Today I’m going to teach you one of the best, most important tools in my toolbelt.
I’m going to teach you how to feel better when you feel badly.
This is so good. This post may change your life. Seriously. Let’s dive right in.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click below for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
Drop your Plan. Question Your Thoughts. -Byron Katie.
Life Can Be Hard
I had what could have been a really hard, bad day last week.
I was in a neighborhood meeting and I spoke up (strongly!) about something controversial. I was way of out my comfort zone.
I ruminated after the meeting. Was I too firm? Will everyone hate me?
But I stopped myself. I have a tool that I use regularly when these negative thoughts crop up and this tool is so important.
Our Situation Doesn’t Dictate Everything
We as humans believe that our life situation dictates everything. For example:
- My husband and I had a fight early this morning so now I’ll have a bad day, or
- I got a bad performance review so of course I’m upset and miserable
Whatever the situation, we think that because the situation happened, it causes us to feel this way.
It’s Not true
I have amazing news for you. Your life is NOT dependent on situations flowing perfectly.
And that’s a good thing because it’s often impossible to control our situations.
If you wait to feel great until your kids to be perfectly behaved, and your partner cleans up the kitchen after dinner, and your boss gives you fewer work projects, you probably won’t feel great very often.
The GREAT News
The GREAT news is that your life is NOT dependent on good things happening so you can be happy.
And I’m not talking about fake happiness.
I’m talking REAL GENUINE happiness and joy, no matter what situation is going on in your life.
There are tools that will help you learn how to do this because your life situation does not dictate your level of joy in life.
I believe it’s your THOUGHTS about everything. If you change your thoughts, you can change everything.
Byron Katie teaches this. She says:
It’s not the problem that causes our suffering. It’s the THINKING about the problem.-Byron Katie.
Click on the picture below to download a PDF that will help walk you through this process. If you need the password, click here.
Changing your Thoughts
The ability to change your thoughts is a concept I didn’t make it up. It’s used by Therapists, Coaches, etc. Byron Katie talks about it and so does Life Coach Brooke Castillo.
I formally learned about this tool when I went to coaching school (iPEC). We are taught this concept as one of the coaching tools to keep in our tool belt and I think it’s one of the best tools we learned. I’ve modified it from all the sources to make it “mine” so don’t compare this version to others! It’s a hodgepodge.
How it Works
The premise of the tool is that it’s not the situation that’s making us upset, it’s our thoughts and interpretations about the situation.
Let’s give an example.
Let’s say it’s raining outside.
The rain is simply a situation. It’s a fact. It’s raining outside.
Some people will look at the situation and get upset.
It’s raining, which means I can’t go on a walk. Now I’m going to be stuck at home all day and be miserable.
So then what happens? You have a thought: my day is ruined because of the rain.
Then how do you feel?
You feel sad. You wanted to walk!
So what happens next?
The next is the action. Or in this case, the lack of action.
You’re sad. You think your day is ruined. So what do you do? You watch TV and eat cheesy poofs.
Let me tell you. At this rate, your day is not getting any better….
And what’s the result?
Your mood gets worse and worse as you sit around and eat processed food.
Here’s how the cycle works:
There’s a situation. You have a thought about the situation. That thought makes you feel a certain way. So you do an action that makes sense given what you’re thinking. That action creates a result (or lack of result, for most of us!).
How to Use the Tool
First, you write down what’s currently going on. You write the situation, your thoughts about the situation, etc. (Use the printable!)
Next, VALIDATE yourself. And that’s where the magic comes.
What does it mean to validate yourself?
It means you’ll tell yourself that what you’re feeling is normal. Anyone in your situation would probably feel that way. You have good reason to feel that way.
By validating your thought, you normalize feeling like you did, and also subsequently, it lets the unhelpful thought be released.
You may say “it makes perfect sense that you’d feel sad about your performance review. You got a “very good” on your performance instead of the “excellent” that you were hoping for. Given that you’re a teacher in the middle of COVID, things were especially difficult. You had to work extra hard to teach on zoom and to receive a “very good” on your review felt really upsetting.”
So next time you want to reframe your thoughts, write everything down, including your validation (I have a prompt for it on the handout).
Re-doing Your Thoughts
Next, here’s more magic.
You get to decide what you’d like your thought to be!
Perhaps “I know I’m doing a great job and it doesn’t matter what rating my boss gave me. My students really flourished in a difficult situation and that’s all that matters.”
How does that resonate?
See how you can choose your thoughts? So incredibly powerful!!!
Just keep trying them on, like they’re shoes, till you find one that feels like you believe it and that works for you.
Everything Else Will Fall Into Place
Once you pick your thought, you’ll see that everything else falls into place.
The feeling, action and result will flow right from your thought.
This tool is incredible, can you see how it’s like gold?
You CAN Reframe Your Thoughts
I hope this post helps you reframe your thoughts so they serve you better.
Remember, whatever you’re thinking is JUST a thought. it’s
If a thought is bothering you, keep playing till you find one that feels better and that you actually believe.
That’s it. If you do nothing else with this tool, you’ll probably feel a thousand times better just doing that one little thing.
You can choose your thoughts. Really.
Your life circumstance does NOT have to dictate how you feel every day. You can change your thoughts, which will have a trickle down affect and change your life….as your feelings feel better and your actions support your more supportive way of thinking.