Don't Believe Everything You Think
Ohhhh the power of the mind and how easily it can warp reality. Who has ever told themselves something that they know isn't true, but it feels like it is? Anyone? I know I'm guilty of this more than I like to admit. I think we often underestimate the power and influence we have on ourselves. The self-talk, justification and pure out lies we somehow convince ourselves to be true. It's a slippery slope to get caught up in because once that tornado of self-doubt, shame, I could never's, and I'm not good enough's... begin, it can take some true grit to get out of it. More often than not, before we can even make our first move, we are already thinking of all the possibilities of why said move is a bad idea, why we could fail, why we aren't the right person or the timing isn't right, how others will perceive us - our family, colleagues, peers. It's ridiculous! It's self-sabotage that most of us do without even being aware if it. Now I am all for realistic expectations, and intentional decisions, but there is a fine line where recognizing the "risks" turns into a deep hole of "how could I possibly be successful in anything I do?" And it's so much more than just that, how you think and what you believe, shapes every aspect of your life. Your mindset and self-talk has the power to support and uplift your relationships, marriage, well-being, performance and passions if you nurture and exercise it daily. And with practice one day you all of a sudden see yourself differently. And the minute you see yourself differently is the minute you see everything else differently. If your confident in yourself, the way you feel, the way you work, the way you look, whatever, believe it or not it does actually impact every aspect of your life.
How often do we get into silly arguments because of assumptions, or because we aren't being authentic with ourselves? Or because we feel like someone is angry without actually talking to them? You know when your mind starts naming off all worst case scenarios and then pairs said scenarios with relational explanations on why it's true? It's like a really bad google deep dive that you can't find yourself out of. One of my all time favourite people to listen to when I am in need of a serious reality check is Brene Brown. Lordy, Lordy this woman has an incredible gift of speech. Brene talks in-depth around empathy, vulnerability, shame, and courage (to name a few). She often says "they story I tell myself...". We are neurologically hardwired to make sense of the world around us. When we experience pain, rejection, and challenging situations our mind tries to protect itself as it works to understand. Through this, we often perceive things that aren't fully accurate. We make up these stories in our head and when we believe them, they have the power to ruin relationships, performance and our overall well-being. Often times, saying that out loud can help you rationally walk through where you have perhaps exaggerated things, where you may be deflecting and struggling with self-identity or even discover things that are simply not true. When I started consciously practicing this it made a world of a difference in my marriage and friendships. The first time I ever used this was life-changing (and extremely emotional). The ability to communicate the f**ked up things we convince ourselves to be true is insane. That will be an entirely different blog post, but for now I'm happy to provide another example. I was able to clearly communicate to Brandon what I believed to be true, and when spoken out loud both Brandon and I could work through what was true about that statement, what was false, and validate how I felt about it. The power you regain by identifying and owning your feelings is incredible. Not only did I realize how ridiculous I sounded, I was able to share that Brandons actions (regardless of his intent) made me feel a certain way.
Men and women are created so differently, and the way they think and process information, responsibilities and communication is vastly different. Brandon is a very busy man. He has always worked side jobs, doing favours for friends and family, and working on his own projects. These things usually take up the majority of his free time. That was really hard for me. And still is from time to time. I really value time spent together. Words of affirmation and quality time are probably my top two ways I feel loved the most. I remember sitting down with Brandon shortly after we got married and I chose to just lay it on the line. The story I tell myself is this: the reason you spend so much time away from home is because you would rather be working than spending time with me. The story I tell myself is you don't like spending time with me.
Wow. It can be really scary saying exactly how you feel.
Here's what we learned very quickly with this conversation. Brandon was taken by surprise when I said this. In fact, he laughed. It was so absurd to him. Ellie, I love you. I married you! If I didn't want to be with you, I wouldn't be here. Helping my family and friends is important to me, and favours go both ways. Coming home to you is my favourite part of my day. God, self-doubt and insecurities can just warp your reality sometimes.
This was the beginning of a productive discussion that touched on many things that we still circle back to today. How we show love, how we feel love (and how those are different), and the responsibilities we feel within our marriage and family all impact the way we spend our time. Brandon often shows love through physical touch and acts of service. My car is always clean, full of gas and he often leaves a car trip treat for me (my favourite gum, coconut water, starbs, you name it). He always makes me dinner, all my meals on weekends (when he's home), and will have my coffee ready the moment Beau and I come downstairs. I can rarely pass by him without some kind of love tap.
I predominately show love with words of affirmation and acts of service. I try my best to validate, encourage, compliment and empathize with those around me. I like to keep a tidy and fully stocked home (snacks, fruit, drinks), launder the clothes, do pick up and drop offs, and have things readily prepared for the taking. It's important to communicate how you feel loved the most, while also recognizing how others show their love. Once you're able to identify these, it becomes easier to appreciate how your partner shows love and become intentional to show love in ways your partner receives it the best.. am I making sense? I hope so.
I recently listened to a podcast with Brene Brown, Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard, and one of the topics they touched on was the power of self-talk, how the story we tell ourselves can manipulate things and (after some hardcore reflection took place) understanding on the root cause. Dax shared a great example with his wife (Kristen Bell- looovee her). When they first started dating, Kristen was working closely with a charity doing work in Africa. He began talking about how the arguments at first were about how the charity in particular wasn't one that he believed was doing good work, then the arguments turned into "well, you were already away last month for such and such, and next month you have a two weekend conference, do you really need to be doing this as well?", and finally -after the 300th time fighting over this charity- Dax was finally in a place where he could uncover his truth of "I fear that -I'm afraid that- this passion you have and work you've dedicated yourself to will be prioritized over me. I'm afraid you would choose that over me." And once he voiced that concern (that need), Kristen simply said "I will never put anything before you." And Dax went on to say, never again have I worried about another charity, or even questioned its integrity. (Unlocking Us with Brene Brown, Dec 16,2020 episode). Taking time to be authentic with yourself cuts half your battles in half, and choosing to bravely voice those brings you one step closer to overcoming them.
Guys, what you think isn't necessarily true, and when you challenge those thoughts you welcome the opportunity to understand where those thoughts are coming from. Whether you believe you can't achieve things because you're stuck in fear, feel lost in a whirlwind of shame, or have unresolved insecurities about self-worth (hi, I'm talking to myself here too). It's scary choosing to be vulnerable and perhaps a little jarring pushing yourself into a room where it's you against your own mind. But I promise you, pushing those limits, exploring and reflecting on where these feelings are coming from, you will come out better. You will have a deeper understanding, recognizing triggering subjects, and learn so much about yourself. I encourage you to walk forward, at whatever pace you need. Don't look back, you aren't going that way.
All my love,