Amanda: Welcome back guys. I am Amanda.
Laura: I'm Laura
Kendra: and I'm Kendra.
Amanda: And today we are going to discuss thoughts and beliefs and what you want to do about 'em. So I'm gonna start out discussing thoughts. Again, we're going to revisit the cognitive thought model. There are circumstances that give you, it's not the circumstance ever that makes you feel the feeling, it's your thoughts about it that gives you a feeling. It's from your feelings, be it fear, confidence, whatever, that's what drives your actions. The sum total of which are the results of your life. What is important about thoughts is that 95% of our thoughts, we have tens of thousands of thoughts daily, 95% of those are on a nonconscious level. And so once you become aware of them and realize what is giving you your feelings, that then drive your actions and results, gives you a whole lot more explanation for why you are, where you are in life and what to do to change it. So with the idea of neuroplasticity, what is so great is that when we can go back and identify a problematic thought that's not helping us, we can intentionally change it. So when you start a new thought, that's like a little dirt road or a little gravel road that starts building synapses. The more you practice that thought, they become more and more well traveled. And it turns into, there's a quote, what neurons that fire together, wire together. And that's the idea of neuroplasticity. When you practice a thought over and over and over, it will become much more like a five lane highway than that little original dirt road. It takes intentionality, but it's possible. And that's why it's exciting that you don't have to stay in the, you know, mental state that you're in. You can change it. If you figure out that it's not working for you. So, if you are having a thought, that's giving you the feeling that's driving your the actions that find you in a state of life, or the result that you get over and over again, then what you wanna do is go back and figure out what were the actions that I took to get me here to this result. Okay. Then what was the feeling that was causing me to do these actions? Okay. Then what was the original thought? That is giving me the feeling. That's giving me the actions and that's why I am where I am today. I'll tell you one of mine. So, we revisit my taco bell habit over and over and over again. My thought after work was, I deserve this. I just went through some version of ultimate chaos and I deserve this. So you see that when I'm continually feeling sorry for myself. And having that thought that leads me to screech over into the Taco Bell drive through. That's what I had to figure out. Why would I deserve Taco Bell? Like that doesn't really make any sense to me. What I would like is, you know, a healthy body. That's not plugged up with saturated fat from Taco Bell, whatever it is. I don't even know what's in that, right? So, but until I became aware of it, I was telling myself, I deserved all these things. I couldn't change it cuz I didn't, I wasn't even certain what was going on. So that's what we're talking about is like just kind of becoming aware and seeing what thoughts serve you and which ones don't. We have programmed thoughts, highways that have been created over time, that result in the way that we think or feel now.When you are a child, this is what you're doing. You're absorbing the thoughts of other people. You're absorbing lessons from life, from religion, from school, from your own friend group. And you're not in emotional maturity yet as a child and so they get absorbed into you and they become programmed thoughts. If they serve you, which many of them do. Keep it. I've had a thought programmed into me that you are smart and you can do whatever you put your mind to. That serves me. I'm gonna keep that till I die. But there have been others, like you deserve Taco Bell that maybe don't serve me. And so then that's when I have to go back and change them. So that would be instead of a programmed thought. I want to go for deliberate thoughts, creating thoughts that I want to believe and thus create the emotion that drives my actions and create the results that I want.
Laura: You know, I think, I think you do deserve Taco Bell, but you also like you, you deserve whatever you want. If that's what you truly want. And that's like, what it gives, what you get down to is like, is this really what I want? Sure. I'm awesome. I worked hard. I deserve lots of great stuff.
Amanda: If it hadn't been giving me negative results, but that thought was giving me negative results. Yeah. It's not, I mean, Taco Bell's not good or bad. But when I was self soothing, I mean, let's be honest, I was buffering not wanting to feel my feelings after my shift. And ultimately, because of that, it was giving me a negative result. If your thoughts are not giving you negative results, keep them. Keep them.
Laura: Yep. So now we're gonna talk a little bit about beliefs and beliefs are really thoughts that we have thought over and over again. We have gone from that dirt road that Amanda talked about and have created a more solid neural pathway that is kind of a go-to for us. They come from our thoughts about things that have occurred. We've had lots of neutral circumstances that we've been exposed to throughout our lives. And we've had thoughts about most of them, the things that happen over and over again, if we have the same thought about that, that becomes a belief. And we can continue using the beliefs that we have if they serve us. But it's helpful to examine all of our beliefs and decide. Does this serve me? or do I want to choose something else? I love Byron Katie, she is a coach and I like a lot of these coach thinkers. I think of them as kind of philosophers. And she has four rules that she asks people to ask about their thoughts. The first one is: is it true?
The second one is: can you absolutely know it's true?
The third one is: how do you react when you believe that thought?
And that's kind of where we are talking about. When you think a thought and you believe it, is it producing a positive result in your life? And if it is, great. If it's not, it might be helpful to rethink that thought.
The fourth one is: who would you be without that thought?
So, if you think that you deserve Taco Bell, and you are 100% sure that you deserve Taco Bell. And then you think about it, well, maybe I'm not a hundred percent sure. And then you think, well, what would I be like without that thought. And maybe be a little healthier and feel a little better. It's a good time to reflect on it and see if you want to have that thought. Especially if you want it to be a repeated thought that turns into a belief. So just as a reminder, the circumstances that happen in our lives, are not the things that are actually creating our reality. It is the thoughts we have about those things. It's just so interesting how you can have different people grow up in the same, what other people would say were terrible circumstances, and you can have one child thrive and one child just spiral and have all kinds of negative outcomes. And what that comes down to is what those kids are thinking. Now, kids, as we've talked about, kids are getting their thoughts from things that are being talked to them. We are too, but we are more in control of whether we believe the things that are taught to us or not. So as adults, we wanna take responsibility for even when bad things happen to us, how we're gonna allow that to affect us. So there's a story, it's a true story of this family in the Netherlands at the onset of World War II. I love this story. It's called The Hiding Place. If you haven't read it, it's really great. It's about a Christian family who is hiding Jews in their home and helping them get out as the Nazis are invading. This family ultimately gets sent to the concentration camps. But one of the women, there's two sisters who had never been married and they were in their fifties and one of them just had the most amazing outlook of gratitude. Like, she came to a point where they were in this disgusting room filled with fleas and she managed to find gratitude for the fleas because the fleas kept the guards out of their room. So, it's just kind of mind boggling to think that you can get to that point. But there are many stories of people in horrible circumstances, you know, we call circumstances neutral. But most of us would agree that the concentration camps were horrible, that they're still able to maintain positive thoughts and beliefs, even in these dire, dire circumstances. So you can, there's lots of stories, especially out of World War II about those kinds of things. So, it's something that we can choose and it's always available to us. Sometimes it's gonna feel harder to, like, in that circumstance, it may feel harder to come up with a good thought or feeling, but certainly if it can be done in those circumstances, it can be done in our house. It can be done when we're at work or when we're in the car. It can be done when we're in the department store trying on a bathing suit. It can be done anywhere. We can choose a positive thought. Or choose a thought that serves us. We wanna make sure we're not having what we call toxic positivity or developing a belief system that is positive in the face of unresolved unconscious thoughts. We wanna make sure that we're examining all of our thoughts. So, we all have the gift of agency or the ability to choose for ourselves. It's an innate gift given to human beings. We may live in an area that is a more politically restrictive situation where we don't have the ability to choose all the circumstances in our lives. We're not able to necessarily choose where we work or where we live or things like that. But most of our listeners live in the US and we experience a remarkable level of freedom. Even without that external freedom, we have the freedom of choosing our thoughts and by choosing our thoughts, choosing our feelings. So, that's something that we were born with and it is a, this is like a sacred gift, a protected space that we were given to have that free will and choice. Our mentor, our coach instructor, teacher, Brooke Castillo, she has so much that is really inspiring that she says on this topic. But she says, “You can believe that no one can take your dignity, your hope, your self love, or your joy without your permission”. That is a powerful statement. And if we have felt victimized in our lives, this is something to examine. And if we choose to believe this statement, it can be transformational for us. You can believe that no one can take your dignity, your hope, your self love, or your joy without your permission. And I would add your worth, your worth as a human being cannot be taken. Even if someone takes your physical life, they cannot touch your soul.
Amanda: I love that. I'm imagining myself explaining to the flea ridden sisters that I deserve Taco Bell after a rough shift. Maybe I could take it down a notch.
Laura: It feels so real in the moment though, you know, it just feels…we feel very justified and that's our primitive brains. That's our primitive brain. My primitive brain is super powerful, like in my life.
Amanda: It is in the moment. And that's why being intentional is the only way to overcome this.
Kendra: Yeah. And when we are intentional, we can start to realize that when we talk about our thoughts and our beliefs and how they're created and how they're stored and how we access them. We can also start to realize that sometimes our beliefs and our reality reflect each other and they kind of compliment or coincide with each other and that's comfortable or that is what we've created so that we don't feel tension. When they contradict, on the other hand, tension is created. And you know, when we have tension in our lives, that increases stress because it's uncomfortable. It may be stressful because we don't like to live in tension or it might be stressful because it increases our anxiety or fear or worry over a situation. But anyways, tension is uncomfortable and so we have the choice, just like Laura said. We have choices. So we can choose to reduce this stress by either changing our belief system. So we can acknowledge that we have had a certain belief system and it ultimately has created thoughts that may not be serving us. So we can change that belief system or, B, we can change the reality. And that's not always as fluid or flexible. Sometimes our reality, like Laura said, sometimes where we live or where we work, we can't just abruptly, or in the short term, change that. But we have the choice. We change our belief system, or we change our reality. And, you know, an example of this could be, when we start a diet, we learn about a diet. We see how it's affected other people and they've had success. And so we just feel like it should work for us. So, we go into that diet, knowing that I've tried it. I am on them for a short amount of time or a given amount of time and I'm successful for that given amount of time. But then I gain all the weight back, or I go back to the body shape or size that I was before. So now we have this programmed thought like, diets don't work for me or whatever situation, and we gain the weight back or we get the body shape we don't desire. So, now we're going into the situation with our program. Like Amanda talked about, and instead it's giving us already negative thoughts and emotions. So we're going into a goal of weight loss or better body shape with negative emotions. So in order to change that belief system, we have to go backwards. We have to say, okay, this didn't work for us before. But what thoughts did I have about diets before? They weren't easily integrated into my current life or they weren't foods that I liked or they were too restrictive or whatever. Or maybe you go back even further and say, growing up I had a terrible body image. I was never told I was beautiful just the way I was. I was never told that I am the perfect size and shape for the purpose that I've been called to do or whatever it was. Maybe it just wasn't reinforced or encouraged. So now we have this poor body image growing up from the get go. So see how we can work in reverse to see the desired result was never sustained weight gain or sustained body shape and size that I want long term. But as we work backwards, we could even all go all the way back to growing up and something that affected that. And so when we go all the way back to beliefs, we started maybe in our emotional childhood, we like to refer to as illogical beliefs, because growing up, we thought that that was our reality, or that was our belief. We learned that somehow. And now that we're adults, we see that could be kind of dumb or insignificant, or like, why did I think that? Or why did I choose to feel that way? So then now we start to go in a shame spiral and now we start to blame and now we could really go off the negative deep end. So, one of the hallmarks of emotional adulthood that we've spoken about before is actually, number one, making me aware that those beliefs do not serve me. They are not creating a successful story in my life. So now we're gonna look at those beliefs with a new set of eyes. Now that we're adults, reevaluate them and do something about it. Change is hard and changing that belief pattern does take time. But once we decide in our mind that our circumstance is: I'm not the ideal body weight, or I'm looking to start this diet or whatever it is that you wanna do. And that's the result you want. Then we have to start thinking about our thought patterns. Another kind of illogical belief that I feel that could be common. I mean, I know I experienced in my life, was growing up and thinking that my parents fighting all the time or my parents' eventual separation and near divorce was somehow my fault or the fact that my brother and I never got along. And so then I connected that behavior of never getting along with my brother causing stress. And then it was my fault that my parents fought all the time and separated and almost divorced or whatever. So then I paralleled the fact that my brother and I didn't get along or whatever with my parents' situation, which now that I'm older and I'm married and I have kids, you realize that married people have problems. You are two people coming in, in a package that was brought together by marriage, but you have your own pre existing thoughts and beliefs of how a marriage should go. So that in itself creates tension and problems. But you don't realize that growing up. And so once we can acknowledge that, sometimes we have illogical beliefs that we carry into our adulthood or into our current situation. Married with kids. And now we start to realize that it does not serve us. We can change those and how we change those is to be deliberate. Start having deliberate thought patterns, start having deliberate thoughts. And maybe you have to work backwards. Maybe you have to say, okay, the desired result I want is a long, happy marriage and you work back. What action would I need to have that? And maybe it's to be more intentional about spending time with my husband and then what is a thought or a feeling about that? Well, I used to feel annoyed when I spent time with my husband and maybe I need to revisit that and actually be like, oh, actually the time we do get to spend is fruitful because we pour into each other's lives. The thought now I have about that is exciting or anticipation or encouragement or something in that matter. And so now our circumstance is still neutral. We're married. End of story. But now our thought pattern now gives us a new desired result and it's not easy. We say all this, just to give you the tools to equip you to help with this situation, but it takes practice. Sometimes it takes writing down the new belief, working through the thought and action and result. And sometimes it takes reading that over and over. Sticky notes on your mirror, something on your phone, something that constantly reminds you. So like Amanda said, that new dirt road that we're starting to navigate, all of a sudden now becomes a gravel road and now it's paved and now it's a super highway. And now it becomes something that is our default, instead of something that we had learned, an illogical belief that we grew up with or whatever.
Laura: Yeah. So one thing I use with my clients is treating it like a physical workout. So just like with a workout, you would do a certain number of reps and hold it for a certain amount of time. When we identify a new thought that we want to use, we identify how many reps we wanna do, how many times a day and how long we're gonna hold it. So research is showing with this neuroplasticity, if we're intentionally changing things, we need to hold the thought and tie it with the emotion that is desired to go with that thought. So say I want to have a thought that I am a great cook. This just comes like, I don't even care about this thought just to be real, but if I want that thought. I am a great cook or I am learning to be a great cook. I think about how it would feel when I actually believe that thought. And you know, it might be a feeling of satisfaction or excitement. I generate that feeling. I think the thought and I hold it. You wanna hold it for like 10 to 20 seconds and holding it actually is what helps trigger that neuroplastic change. So, we might on the sticky note say we're gonna do seven reps of “I'm working to believe that I am a great cook”, something like that, seven reps of that, twice a day and holding it. And each person usually chooses themselves, but holding it for 10 seconds. And doing it for a certain number of reps a day. And if you treat it just like a physical workout, just like when you're trying to build your muscles, you're building your neuronal pathways. That's what you're doing. Treat it that way. It's just amazing the change. So, my 16 year old son is a huge Bob Ross aficionado, like he's got Bob Ross bobblehead, Bob Ross socks, Bob Ross chia pet, like Bob Ross. And the reason why is because Bob Ross was an Army Sergeant apparently was super mean and harsh. Yeah, he was apparently super mean, but had this transformation and everyone knows him by his ability to convert his mistakes on his painting into something beautiful. Happy little accidents. Yes. Happy little accidents. And that's what happens so much in our lives. We have so many happy little accidents, which we think are tragedies at the moment, but we can create beautiful things out of them. For me, like, you know, I talked to you guys about my dad's alcoholism was tragic, but I would not be the person I am today. I would not have the resilience that I have. The strength that I have. There are so many, the empathy. I have so many things that I have that came out of that experience, but we have to choose that. And if we choose to be, if we choose victimhood over choosing to empower ourselves, we miss out on that. So we want to be intentional about our thoughts and beliefs and make sure that the things that we're thinking and the things we're believing are serving us and helping us to become our best version of ourselves.
Amanda: I like your example of new thoughts being like a gym workout sort of thing too. Because you would never go to the gym and lift up a five pound weight one time and expect to be ripped. However, a lot of us expect that we decide on this new thought and it's just gonna be automatic and we're already like, it's just, it takes time for those synapses to form. It takes time to reinforce them. And of course you're gonna have the, the original, not so helpful automatic thought. So just like giving yourself grace. And if you think of it as building muscle, that's a whole lot more useful than thinking you just changed your mind one day and it's all, you know, roses and daisies and rainbows and unicorns and sparkles after that. That's not how it is. You have to practice.
Laura: Yeah. It takes work. It's so worth it though. So worth it. And it's just in your brain. it's easy. It really is easy. If we allow it to be.
Kendra: And it's accessible, because like you said, it's in our brain. It's our brain, it's accessible anytime. Like, I think Amanda, you said there's, you know, thousands of thoughts every day. And so we can capture those. A lot of them happen in the non-conscious, but we can capture the thoughts, not serving us, it's accessible to us. And I like how you build that muscle. I listen to Dr. Caroline Leaf. She is fantastic. She's done 30 years of this neuroplastic research and just her new book, “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess”. She's got a fantastic neuro cycle app that goes in 21-day cycles. And she says on average to form this new neural pathway, that five lane super highway, it takes about three cycles of 21 days. So about 63 days. And then it becomes from her research, it becomes that new default or that super highway. So as you can see, like practicing it, doing the neuro cycle app or, or practicing doing seven reps twice a day, and then not seeing the change suddenly, but seeing it over time. It's worth the work, because now it becomes that super highway that becomes your default and it's serving you so much better. And once you tackle that thought, man, see how easy it is to become aware of other thoughts and then put them through that same cycle and build that new axonal pathway. And now, that next awareness and that next thing. You're successful, which also breeds success, which also breeds positive emotion and feelings about the change. And now you're getting the desired result. We've had a great conversation here. We've given you some tips to help start to build on these dirt roads to make them super highways. We've equipped you with these tools and we hope that you could start even today just recognizing maybe one thought, capturing one thought that may not be serving you and get to work, get to the workout! So, until next time you are whole, you are a gift to medicine and the work you do matters.