I had a great conversation recently with a coaching client about changing our thinking habits. The power we have to direct our thoughts can have enormous effects on our careers, relationships and life.
It brought me back to my introduction to this principle. It was about 20 years ago and I had just had my heart broken. I was depressed and yes, feeling a bit of a victim. I remember talking to a trusted friend and saying something like “I can’t stop thinking about this.”
My friend then said something that started to change my life. She said, “You know, you can change what you think about.”
Such a simple and profound statement, but it was a bombshell to me. This was like a bright light on a dark path. I guess up until this conversation I figured your thoughts ran the show and they came from somewhere out of my control. That simple reminder was the start of me altering the way I direct and use my thoughts.
You may be thinking, “Wait a second. I can’t control what thoughts enter my mind.” This is true, but I’ll use a couple computer terms to explain what you can do. You can’t control the pop ups, but you have a delete button. Yes, negative, energy-draining thoughts will still show up but you have the power to cut them off before they gain momentum.
We have all been there. Think about your work life. You may work on a yacht and, from a series of outside events, your insides get all twisted up by thoughts. Your thoughts rail about a captain or crew member or some charter guests and soon poor little old you is a victim and getting pounded on from all angles.
You have allowed negative thoughts to hang around and gain strength, kind of like a tropical storm over the ocean that sucks up moisture and becomes a hurricane.
What’s needed here is the awareness to recognize and replace. Recognize where your thoughts take you and replace them with more positive ones that can begin to take you where you really want to go, which is toward feeling good.
This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Learning new skills and creating new habits takes practice, so be patient with yourself and the process. You will see yourself improving with this if you stay with it. Just make it a new way of operating and make it important to you.
I love the expression “train of thought”. It presents a picture of what goes on with our thinking. Sometimes it feels like you’re riding this train, a train that you know is not going to a destination you want. The next stops could be Angrytown or Anxiety Junction followed by Depression Avenue but we don’t get off the train. We don’t think we can. But there is a way.
Before the train gets to that next station, before it gets going too fast, jump. Just jump toward new thoughts, tuck and roll. Don’t worry; you’ll survive, and you’ll be off the train.
This ability to direct your thoughts doesn’t just affect your now, it affects your future as well. So instead of reacting and stressing over things that have already happened, shift your attention to where you want to go. If this yacht you work on isn’t a good fit for you, don’t waste your time complaining and moaning about things. Shift your thoughts and attention to where you want to go. This will lead to specific actions to get you there.
Author and motivational expert Brian Tracy sums this up nicely: “The way you think about yourself, your abilities and your potential — your self-concepts — determines everything you are today, and everything you will ever be. By taking complete control over the words, pictures and ideas you let into your mind, you take complete control of your future”.
We all possess this incredible power, and by controlling the innocent misuse of thought we can set a course toward our desired life.
Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach. He offers free sample coaching sessions and can be reached through www.yachtcrewcoach.com. Comments on this column are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.