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Your Brain is Not for Thinking

podcast Jan 12, 2021

 

Can't listen? Here's the transcript: 

Here is a question to consider. 

Who would you be without your thoughts? 

In fact, who is the person you call “I” who is listening to this podcast right now? 

I know that is a deep question to consider.  But it points to an idea that most people are unaware of- and that is that we are addicted to our thoughts without realizing it.  We continually look to our thoughts for our experience of our lives-- for what satisfies us, what dissatisfies us, what we should and shouldn’t be doing in our lives, how other people should be behaving.  And no one really talks about this in terms of addiction-- we only use the word addiction when we are talking about substances we use to numb ourselves to our uncomfortable emotions-- like drugs, alcohol, food, sex, work, exercise.  But that doesn’t mean that the only way addiction can manifest is from substances. 

We have thoughts because as human beings, we are hardwired to seek out pleasure and avoid pain-- so many of us are constantly thinking in order to figure out how to get our lives to give us what we want so we can feel good.  And this is what leads to over thinking. 

So we have all these circumstances we experience every single day, and we have over 50,000 thoughts a day-- so what we don’t realize is that we are constantly assigning meaning to every experience we have.  Our thoughts come automatically, and then those thoughts create the emotions that we experience.  We have some thoughts that make us feel good, and we have some thoughts that make us feel bad.  But the truth is, where we get into trouble, is when we over identify with the thought as though it is a FACT. 

The reality is that almost ALL of our thoughts are not facts

And when we relate to our thoughts like they are facts, this is exactly why we suffer so much.  We will always, always, always have thoughts that make us feel scared and upset.  That is just a part of being human.  So the attempt to try to stop yourself from having these thoughts is not only futile, but can actually be harmful. 

So here is the most important thing to understand about your mind-- we are conditioned to have the same thoughts day in and day out.  In fact, almost all of our thoughts are actually regurgitated from the previous day, and the day before that.  We RARELY think anything new!  But we don’t know this.  We think we are having NEW thoughts about this NEW circumstance. 

So I was working with a woman the other day, who is having a difficult time in her relationship with her step son.  And she told me about something that happened last week in which her husband said yes to his son without consulting her first.  Now, maybe he should have talked to his wife.  But her anger and resentment about this is nothing new-- and the thought that keeps getting regurgitated is, “I am not important”.  That shows up all over her life-- in her marriage, in her relationship to her step son, in her corporate job.  And this thought first began as a little girl.  And this goes for ALL OF US.  We have very old, regurgitated thoughts that keep surfacing in so many areas of our lives.  Now, that thought first appeared when my client was a little girl.  And we don’t have to even go back and rehash what happened or why she had those thoughts.  She decided she wasn’t important based on dynamics in her family.  And whenever my client has the thought, “I am not important” she reacts the same way-- she gets angry, critical and defensive.  And tries to fix and change the person in front of her-- whether in her personal or professional life.  Now, this repetitive thought is the very thing that is wreaking so much havoc in her life.  And believe it or not, that thought is there to protect her from pain.  The automatic belief is if she can get others to behave the way she wants, she will feel important.  That is her Inner Critic’s addiction-- her automatic mind has been conditioned since she was a little girl to seek out being important-- because that is her brain’s job.  To protect her from pain. 

That is our brain’s job.  Our brain is NOT for thinking.  And that is how our brains signal the same thoughts day in and day out-- to protect us from pain by trying to find a solution to meet our Inner Critic’s addiction.  And we ALL DO THIS! 

So as you are listening, look to see what is the regurgitated thought you have about yourself on a daily basis.  Is it that you are in some way not good enough?  Not important enough?  Not worthy enough?  Where are your repetitive, regurgitated thoughts wreaking havoc on some part of your life?  That is your brain trying to protect you from pain by figuring out how to get the outside world to make you feel how you want to feel. 

But the issue is, we CAN’T  get the outside world to give us that feeling.  That is why you probably know people who have achieved big goals, and are still miserable!  Or maybe that is YOU!  You are not going to find freedom from trying to stop yourself from this conditioned thought.  It has been with you forever.  It will be with you forever.  When you know that you are actually separate from your automatic thoughts, you now have the power.  Because you have the choice as to how much attention and power you are going to give these thoughts.  

See, my client was able to see that when she chooses to listen to her Inner Critic’s interpretation of circumstances, and as a result feels unimportant every time someone doesn’t meet her expectation about how they should behave, she will always suffer.  The truth is her husband has been over functioning with his son since way before he married my client-- I am not saying that is healthy.  It’s not.  But his behavior has nothing to do with HER.  And every time he over functions with his son, she feels angry and resentful and then acts out that anger towards her husband and step son-- so you can imagine year after year what this is causing in the family dynamics.  

So the key to having a life that not only works, but a life in which you are FREE from your automatic suffering, is whether you are willing to develop the kind of self awareness that lets you pick and choose which thoughts you are going to pay attention to.  And I promise you, wherever you are suffering, the underlying pain is nothing new.  You have had that exact pain before.  It feels new because the current circumstance is new.  But the pain is nothing new. In fact, it began when you were a young child.  That’s where all of our core pain begins.  And your brain went to work to protect you.  Because that’s it’s job!   

The automatic thoughts, those are your Inner Critic thoughts.  And you have the power to change your addiction to your Inner Critic thoughts by learning to see them as separate from the real YOU.  Not to silence them or make them go away, but to get quiet and still, and observe your Inner Critic doing it’s thing.  Use your suffering as your guide.  Wherever you are suffering, I promise you, you have some Inner Critic thoughts that are running you.  I don’t mean pain-- pain is part of life.  But suffering is a function of your Inner Critic thoughts. 

I have said this before, and I will say again that the most powerful life you can live is when you know the difference between you and your Inner Critic.  This work is about shifting into awareness.  When you begin to do the work of paying attention to your automatic thoughts, you can change your habit of thought.  Your automatic thought starts to move into the background of your life.  This is the only way we can experience true freedom and true peace of mind.  The primary cause of our unhappiness in our lives is NEVER the circumstances-- it is our thoughts about our circumstances.  And we are taught to label our thoughts as positive or negative.  Actually, they are ALL just thoughts.  The more we try to drive away or get rid of the thoughts we label as negative, the more we suffer. 

You may have heard the saying, “that which you resist, persists.”  That is exactly what I am talking about. 

What if rather than trying to make those thoughts go away, you can see them as the habit of being a human being? 

So, as a human being, you have automatic thoughts.  That will never change.  When we can observe our thoughts, we can see the self inflicted pain we have been placing on ourselves for most of our lives.  For me, my go to is ALWAYS “I am not good enough.”  It is truly what I experience every day.  As we are in the middle of the pandemic, I see my 12 year old missing an entire year of middle school.  I see my oldest son not being able to start college like he had anticipated.  And my middle son is wrapped up with his friends and is pretty disconnected from the family.  So my Inner Critic mind says, “what if they are damaged forever?  What if my daughter never breaks free of their anxiety and fear and insecurity and self doubt?  What if my middle son is disconnected from the family forever?  What if my oldest son has been isolated for so long that he becomes depressed?  Maybe I should have been a different mother.  Maybe I should have set more limits with electronics when they were younger.  Maybe I should have done this, not done that…..” I have these thoughts every freaking day.  This is my Inner Critic mind-- she loves doing this shit to me-- she drums up worse case scenarios and all the fears and anxieties that go with that.  But I know better-- I know I am separate from my Inner Critic, so these automatic thoughts don’t consume me.  They don’t take me down.  And so many of the clients I work with, when they first begin their work with me, they don’t see their Inner Critic thoughts as separate from them.  They indulge in these thoughts-- they stew over these thoughts, they are consumed by these thoughts.  And when I ask them to do the work to take 5 minutes a day to observe these thoughts, they are NOT happy.  They don’t want to sit and be with the thoughts they have been spending decades trying not to feel.  And we all have our ways of not feeling those feelings--- we strive to reach certain goals so we can feel good.  We try to improve ourselves, or change other people’s behavior, or reach certain goals so we can feel good.  Or worse, we just numb out and avoid all together.  But whatever it is that we are doing, we are attempting to avoid the core pain that has been with us for forever. 

Now why has this core pain been with us for our whole lives?  Well, the answer is simple, really.  Our brains are actually not designed for thinking!  Our brains are designed for survival.  So when something in my life doesn’t fit the perfectionistic expectations of my Inner Critic, she will go haywire.  My Inner Critic thinks if there are any imperfections in my life, that is dangerous.  This is how we are taught to think.  Keep striving for excellence… keep striving to improve yourself… keep reaching for those goals… keep pushing yourself to win.  Sound familiar to any of you?  We learn this as children. 

Ok so here is the million dollar question-- what is the line between embracing our imperfections, our faults, our human flaws, and striving for our dreams?  How do we continue to take the actions that are necessary to manifest the life of our dreams, and yet not continue to live this hamster wheel life of never feeling like we are satisfied?  How do we be our best selves and embrace who we are and who we are not, and continue to strive for the next chapter of our lives?  This is why I created the work of Dethroning Your Inner Critic-- I want everyone to be going for the life of their dreams.  I want for YOU To love yourself unconditionally, to create amazing relationships and fulfilling careers and blow your own freaking mind with the life you are designing.  But while you are designing that life, I want you to experience peace in your mind and in your heart.  I want you to experience complete fulfillment and gratitude for all that you already are and what you have already created.  I want that for myself, too.  And I know that experiencing that takes WORK.  It takes unhooking from my Inner Critic mind and stepping into my Authentic Self mind multiple times a day.  It takes feeling uncomfortable feelings on purpose, because my Inner Critic will never stop drumming up her fears and doubts and worse case scenarios.  And on the flip side, because my Inner Critic is conditioned towards achievements, when I accomplish something huge like becoming an international best selling author with my new book, my Inner Critic wants to put too much meaning towards that, too.  And this is also how we can become miserable. 

Because if I get addicted to my automatic thoughts about my accomplishments, then I can’t be at peace when I don’t achieve those big accomplishments.  And given that half of the time, life doesn’t go the way we want, I am not willing to spend half of my life feeling unfulfilled and discontent.  

So if you are someone who has spent your whole life striving, overachieving and being a perfectionist, ask yourself why is this my automatic?  Why are you automatically attached, addicted really, to needing the circumstances to match your Inner Critic’s ideal so you can be happy?  Are you waiting until you get the promotion, find the relationship, lose the weight, fix what you perceive as broken, before you will let yourself feel grateful and fulfilled?  That is the definition of conditional love.  True self acceptance is actually unconditional love-- It doesn’t mean we just accept the parts of our lives as is.  I WANT you to be reaching for the promotion, getting in the shape you want to be in, and becoming the best version of yourself. 

But what is actually REQUIRED for that, is finding true self acceptance right now. 

This for me was the biggest game changer.  I had to learn the hard way.  I spent years listening to my Inner Critic and mistaking it for the truth. I spent years trying to fix other people, especially my husband and kids, so that I could feel good.  And what I had to wake up to, is that whatever I was trying to “fix” was never broken in the first place.  When I stopped trying to control and fix and change, and instead learned how to deliberately think in a way that created self acceptance and unconditional love, that is when my life began to soar.  That is when the things I was striving for, actually began to shift.  But they didn’t shift because of me, they shifted as a result of my shift in thinking.  I stopped focusing on WHAT I was achieving and accomplishing.  I just took the next action, let life go where it went, learned from that action, and then took the next action.  That is how I live my life and how I support my clients in living their lives.  Feeling good right NOW.  There may be parts of yourself or your life that are not working.  And that takes courage to be able to point the finger at yourself and take responsibility for how your Inner Critic thinking is creating those parts of yourself, those parts of your personality. 

So many people spend years letting their Inner Critic mind drive their performance.  And in the end, they will achieve the goal, but there is a HUGE cost-- they are unfulfilled, unhappy, and so much of the important parts of life are in shambles.  And people think they need that self criticism and judgment and feeling like they aren’t good enough, to get to where they want to be.  They think they need that part of themselves or else they will just become complacent and accepting of what is. 
That is the opposite of what I am saying.  If there is something you want to change, or fix, or strive for, you should absolutely go for it.  But being angry at yourself, beating yourself up until the circumstance looks different, that will never get you experiencing a fulfilling life.  You can’t truly make changes without first learning how to experience self acceptance right now. 

For change to last, it HAS to be driven by self acceptance.  And self acceptance only happens when you know how to manage your mind.  And that can feel messy at first.  It is a process that will have you examining core pain that you have been dragging around for a long time, that has been showing up in different forms for your whole life.  And you are going to have to be willing to be responsible for your Inner Critic’s stories that you have mistaken for the truth, and then dumped onto other people, like my client did to her husband and step son.  This is uncomfortable stuff-- but here is the thing-- either you are uncomfortable because you are AVOIDING looking at your automatic thoughts, and therefore creating the same drama over and over, or you are uncomfortable looking at it, which eventually leads to living a magnificent life that you have designed because you learned how to think from a new mind.  The willingness to shine a light on the darkness is what changes fundamental parts of YOU.  I have seen my clients transform into different humans right before my very eyes.  And there is nothing more beautiful than witnessing that and seeing people shift from the inside out and seeing a lightness come through that has never been there before.  I have goosebumps as i am saying this.  

And the reason I’m saying all this is because if you’re willing to take that first step, to do discomfort on purpose, to see your patterns of automatic thinking that your Inner Critic has created, this is the beginning of a whole new life.  So, for starters, my book DYIC: the four step journey from self doubt to self empowerment is the owner’s manual for your mind that you have been waiting for.  I created a step by step process for doing the work of DYIC-- and it is truly a game changer for living the life you are meant to live.  You can pick up a copy on Amazon.  Buy it for yourself, buy it for someone you love, buy it for your book club-- these are the tools that have the power to transform the planet because we all need to know how to manage our minds.  And of course, if you are ready to go further and work with me, you can visit my website and schedule a clarity conversation with me.  

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