There is a popular saying that goes, “I am my own biggest critic.” There is another popular saying, which goes, “I am my own worst enemy,” and all of which can be true. We can beat ourselves up. We can hold ourselves accountable for things that were far beyond our control. We can blame ourselves and punish ourselves but the punishment is in the mind.
Marcus Aurelius once said, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
Think about this for a second.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.
Therefore, if the above sayings are true and if we act as our own worst critic or enemy, what quality of life do we have after this?
What happens when we think about or focus on a personal tension or a fear?
What happens when we think about a moment of anger, shame or regret?
What happens when we focus on weakness or our inability to be better than just average?
Think about the conversations we have with ourselves. Think about old conversations. Think about old resentments or moments when we were humiliated and shamed.
What is the result of this?
One thing that happens is our mind goes through a series of events which creates a chemical similarity of emotions we’ve felt in the past, which means we literally feel the results of our mental mindset.
So then yes, the saying is true. We can be our worst enemy. We can be our biggest critics. We are the direction in which our thoughts take place.
We become our internal dialogue. We take on the chemical reaction and become the actors that play out in the movies we run in our head. Therefore, if we think it we become it.
Man is what he thinketh is another saying. Then again, so is woman. So is anyone. We are who we believe we are. Aren’t we?
Everything we are and everything we do is based on a trained way of living. Everything we think is based on habitual routines and experiences, which have been trained how to live, how to survive, how to intermingle with others and how to coexist in the palace we call “The world.”
Our brain is always calculating the math of events and creating predictions. But what if the factors we use are inaccurate? What if we are mistaken? Or what if we misjudge?
Or what’s the difference? We believe what we believe.
We are the quality of our thoughts but what does this mean? And of course, one would ask, “What do I do about it?”
The obvious is if we think poorly about ourselves then we feel poorly about ourselves.
Okay. So now what?
We understand that our thoughts link us to feelings. We also understand that thoughts are not always rational. Thoughts are not always fact. Instead, thoughts are neither about fact or fiction. They’re just thoughts but what if our thoughts betray us? How do we improve this fact?
There is a common struggle people have with fear. There is the uncomfortable fear of the unknown, which can be painfully awkward enough to keep us in the track of finding comfort in our discomforts.
There is a common discomfort when engaging in the ideas of change and/or personal improvement.
The trouble we face are the doubts that plague our thoughts. We are connected to the trained sentiments of pass or fail, win or lose, pride or shame.
The foreign sense of awkwardness when we go against the grid is uncomfortable. Therefore, we slip back to our old, default settings and resist the changes because in our thoughts, we do not believe that changing anything is possible.
How does one change the way they think?
How does one change this, especially if they’ve thought the same way for such a long time?
How does one change the way they believe when the data they’ve collected supports their belief system?
If emotion can be affected by thought and the end result of an emotional button results in a chemical response, what can we do to learn how to push different buttons?
What practices can we take on to create a new thought system and routine?
Is exercise the answer? Is changing our diet or changing the way we travel an answer? In fairness, any change or new form of practice can be the answer.
Rather than repeating the process that pushes the same emotional buttons, we have to create a new format and break the chain of events.
Example: A client came home from an inpatient substance abuse program. The client was away for several months and planned to go home to live with his parents. The client was young. However, the idea of going home was intimidating for different reasons.
So, rather than go home and take on the mood of the old bedroom, on day one, the client’s first task was to redesign his bedroom completely to create a new atmosphere. This resulted in a sense of newness. This allowed the client to create a new stage for themselves and at minimum, alleviate the subconscious ideas. The client changed the room around and took on the emotional reaction of positive achievement.
Replace thought with action is a popular saying. This works because the action replaces the end result of emotion with a new feeling. This is not a one time process. The client in the example above had other changes to meet, which was fine because the end result was the desired effect of recovery.
It would be inaccurate to believe this is a simple task. Mindfulness takes practice. Stoicism takes practice. And, same as our mind was trained to think and believe a certain way, it will take a new course of training to have our mind think and believe differently.
The popular saying is “I am my biggest critic,” or I am my own worst enemy.”
However, what if we viewed oppositely?
What if we were our biggest supporter? What if we were our own best friend?
What if instead of always expecting the worst, we assumed the best?
The problem with the mind is we are hinged to the ideas of success as if this defines our identity. We hold onto old conversations that were left unresolved and claim responsibility for someone else’s personality.
We take this personally.
But what would happen if we decided to unhinge? What would happen if we learned to disconnect from the behavior of others? What if we disconnected from the insults?
Where would our thinking be if we moved away from pass or fail?
What if we stopped adopting outside opinions as if they were a threat to our very being?
Where would our thoughts be then?
Better? Or worse?
Prized fighters often walk into the ring before their fight. They literally envision themselves walking into the ring. They envision the fight. They see their victory and practice having their hand raised because they won.
This does not always mean the fighter wins but this does mean the fighter went in with the best mindset possible.
What if we did this today? What if we predicted favorable conversations instead of arguments?
One thing that would happen is we would start the day with a stronger chemical balance. We would take on the chemical response our body feels when we succeed or “Win.” Therefore, we would feel better. Therefore, we think better. Change your actions to change your behaviors and this helps change your feelings. Step by step. Day by day. One movement at a time.
This is the road to better thinking.