Last week, I talked about how circumstances are neutral.
Thoughts, of course, are not neutral. If thoughts were facts, everyone would have the same thoughts about a circumstance. Where some people see problems, others see opportunity. That’s how you can tell the difference between a thought and a circumstance.
Many things we think are circumstances (facts) are actually thoughts. “I don’t have time” is often a thought. We make time for the things that matter to us.
We also confuse thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. “I can’t” is also often a thought. Sometimes you physically can’t do something, and that’s a circumstance, but often we say we can’t when we actually mean “I don’t want to” or “I’m overwhelmed” or “I’m scared” (feelings).
“This is the worst day ever!” is a thought, not a fact. So is “This is the best day ever!” Think about that one. Think about the different feelings you might have if you believe you’re having the worst day vs. the best day.
Now let me be clear, I don’t advocate for telling yourself that you’re having the best day ever when you’re facing tragedy. It’s okay to not have the best day ever. It’s okay to have difficult days. Experiencing a range of feelings is part of our humanity.
That said, if you’re not getting the results in your life that you want, or if you want to do things differently, or if you want to feel different about your circumstances, all of that is within your power. You simply need to change your thoughts. Find something different to believe. Something you actually CAN genuinely believe right now.
The important takeaway here is that you can choose your thoughts. And ancient wisdom tells us that “As a man thinks, so is he.”
So what are the thoughts behind the things you feel and do everyday? If you’re not feeling and acting and accomplishing the way you want to feel and act and accomplish, what might you choose to think instead? What thoughts do you WANT to have? I encourage you to ask yourself that this week.
I'll talk to you then!
Last week I promised a 5-week series to explain how our thoughts affect our results. That starts now.
RESULTS are the effect of
ACTIONS motivated by
FEELINGS generated by
First, I have to say that this is definitely one of those times when “we best teach what we most need to learn” applies to me. Actually, that applies to pretty much everything I share, but this way of thinking is relatively new to me, and it is transformative.
Before we talk about thoughts and results, though, we need to talk about CIRCUMSTANCES.
Circumstances are the provable facts of a situation, e.g., the car was clocked at 39 mph on a 35mph road.
Think of the ways different people could think about that very simple circumstance:
…not to mention how someone from another culture or country might interpret the situation.
Facts are neutral. There are no good facts or bad facts, just facts.
Red just is. It’s not bad or good. It’s just red. You might have thoughts and feelings about it, but red, in and of itself, is neutral.
So if circumstances are facts and facts are neutral, then you see where this is going, right?
What if circumstances just are? What if there are no good or bad circumstances, just circumstances?
Viewing your circumstances as neutral means not making more of a situation than it is. Your husband came home late three days in row. That is neutral. It’s not good, bad, mean, rude, or disrespectful unless you think it is.
We assign meaning to circumstances all the time - it's how our brains are wired - but that meaning only exists because we choose it, not because it’s objective. Someone buying your dinner is thought of as generous in one culture and making a power play in another.
This week, I encourage you to try this perspective - that no circumstance is inherently good or bad or…anything. I hasten to add that seeing circumstances as neutral doesn’t mean that you’ll never want to have any thoughts attached to circumstances - you no doubt have strong values and beliefs (thoughts) that you want to maintain, and that’s important. But it’s also important to be aware that those thoughts are your choice - and maybe even the agreed-upon choice of an entire culture, but a choice nonetheless.
Think about this: If your circumstances are neutral, then you are not a victim of your circumstances. That is both very scary and incredibly empowering.
Next week, we’ll talk about the thoughts that affect how we feel about our circumstances.
P.S. If you have questions about this series, hit reply and let me know. There’s so much I’m still learning, and I hope to always continue to grow. If someone you know might benefit from these notes, please forward them on. You know where to find me.
I was talking to a business owner about their financial situation. They want to quadruple their annual income within the next five years, but don’t believe they can. I’ve never studied much about finances, but I have learned a lot about mindset.
M: “So why do you think you can’t do it?”
B: “I don’t have enough time.”
M: “So you believe time equals money?
B: “Well no. I don’t like hourly pay structures. They don’t really make sense - in some cases maybe, but not most.”
M: “Then why do you need more time?”
M: “I wonder if you’re stuck at your current income level because of that belief?”
You may not be a business owner, but I guarantee you have beliefs that limit what’s possible for you - I certainly do! Everything you “have to” do, every feeling you have, every action you take, every result you get (or don’t) - it all begins with a thought, a belief. You may not even realize you have those thoughts until you do some digging.
So when you find yourself feeling stuck, think. Dig into that deeply automated brain of yours this week and see thoughts and beliefs you find. And if you need help, let me know. I have a really big shovel.
P.S. For the next five weeks, I'll be sharing a model for understanding the way our thoughts affect our results. If you're not getting the results you want in your life, stay tuned.
What if what you really wanted was normal?
What if taking a year off was normal?
What if changing jobs - or even career paths - every year was normal?
What if not having kids was normal?
What if having ten kids was normal?
What if being a stay at home dad was normal?
What if homeschooling your kids was normal?
What if not going to college was normal?
What if going back to school after retirement was normal?
What if whatever you wanted to do was fully supported and even applauded by your community and society as a whole?
What if there was no wrong answer?
What would you do?
I would love to know.
Until next week…