“Change your Thinking Change your Life” it’s a popular saying, books have been written about it, songs sung about it, and inspirational posters galore have been made with those words so that people can remind themselves that it’s true. But what does it really mean? How do you go about the process of changing your thinking?
According to the dictionary the word thought means “an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind.” Thinking on the other hand is “the process of using one's mind to consider or reason about something”. We as human beings spend way more time with our thoughts than we do actually thinking about something. For instance, walking to the grocery store from your car and someone doesn’t stop to let you cross from the parking lot to the store; your immediate thought is “What a jerk couldn’t they see I was walking here?” but chances are you aren’t going to spend much time thinking about how much of a jerk the person was, it was a fleeting thought and you’ve moved on. The problem with that thought is that now you’re likely in a bad mood and that could carry on for the rest of the day.
My point is that we have literally thousands of thoughts a day and if we can change our thought process our lives will change. Take for example the scenario above, let’s turn that around and what if the thought was more like “poor thing they must really be in hurry for some reason, I hope everything is okay” then the feeling you’re left with is that of empathy and not much more, you forget about the incident and your day goes on as planned. The stories that we tell ourselves about the world around us is what keeps us in a state of aggravation, depression, anxiety or in a state of bliss, contentment, happiness, and fulfillment. I’m not talking about actual news stories of events going on around us and around the world but the thoughts that we tell ourselves about why traffic is so bad or why the kids don’t listen to us or why we never have any money.
Something that I often hear is “the kids never clean up their rooms when I tell them to because they don’t respect me”. And as I’ve told those people I can almost guarantee you that’s not the reason your three year old is not cleaning up his room when you tell him to, probably not even the reason your teenager isn’t doing it either. First of all two words should be taken out of your language when talking about your kids, always and never. These two words are absolute and kids are anything but absolute. Second, if your child is three (or really any age below about 10) they don’t really have a grasp of what it means to have respect for someone or to give respect or to earn respect so chances are these kids are just not interested in stopping what they are currently doing in order to make you happy at this point in time. If however the child is older they probably do know what it means to respect someone but truth is that once puberty sets in making you happy is the least of their worries/concerns and the world pretty much revolves around them, their friends and their phones/social media.
That “story” that you just told yourself about why they didn’t do what you said didn’t serve you in any way. In fact it probably just did you a huge disservice because now you’re mad at your kid and that story has just worked against you building a strong and trusting relationship with your kid. So instead of them “not respecting you” maybe your first thought is something like “them not rushing to clean their room has nothing to do with me, I don’t want to clean it either, if it gets done by the end of the day it’ll be fine, nothing is going to be hurt by them not doing it right this second”, and truly believing what you’ve said because in most cases nothing is going to be hurt by them not doing it right this second, unless of course your boss is coming over for dinner then you might want to do a little yelling. Not really but you get the idea.
The point is you really can have no idea what is going through their head at the time they choose not to do what you said so why tell yourself a story that most likely isn’t true? Wouldn’t it be better to just keep a positive outlook and rethink your course of action? What do you think would happen if you simply asked them to stop what they are doing and listen to what you are asking?They still might not jump up and immediately go do what you say but it will open a dialogue where you can discuss your request and your expectations in a calm and positive way that is beneficial for everyone.