly I think it’s embedded into female DNA, but luckily I’ve learnt to love a lot of things to counteract it.
  • If a girl hurts me because of a boy, they’re probably not worth my time or a place in my life.
  • If a girl hurts me because of a girl, they’re probably no good for me.
  • When I do want to storm off screaming ‘I can’t do it,’ I’ll stick it out until I realise that I can.
  • When my mother asks me to do the laundry – to be honest, I think that will always provoke a foot stamp, but I appreciate the need for chores (I think.)
  • Tidy room, tidy mind (isn’t that what ‘they’ say?) I put aside time every once in a while to organise my busy life before I go crazy, and a tidy room is just a little part of that.
  • Being messy – it will never change, but, as above, I keep it under control when I can.
  • Crying on a weekly basis – for me, it’s a mental and physical release, and if I didn’t do it my head would explode. So there.
  • I think I’ll always worry about what to wear to parties, to go out, to go to work, to go to the gym – but once I’ve made the decision and stuck to it confidently, well I’d say that’s a pretty grown up thing to do.
  • Men are loveable idiots – the sooner I learn to accept their stupidity the better.
  • I’ll always need a hug from my mum, some things just never change.
  • And as for being clever enough, or pretty enough, or interesting enough, or thin enough – although I’ll never know what ‘enough’ really is, and realistically I may not ever be it, what I have learnt is that being ‘me’ is just fine.

Wait a minute – maybe I do have my shit together after all.

On running – it sends me crazy and keeps me sane.

running

I could never understand those people that said ‘running changed me.’ I just didn’t get it. How could the sound of your pounding elephant feet, the feel of your tight burning lungs or the look of your blotchy red skin possibly be a part of something that made you feel good?

So yeah, it turns out, running changed me.

Now this might seem dramatic (dramatic? me? no way!) but because running is more of a mind game than anything else, it means the more you run, the more you realise how powerful your mind is, and more importantly that you can control it.

You thought it impossible to have an argument in your own head, with yourself? Try going for a run.

Good brain: You are doing so well!

Bad brain: You’re not going very fast, you might as well give up.

Good brain: You can’t give up now, look how far you’ve come!

Bad brain: Your legs hurt and you’ve done a bit now so you should just walk the rest.

Good brain: It’s OK to go at your own pace, just whatever you do, don’t stop!

Bad brain: You’re rubbish and it hurts too much – you should definitely stop!

So this imaginary conversation fills my mind with just about every step unless I’m lucky enough to stumble across a distracting shape in the ground or something (ANYTHING) equally as distracting, or, until I decide to take control of my thoughts.

I think about where I was this time last year – jogging a slow 1 kilometre on the treadmill, with every breath feeling like a dagger at my chest – and I compare it to where I am now, running along at a faster pace, for a few kilometres more, and not feeling (as much) as though I might die. I think about how far I’ve come, what I’ve achieved, what I can do, and spur myself on to bloody well get on with it.

And in the same way that I’ve learnt to control my thoughts in this way while running, I’ve started to introduce this technique to everyday life.

You see, in real life, one minute I’m full of optimism and confidence and feel as though I might just be able to conquer the entire god damn world, and the next minute I’d really like to remain under my duvet for the rest of eternity and never speak to another living soul again. (Hey, I told you I wasn’t dramatic!) So when the latter thoughts creep in, I’m working on remembering that my optimism and confidence and world conquering attitude is in there somewhere, and that I just need to find it – in the same way that when I’m on a really rubbish run, where I feel like I’m literally taking one step forward and two steps back, where my lungs could quite possibly burst at any point and my pounding head might just explode, I force myself to remember that I’ve run further and faster than this before and that I can do it again, that it’s in there somewhere.

Now by no means am I saying that I love to run these days, because the physical act of running is something I’m not sure I’ll ever enjoy. But, what I do love is the way that every time I run, I’m constantly reminded that I can do something that I never ever considered I could. With every step, I’m reminded that if I put my mind to something, and push myself, that I can do it. With every gasp for breath, I remember that a little dedication and a lot of self belief is all it takes to get better at, well, anything.

better

The present – it’s a gift.

journey

This is so true, it’s scary. There’s no denying that we’re all guilty of it, so consumed with what’s next, what else is there, what the ‘future’ will hold, always striving for something new, something better, waiting for life to begin, that we tend to forget that this is it, our journey, it’s already happening!

I wonder if there ever comes a time where you just stop and think, ‘yes, this is it, I’m happy now,’ because I’ve never heard anyone speak about that time, but I’d love to think it exists.

I suppose, if we were ever going to just STOP for a minute and appreciate what we’ve got and how far we’ve come, it’s now, at Christmas, surrounded by the people we love, as another year draws to a close and a hopeful new one comes into view.

So if you don’t have another chance through the madness and festivities, just take a moment NOW, while reading this, to think about how far you’ve come this year, all the achievements and the memories you’ve made, the best times, and even the worst times and how you’ve learnt and grown from them.

The best thing is that if there are some things you didn’t quite get round to, a brand new year is just around the corner – your chance to make it the best one yet, full of new things and experiences and people, as well as all the lovely old ones too of course.

Sometimes it seems silly that just another day in the calendar can bring on such a ‘time to change’ attitude, but if nothing else, it just gives us hope that things will get even better. And let’s face it, if none of us had room for improvement, we’d all be perfect, and that would be terribly boring.

I feel like all the new things I did in 2013 were a complete realisation that actually if you do want to change and to open your mind to new experiences, you can. It’s only YOU that can do that, only you that can enrich your own life and mind and mood.

So, I’ve decided that 2014 will be the year I focus on the here and now, by doing something new, every month, and writing about it here. And hopefully, by focusing on that new experience, in that present month, it will lessen my thoughts about next month, my worries about the month after that, concerns about where I’ll be next year, or ten years from now, and all the other crazy little things about the future that unnecessarily fill my crazy little brain.

Because we all know life wasn’t made for worrying, but for living, today.

desert!!

With the people we love…

Together

IMG_20130927_191112

girlies

laughing

sam and em

love

money can't buy