Step 1 of the 4 C's to Changing Your Thoughts: "Catch"
Updated: Aug 25, 2021
Are you stuck in a trap?
I'm talking about the Perfectionist Trap. The never good enough trap. You may not identify as a perfectionist, but you may relate to never feeling good enough. For many of us the trap looks like this:
Does this sound familiar? The thing is, your brain is always trying to prove itself right. If you believe you're not enough, your brain will find ways to prove it to you. So, ultimately, change starts with changing our thoughts, rather than our doing. Because even if we do manage to achieve the impossible goals: do all the things, lose the weight, find a partner, get that job, etc. our thoughts will remain the same. That's why there are so many people who are still miserable, even though they have all the things they thought would make them happy.
Because their thoughts haven't changed. Only their circumstances have changed. The empowering thing about knowing all this is that the thoughts that you think you're going to have about yourself and your life when you lose that weight, get that job, etc. are actually available to you NOW. Isn't that exciting? I certainly think so. And while the work to change your thoughts can be challenging and takes a lot of practice, it isn't particularly complicated.
Here's an Example.
Let's say you want to lose 15lbs.
First, ask yourself: 1. Why do I want to achieve this? 2. What are the thoughts I think I will have when I reach this goal? Maybe you have reasons like health, or comfort, or energy, or wanting to challenge yourself to reach a goal. Rr maybe you think you will finally be loveable enough (aka worthy) if you reach that goal. The thing is, our brains are wired for negativity. Ever notice how you can hear a million compliments but the only thing you can remember is that one criticism? If you are hating on yourself and your body now, what makes you think you will stop doing it once you lose the 15lbs? If your brain is used to focusing on your "flaws", it will continue to focus on them, even if you lose 15lbs. Don't get me wrong, going after the goal can be super worthwhile, it's just important to also work on our thoughts, so when we get there, we aren't stuck in the same thought patterns. And sometimes when we work on our thoughts, we realize the goal isn't even necessary, because we thought it would help us achieve the thought (and feeling) that we are actually capable of creating right now. Make sense?
So, how do you change your thoughts?
This can be one of the most challenging or frustrating parts because it requires paying attention; learning to catch your thoughts and identify them to the best of your ability without judgment (as we'll discuss, a lot of these thoughts aren't even yours). And it requires practice.
We have something like 60,000 thoughts a day (something like 80% of which are negative). So often most of us don’t even notice our thoughts. We just go around letting our subconscious thoughts drive the bus and wondering why our lives aren’t what we want them to be (more on that later). For now, just start trying to pay attention to your thoughts. Stop and notice. Write down, stream of consciousness, all your thoughts about a particular thing, event, or subject. Don’t worry about what is “right”. Don't filter them. Just write. What you find might surprise you. Ask yourself "why", "so what?", "and so?" when you are notice thoughts come up. Get curious.
Dig deeper. And just become aware. Write that shit down. And be gentle with yourself as you notice.
So often once we start noticing our thoughts, we start getting even more critical of ourselves for being critical of ourselves (i.e. “I’m so stupid”, “Ah! How can you say that about yourself? Why are you so terrible to yourself?”)
Once you have practiced this you’ll be ready to move on to the next "C": Challenge.