I don’t know why this analogy popped into my head but it has a good ring to it and brings up a visual that is extremely helpful.
Think of all the ways you’d take care of a prized pony if you had one. Think of how highly you’d value their wellbeing, the effort and emphasis you’d place on its’ care, how kindly you’d nurture it and the priority it would take over many things. Of course this is how you’d treat something of such high value and capable of bringing so much joy to your life!
Now, reflect for a moment on the quality or nature of most of the thoughts that go through your head each day. Are they of the self critical nature? Do you frequently have a loop of worst-case scenario fears? Are they full of dread or dissatisfaction? Do you overanalyze everything you say and all your interactions with people?
If you answered yes to one or a few of these you’re in good company! Most of us get into such negative thought habits that we don’t even realize we’re thinking that way until it’s brought up like this.
So the question becomes, not why do we do this, because that answer can get complicated fast. But the question becomes what if we were to change this negative thinking pattern and treat our thoughts more like how we’d treat a prized pony? That’s right.
What if we were to put energy and effort into thoughts that promoted our wellbeing versus those that fed our fears? Thoughts that were nurturing versus exhausting?
The fact of the matter is that our thoughts and what goes on between our ears is even more valuable than a prized pony! It’s arguably THE most important thing we have. And yet, too many of us take it for granted and don’t put the proper effort and emphasis on its’ care.
If you just realized you fall into this category, here are 3 steps to take:
Ask yourself what you have to lose if you start changing the types of thoughts you have for ones of a higher quality (i.e. less worry and fear, more nurturing and positive). This one is important. We often hold onto beliefs that keeping our minds churning with worry and fear actually is helpful. So giving them up doesn’t seem like a prudent thing to do. But that’s not correct. Worry and fear is exhausting and keeps our brains operating on a lower “fight or flight” cognitive level.
Remind yourself this. The nature of your thoughts IS the nature of your life. Take a moment and let this really sink in. The thoughts you tend to have today will be the thoughts you’ll have tomorrow and the next day, and the next, through your whole life. If they are negative, naggy, uncaring, worrisome and critical then your life will be that way. How can it be any different?
Experiment with your self talk. Ok, I hope I don’t lose you here… I won’t go so far as to say talk to yourself like a prized pony but I will suggest that you make a concerted effort to talk to yourself nicely. At the very least, nice-er. Seriously. We need to take responsibility for our thoughts and stop the unhelpful ones and increase the positive, nurturing ones.