When I’m walking down a crowded NYC street and people are meandering with their heads down, looking at their phones, they get on my nerves, and in my way. It’s obvious what the problem is (them! :-)). When I am in my own way it’s not quite so obvious.
I used to think that if I had more money everything in my life would be better—until an astute coach (thank you Nancy Borris) pointed out my flawed thinking. I was blaming money for my lack of a fitness routine, I blamed it when I argued with my daughter, I knew if I had more money I could tap into all that confidence that was lying dormant.
So, I took the challenge to clean up my thinking around money. What I mean by that is identifying the thoughts that put the responsibility elsewhere (blaming, whining, excuses, victim mentality). By doing that I could see what was actually going on, because it wasn’t about money. Money was a distraction*.
I started by taking 10-15 minutes to write down whatever came to mind about money. I can’t tell you what it is about writing down your thoughts but it’s a powerful exercise, and sometimes that’s all it takes. For me, it broke the cycle of ‘spinning’—it stopped my mind from running free with thoughts that did nothing but make me feel bad.
Did you catch that? In 15 minutes I became aware of thinking that was an endless loop of negative thinking!
If you want to try to clean up a thought here is what it looks like:
How to clean up your thoughts:
There is one super important rule to thought cleaning: NO JUDGEMENT, it must be done with love and compassion, no negotiating. If you beat yourself up you are spinning in messy thoughts!
Find the thought you want to work on, I’m using my money thought as an example:
- Awareness: Once I realized I had a “thing” going on with money I watched to see how it showed up. It was everywhere! If I had more money: I would have a better haircut; I could join a gym and exercise; I could hire a coach to help me feel more confident; I wouldn’t fight with my daughter.
- Thoughts: What is the story you’re telling yourself? Every money story led to self judgement: you should have gotten married; you should get a better job; your family doesn’t love you or they would take care of you.
- Feelings: When you are in your story how does it make you feel? For me it was: inadequate and like a victim.
- Get tough with yourself and look at the truth: If you believe my story that I couldn’t exercise because I couldn’t afford a gym you are as deep in it as I was! I lived 2 blocks from an amazing park! Telling myself I couldn’t afford a gym was my way of wallowing in my story: I’m not as lucky, or as loved as all those women with fancy gym memberships.
- Practice, practice, practice: Once you know what your trigger is, or your go-to negative thinking, you practice interrupting it. The acknowledgement of the thought is the interruption. When you notice the thought you make a choice, wallow or come up with another thought. My new thought when I go for a walk in the morning: How lucky am I to be able to walk and run in this amazing, beautiful, park any time I want?!
Now, if my mind goes to money, I can stop it in a second.
And that, my friends, is how you get out of our own way!!
*If you’re wondering what money was distracting me from: it was fear and discomfort around change happening in my life. If I stayed with my money story I would never have made the decision to leave my job and begin my career as a coach!
Let me know if you try cleaning up a thought and how it goes, or if you want some feedback on what you find. Leave a comment.