We All Have a Choice in Our Thoughts
In today’s world, ‘resilience’ is the term applied to our ability to come back stronger than ever after we have faced a challenging moment in our lives. Resilience is a trait that many employers seek, because we face an ever changing world. Therefore, employees need to be adaptable, flexible
So how do we bounce back? How do we withstand criticism, tragedies and
unexpected events? The most important part of resilience, in my view, is the meaning you apply to circumstances. It’s the opportunity we all have to learn from our mistakes, to gain strength from our challenges and to gain a better perspective on life.
It all comes down to the way we think: our mindset, and how we use it. Every day we make thousands of choices ranging from big choices such as a new home, career or partner, right down to every single day choices as we choose what to say, think, do and believe. We also have no control over what someone else thinks, says, believes or does, but we always have a choice over our attitude and how we will respond. “Our lives are controlled by what’s in our head, and we are the only one in there.”
We have far more control over our thoughts that we think, because often we choose to fall into a blame mentality, and we then think that we don’t have to take responsibility. But we are responsible, every day. If our thoughts are our thoughts, then someone else’s thoughts are their thoughts. Any criticism they may direct towards you, is just their thoughts spoken out loud. You know you can’t control other people’s thoughts, so why then, do we own those thoughts and take them personally? Why
do we get upset by what other people think of us, or what they say about our idea?
It took me many years to really understand this concept: to understand that I have a choice. I can allow someone else’s words to bother and upset me, or I can choose not to allow them to bother me. I may internally reflect on what they have said in case there may be some truth to the words, but ultimately those words are not mine. It’s not what I think, so why allow it to upset me?
Nobody can ‘make’ you feel anything. That is a challenging concept to get your head around, but it’s true. No one can make you angry, frustrate you or wind you up. All of those responses are an inside job: your thoughts, your head. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ‘feel’ an emotional reaction, but
you can switch that emotion to something more positive very quickly when you decide not to own someone else’s thoughts.
It’s all about the meaning, and it’s also about intent. We assume we know other people’s intent in their words or behaviour. You would have heard things like, “You did that to annoy me,” or “You said that just to make me angry.” The problem is that we don’t ‘know’ other people’s intent; we just
think we do. We believe our assumptions to be the absolute truth and we will go around sharing it as if it’s true. But we can’t know what other people think, or their intent, unless we ask them. All too often, conflict
and workplace issues arise because we believe other people intended to make our life more challenging. The problem with this perspective is that it is just made up. We, as human beings, like to be right, so we believe our assumptions and look for all the reasons to prove ourselves right.
It is so much more freeing to not take other people’s words or actions to heart. If you don’t agree with their comments, don’t own them. Flick that internal switch inside your head and let their comments go. Changing the way you think isn’t something that will happen overnight, but if you really want to be freer, to ‘react’ less and ‘respond’ more, to see a more positive outlook in life, then work on it. Become self aware, change your thinking, blame less, take more responsibility and know that you are in control of you.