#1 Tool for Stress Management
The most effective stress management tool I’ve ever used is a simple one.
Edit. Your. Thoughts.
Your thoughts or beliefs determine how you feel. How you feel is how you behave and show up in your life. Your behaviors drive your actions and your actions will determine the results in your life. So if you are feeling stress, overwhelm or frustration we need to take a look at your thoughts.
The great news is that your thoughts are a choice.
Think of it like a restaurant menu – there are lots of options and all of them are perfectly fine, but when the dish you ordered shows up to the table you can’t complain because you wanted something different – you made that decision my friend. Be careful when you choose because your thoughts will determine your overall happiness and fulfillment in life.
Don’t believe me?
A man recently learned his wife had been unfaithful and they were getting a divorce. He could choose to be angry, sad and resentful. Instead his thoughts were significantly more positive. He said it was hard but it was the best thing for everyone, and, he was looking forward to a new chapter in his life. As a direct result of his decision to think differently he did not feeling angry and was able to show up as a strong role model for his children creating a scenario where they were having healthy conversations about the upcoming changes but still felt safe during a scary time in their lives.
How would that look if he hadn’t made that choice?
- His Thoughts – She’s a terrible person
- His Feelings – Mad, resentful
- His Behaviors – lashing out, making poor choices
- His Results – Super shitty life, hurt kids who didn’t do anything wrong
I don’t know about you but if I could make a decision between a shitty life and a not-so-shitty life, I’d probably go for the less shitty option!
Let’s use a different, every-day example. Today I was at the mall and saw a woman with an incredible Louis Vitton purse that I was swooning over. In that moment I had a choice: be jealous that she has it and angry that I’m not making enough money to have one. Or, hustle to complete my return so I can get back to work and push myself, up my game and reach new goals so I can buy one for my damn self. It’s a choice.
Is it easy? No. This takes WORK. Every. Damn. Day.
Is it doable? Yes. You CAN do this.
We embrace the formula of lifting weights and breaking down muscle fibers to become stronger but we don’t embrace the concept of breaking down old thought patterns, habits or beliefs in order to become mentally stronger. Why?
How do you edit your thoughts?
Let’s recap: thoughts lead to feelings that lead to behaviors, that lead to results. Whatever you want, ANYTHING, is available to you as long as you’re willing to do the work to get the results you want.
Get clear about the situation.
What are the facts? Remove your opinions or judgement. Write it down so you can see it on paper. You have billions of thoughts every day, you might be surprised at how many you’ve made up but aren’t facts.
What are you feeling? Let it all out! Write down every single feeling that you can.
How are you reacting or behaving because of these feelings? Are you upset because you made up something in your head that never actually happened?
Are the results in your life what you want? If not, news flash, we gotta get right in the head and adjust our thoughts or break down old belief systems that aren’t serving you any longer.
One last truth bomb.
When you tell yourself that you can’t change your thoughts, ask this; I can’t or I won’t?
If you think you can’t break down unhealthy thought patterns or old beliefs, ask yourself if you actually CAN, but have decided you won’t.
You can’t defy gravity. True. You can’t grow wings and fly. True. You can’t bring your dog back from the dead. True.
“I can’t change how I feel.” Can’t or won’t?
“I can’t get over that event in my life.” Can’t or won’t?
“I can’t work out because I don’t have time.” Can’t or won’t?
“I can’t start that business right now.” Can’t or won’t?
If the answer is, in fact, that you CAN’T get over events in your life that’s totally cool too. Remember, all the dishes on the menu are great. Just make sure you’re okay with the REASON you order that item and why you continue to believe those thoughts.
“I can’t get a new job.” Can’t or won’t?
I’m pretty sure you CAN get a new job. You may choose not to get a new job because of any number of reasons; pay, hours, commute, etc. You CAN get a job, you just WON’T because of those reasons and they’re all valid!
Don’t talk yourself into the thought that you can’t do something, or have something, or be someone different… you chose that thought.
Your brain will believe anything you tell it – be careful!
What thoughts are you struggling with?