Have you watched the movie Gremlins? Those cute, fluffy, clever little creatures are a good analogy for our thoughts. Thoughts that seem quite harmless, even good, can quickly multiply if given just a drop of water. If we feed and nurture them, our thoughts multiply in ways that can turn our lives upside down, causing negativity, depression, loneliness, self-hate, anger and frustration to rule our minds and our hearts. Our thoughts can start to control us.
We all have little gremlins in our minds. Some of us believe ourselves to be unworthy and of little value to anyone. Some of us believe we are not enough. Not good enough, not strong enough, not clever enough, not pretty enough … the list of ‘not enoughs’ is endless.
And then of course there are some of us who believe that no one else is good enough. Some of us believe that only our opinion is valid. You tell yourself that you work harder than anyone else. If someone makes a mistake they are incompetent, and if that mistake impacts on you, they’re a waste of your time and energy. You are forever dealing with and fixing everyone else’s mistakes and making up for their incompetence. The gremlin of hubris has free reign in your life.
Each of the massive mountains we face mentally and emotionally starts out as a single, innocent thought. Because we allow it to go unchecked, it gains momentum and gathers weight, snowballing. Very soon we are held captive by thoughts that become a ‘core truth’ we believe about ourselves or about other people.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Consider yourself from your clients’ perspective, from your best friend’s perspective, from your patients’ perspective. Does what they see match what you see? It is very unlikely. Let their perspectives start to shed a little light on your thinking and beliefs about yourself. Let their perspectives shine a light on your gremlins.
Take your thoughts captive
You are in control of your thoughts. You can choose to feed a thought and allow it to grow, just as you can choose to stifle it and replace it with an alternative thought. Our thoughts control our actions and our interactions, and determine the situations in which we find ourselves – the good or the bad. Unless we lock those little gremlins in a cage, our actions and our entire lives will soon be ruled by those thoughts and the effects of those thoughts.
Think, and then act
The more we allow our gremlin-like thoughts to rule us, the more reactive we become. Before responding to a situation or a challenge, think first. Try a little meta-cognition. That is the practice of thinking about our thoughts – distancing ourselves from them and assessing whether they’re worth keeping. If your first thought reveals itself to be a gremlin, change your perspective immediately. See your challenge not as a problem to overcome, but as an opportunity to learn. It’s a huge distinction! Instead of thinking you have failed, consider the possibility of growth instead. Become pro-active in your thinking, and allow yourself to take advantage of the fact that your thoughts will determine the outcome of a situation. Control your thoughts first, and then act.
Taking control of our own minds can be one of the hardest challenges we face. In truth, it is a lifetime’s work. But by watching what we allow into our minds, and what we nurture, we can ensure that no mountain is ever too high to climb, no challenge too large or overwhelming to handle.
It is the quality of your thoughts that determines the quality of your day, your week, your year. The key is to discipline your mind and your thinking first, every day, every moment.
Let’s put this into practice!