Step 2 of The 4 C's to Changing your Thoughts: "Challenge"
Updated: Aug 25, 2021
Part of my work in helping my client banish perfectionism, end procrastination, empower them to take healthy risks towards reaching their goals, and banishing negative thinking, is thought work.
Thought work is the process of catching, getting curious about, challenging, and creating new thoughts when we find we are up against some limiting beliefs about ourselves. This is step 3 and 4 in the process. If you are just tuning in, you can read about the previous steps in these other blog posts: Step 1: Catch and Step 2: Challenge The next C in Changing Your Thoughts is to get Curious about your thoughts and where they come from and then Challenge them. So often we think the thoughts we have are just a matter of fact. We don't think about how so many of our core beliefs are taught by society, our family of origin, our peers, etc. and that we have choice in believing them. We just let those thoughts drive the bus. And we don't even stop to ask if they have a driver's licence.
So get curious about who’s thoughts they are and where they come from. Ask yourself: Where did I learn this? Where did this thought/these thoughts come from? How was this thought modelled by my family of origin? Where do these messages exist in our society?
Then we can get critical and ask: Why would society want me to believe this? Who benefits from me having these/this thought? What systems does this thought uphold?
And finally, we can challenge them by asking ourselves: Is this true/accurate?
Do I want to believe this?
So often we think that we are just born with these thoughts or that “that’s just the way it is”, but the truth is we are socialized to believe them. And often these thoughts uphold certain systems (i.e capitalism) that benefit from us having them (ie. companies can sell us stuff to “solve” the insecurities they have created).
The empowering part is that we get to choose whether we believe these thoughts or not. For example, many of us may just take at face value the idea that “cellulite is gross”, but we’ve never stopped to question why, or how very subjective that is, or if we even want to believe that. We could chose to believe that cellulite is lit or even just non-descript. I’m not saying that the process of choosing and unlearning is easy, but just that we do have choice.
Personally, I find it motivating to change my thoughts when I think about it as an act of resistance or defiance against a system that has caused a lot of harm.
But whatever your reason, ask yourself if you want to have that thought. Sometimes we actually do want to have that negative thought. Like if someone passes away, we likely want to have thoughts about missing them. Or if you lose your job, maybe you want to have a little pity party for a minute.
And to be clear, I’m not talking about toxic positivity where you just ignore all negative thoughts or only think happy thoughts. I’m talking about thoughts and beliefs you have that aren’t serving you. That are getting in the way of your happiness or of taking action to change certain aspects of your life.
Are you ready for the next step? Read my next blog post to continue on with the 4 C's to change your thoughts: Step 3 & 4: Create & Cultivate new thoughts