I remember going to my first nine-day silent meditation retreat eight years ago when I was living in Perth, Australia. I was nervous beforehand because I couldn’t imagine being silent for that long. I worried about “imagined” tragedies and events that I would miss out on and wondered if the world would be ok without my voice for nine days.
Despite my hesitation, the experience was extremely peaceful, restful and insightful. And the biggest insight I had was that there was a lot of noise happening — in my own mind.
We have approximately 70,000 thoughts a day. A lot of them are very useful and vital for our lives and the work we do such as planning, organizing, reflecting, making decisions and performing day-to-day activities. But a lot of the time we have unhelpful thoughts, from wondering about situations we have little control over to ruminating over the past which we can no longer change.
The problem with this is that if we are not conscious enough, we may be using it to create negative relationships, work situations and even a life, which we never wanted. We may also limit ourselves from opportunities and growth because of certain negative thought patterns or limiting beliefs.
Ever heard the saying “you are what you think”? Here are some ways you can create thoughts that will empower you at work and in life.
1. Watch your thoughts
Become aware of the thoughts you have. In any moment you can stop and watch the thoughts running inside your mind. Recognize them as they come. This is especially useful when you’re in an emotionally-charged situation where you will want to react very quickly. A simple practice that can help is mindfulness meditation.
2. Recognize helpful and unhelpful thoughts
Once you are aware of your thoughts, you can start recognizing whether a particular thought you’ve had is useful for you or not. One way to recognize helpful and helpful thoughts is to check in with yourself: “Is this thought serving me well? Is this thought making me happy?”
3. Choose your thoughts
What many people do not realize is that you can choose the thoughts you have. You can choose whether you want to keep it, let it be, or let it go. Sometimes the thought which you do not like or want may still be there, but you can then shift your focus away from it to a helpful thought.
4. Positive self-talk
One of the most powerful ways to start seeing positive outcomes in your life is positive self-talk. This means saying positive affirmative statements to yourself such as “I am worthy,” “I am grateful,” “I am smart,” etc. This may seem a little bit unnatural at first but will get easier once you make it a habit. Tell yourself a positive affirmation which you want to see more off in your life first thing when you wake up and before you sleep.
The mind is powerful and we can use it to make our lives better or worse. Start by making it a practice to become aware of your thoughts, the type of thoughts you are having, and start choosing positive ones.
Bhali Gill is the Founder of Corporate Wellbeing and is a Psychologist (org), Coach and Trainer.