What more can we learn about ourselves by challenging our thinking?
As adults, what more can we learn about ourselves by challenging our thinking?
You might respond to this thought as follows:
"I know myself already and that is good enough for me!", or "there are so many things going on for me at the moment that I don't really have the time to think about myself and my own well-being.".
For me, I manage my thoughts by recognising them for what they are. From day to day, some are positive, some are negative, and some are plain (but delicious) vanilla. I consciously stop negative thoughts from prevailing by allowing more positive ones to have their own “air time”. Once all my thoughts are ordered, I then remind myself to prioritise the ones that are going to contribute to my positivity, development and happiness.
In actual fact, most of us have different themes, voices and niggles, akin to an out of date computer programme, that is running in the background of our thinking, taking up precious processing capacity. At various times, these programmes can be dominant over others and take center stage. They can then define how we feel for an hour, a morning or a whole day, and in effect take away our energy, positivity, and happiness.
The challenge is to understand what is happening and to become comfortable with this process. Some people refer to the negative voices by labelling them as “gremlins”, whereas others call them out as “self-talk”. I call them “loops” as for me they are short, repetitive, and can be really very annoying!
As an illustration of the effect such negative thoughts can bring, I draw the parallel to English Major Golf Champion, Danny Willett. He is arguably only now coming back to his best playing, nearly three years after he won the Augusta Masters. He has cited “internal noise” as the reason why he has been unable to recreate his best form. In this case, it seems to me that the logical left-hand side of his brain has been dominant over the creative right side of his brain, filling his thinking space with negative thoughts. Now that he has allowed the creative, positive ones to return, he has revisited the form that back in 2016 told him he could win if he played to his strengths.
The reality is that when you find space to confront and challenge your negative thoughts, you open up a new vista on how you can feel and manage your life.
So, you might now choose to think, "OK, I thought I knew myself. Now I know what is going on with my thoughts, I want to see how I can challenge myself. I want to improve my performance at work, being present with the family, or in having fun”. Or, “I can put all my challenges at home and at work into their rightful boxes, and I see that they all contribute to how I can feel more positive about things”.
All of this points towards giving ourselves permission to reassess our thinking and feelings about our lives. Indeed, it is by challenging our own thinking that we can map a route to moving forward in the way that we want, and that can bring us all better balance in our lives.