I was recently in Orlando with my devil children (aka the cheerleaders that I coach) and ended up at a table with one of the younger coaches and one of the moms.
I’m not sure how the conversation started, but the other coach started talking… and my first instinct was to get annoyed because she made everything about her and she was so damn skeptical about every single thing.
I felt myself getting to a negative state and reminded myself to stay out of judgment and in curiosity, so I started asking more questions and instantly recognized her destructive thought patterns…
She then came out and blatantly said “the things I say to myself are horrible and I’ll never say them out loud”…
How sad is that? It literally broke my heart.
She started talking about how she’s not smart, how she’ll make a terrible wife and all of these other things…. She went on and on and on about all of the reasons she won’t be successful. I don’t think she even realized that she was letting it all out and I could tell she was getting emotional.
She told us about how every time she sits down to study, she cries because every time she studies, she still fails.
She’s not normally that type of person but she was having a complete breakdown.
Hopelessness doesn’t come from being in a bad situation… Hopelessness comes from being in a situation that you feel like you have no control over.
The first teachable moment here is that when you focus on problems, you have no control over it. If you focus on the solution, it’s completely in your control and you don’t have to worry about the anxiety of feeling like you’re hopeless.
Unfortunately, when we started talking about solutions, she deflected every one of them. The more we talked about solutions (the mom that happened to be sitting next to us was actually a college professor by complete coincidence), the more she kept attacking the problem from different angles.
Teachable lesson number two… Most people deflect solutions because it would require them to change. This led me to realize that her self-hate was a result of her hopelessness which came from her victim mentality.
In her mind, everything happens TO you instead of FOR you. When you start taking extreme ownership of everything that happens in your life, you have the power to change it. Being a victim is easier… But it will leave you in a state of misery.
You’re not late because of traffic… You’re late because you forgot to account for traffic. You’re not broke because you’re paid minimum wage, you’re broke because you haven’t found an opportunity that pays more. You’re not in your situation because you have to be… You’re in it because you choose to be.
This is a worksheet that I got from one of the workshops I attended… It shows you the difference between victim language and taking ownership. I thought you’d find it helpful 😉
Your thoughts influence your feelings, your feelings influence your actions and your actions influence your results so you need to get a handle on your thoughts.
We have 90,000 thoughts in a day… 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday. That means those destructive thoughts you’re having, you’ve probably had for a longggggg time.
If you drive over grass, there probably won’t be a huge mark left in the grass… But if you drive over that same piece of grass over and over and over and over and over again, there will be a dent in that grass that you’ll have to put some serious work in to fix.
That is EXACTLY how our brains work. Every time you have a thought, there’s a little neuro pathway that’s created in our brain… and every time you have that same thought, that ridge gets deeper.
So now if you’ve been telling yourself something since you were in middle school, that little ridge is ridiculously deep in your brain… No wonder it’s so hard to change the way you think… That ridge didn’t form in one day so it’s not going to go away in one either.
You can’t control all of your thoughts… That would be exhausting.
You can’t control your first thought, but you CAN control your second thought.
Here’s a super four-step simple system to change the way that little inner voice talks to you.
Identify the destructive thought: first things first, identify the recurring theme of what that little voice in your head is telling you. It may not be the same words every time, but you’ll find a common theme.
Change it to an “I am committed to…” statement: Ask yourself what the truth is… In her case, if she thinks she’s not smart, her truth is that she hasn’t learned how to learn in a way that works for her. Her “I am” statement could be “I am committed to learning about my learning style and communicating that with my professors.
Make the affirmation constantly: It’s hard to change your thoughts, so you have to repeat your affirmation every time you think about your destructive thought.
Focus on the second thought: every time you have your destructive thought, immediately after, remind yourself of your new affirmation. This is a slow process to change your thoughts but it’s effective.
I’ve created a worksheet to help you work on identifying your negative thought patterns and turning them into a powerful affirmation to help you change that inner voice.