Last week I gave 3 suggestions of how you can use the first tool: Get Awareness Around Your Thinking.
This week we’re diving deeper into the idea of checking thoughts against results. Next week I’ll be sharing some specific techniques you can use to release resistance.
2nd Tool To Get Unstuck.
This tool is checking thoughts against the results that you want. Or we can just shorten it and call it: check thoughts against results.
Checking your thoughts against results helps you to get further awareness around what you are thinking and what you are creating.
It makes perfect sense because what you are thinking, that’s your thoughts, what you are creating, that’s your results.
The other thing about this tool is that this gives you your power back. When people feel stuck, they feel powerless. They feel paralyzed. Maybe they feel apathetic. They might feel confined or trapped. I want to give you a way to really take your power back away from the stuckness. When you are feeling stuck and powerless, you might feel like you only have one option (and usually, it’s not a very good one – it might be to just stay stuck). This tool is about considering the results that you want. You might even notice there are many options to get those results.
Stuck in a Job
The example we worked through together last week when we talked about getting awareness was about someone who felt stuck about quitting her job.
And that same day, before the episode even posted, this message was shared by someone online. The back story is that she really wanted to leave her current job for a new job that was closer to where she lived and paid her more money. Just as she had decided to go ahead and make the switch, her current job gave her a raise. But then, plot twist, the new job came in with an even higher offer. She didn’t know what to do. She wanted the new job and the higher pay but she felt so stuck about actually quitting the current job.
She wrote: “I’m gonna talk to my boss and tell her I need to take this new job and hope she understands and doesn’t hate me. As someone who constantly over-thinks, I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight.”
When I read that my heart just went out to her for having to deal, first of all with the stuck feeling of staying in the old job longer than she needed to, but I felt more sympathy for her feeling of FEAR that her current boss wouldn’t like her when she gave notice.
I’m a big fan of sleep – so anything that causes anyone to needlessly lose sleep really bothers me.
By now, our overthinking friend has already quit that lower paying, further distance job, but we’ll still use the general example as we talk about checking thoughts against results.
What Do You Want?
One thing to consider is to really specifically think about what you do really want.
Just for fun and to notice the difference, let’s play with emphasis.
Put the emphasis on every individual word in that sentence, so that you can get a different level of awareness, or a different understanding, of what you are really thinking.
What Do You Really Want?
Let’s move the emphasis around here just to see what comes up. What do you really want? By putting the emphasis on what, you get awareness around this specific thing, or result that you’re focusing on.
For our sleepless overthinking friend- did she really want the higher pay and the shorter commute or did she want the adoration of her boss (which is outside of her control, by the way).
What Do You Really Want?
By putting the emphasis on you, it really causes us to think “Wow, do I want this? Is this what I really want?”
I think about this one for myself sometimes when I see how my colleagues talk about being a full time coach with a full schedule of coaching clients. Who wouldn’t want that? Isn’t that why we go through certification and market ourselves and show up on social media? To fill our schedules?
But actually, when I ask myself the question “is that what I really want,?” The answer is no. I don’t want to have a full time schedule. I like a lot more freedom and flexibility. Someone else might argue, well, then you make less money. So then I can ask myself “is making more money what I really want?” And I realize, no.
What I really want is to have more freedom and flexibility (even with less money) rather than a fully booked schedule with more money.
I’m just using this as an example because I know all combinations are possible. I know the amount of money I earn is not only dependent specifically on the hours I work. I’m just using those specific options as examples of what some of us might be thinking and how we can check what we want by asking ourselves the question.
What Do You Really Want?
You can ask the same question again, with emphasis on, really. This would sound like: what do I really want? It changes the question because now we’re prioritizing and putting in order, things that we want and maybe we realize we want this specific result more than any other result.
From the job quitting example, the employee realizes of course she wants her current boss not to be mad at her for quitting, but what she really wants is a shorter commute and a higher salary.
I just love putting the emphasis on different words in that one sentence, because it really lets you consider the results that you want and then you can take all of those answers that you just came up with, and go one step deeper and ask yourself why.
5 Why Technique
Have you heard of the 5 Why Technique from Sakichi Toyoda in the early 1900s? He promoted the idea of asking why 5 times in a row to discover the source of a problem.
I’m not suggesting you ask yourself “Why?” five times, and I’m not suggesting you need to discover a source, or that whatever you’re dealing with is a problem.
It is an interesting exercise to go deeper into your thinking to ask yourself why at least 3 times and see what comes up as you answer.
This might sound like something a little child would do to annoy us or maybe they’re really just curious. But as annoying as it might sound, it is such a valuable exercise. I don’t think we ask ourselves why frequently or repeatedly enough.
Ask Yourself Why
Let’s run through how asking yourself why might sound.
If someone is feeling stuck around taking action in their business. Using the tool of checking thoughts against results, they might first ask themselves “What do I really want?” Let’s say they ask themselves that question 3 times with the emphasis on a different word each time and come up with new awareness about the results they want.
One of the answers they come up with is: I want my business to take off so that I can do it full time and quit my current job. Why?
So that I don’t have to continue working there. Why?
Because it drains my energy and puts me in a bad mood. Why?
Because the company is being managed very ineffectively and it seems like the teams are being set up to compete against each other instead of collaborating together.
That’s really good awareness right? Because the person started out thinking about replacing their current income with their new business and now, we can also see why the current job is a drain on energy and mood.
When I think about that additional information, I can see so many more options for this person. Of course they can continue to work on growing their business. And, they might also decide to get a different role in their current workplace or a different job altogether. Or, they might decide to work on their thoughts that are creating the drain of energy and mood and stay in the job without putting any pressure or requirements on growing their new business.
It changes things a little, right?
You Already Have it
As you’re checking your thoughts against your results, and as you’re figuring out what you want and why, you can also include what you want, that you already have.
Thinking about what you already have is really interesting because it does a few different things for you. The awareness and recognition of what you want and already have puts you in gratitude and appreciation.
It puts you in abundance. It removes the threat of scarcity. It might open your eyes to possibilities that you were not aware of or not paying attention to while you were considering and thinking about things that you didn’t yet have.
An example of this from my own life is noticing that I want to design my daily schedule around exactly how I want to spend my time. I don’t want to start anything or have any appointments or meetings before about 10:30 or 11 am because I love spending my first few hours of my day, the best part of my day, on my favorite things. I don’t like to feel rushed or hurried in the morning. I like to give myself enough time to journal for as long as I feel like and to do physical activities and check my schedule and check things online. So, as I’m noticing the results I want for myself, I frequently notice that I want to design my schedule – and I get to. I am so grateful for this aspect of my lifestyle. It makes me so happy and gives me the idea that I can design my whole life and that I can have whatever I decide is really important to me, whatever I really want.
Why You Have Your Current Results
Once you know the results that you want and you’ve dialed in, much more deeply by asking the questions in many different ways and asking yourself why at many different levels, the next thing you can consider is: why do you have the results that you do currently have?
And why don’t you have the results that you don’t have yet.
Now, I want to point out: while you’re considering what you don’t yet have,this is not a time to blame or complain. This is just a time to look at all the facts, all the situations neutrally and with open curiosity.
The main point here is still to get awareness. We are trying to specifically get awareness around thoughts that create results you want and thoughts that create results that you don’t want.
Here are a few things you can try: zoom out, make it less personal and substitute.
Imagine that you are feeling stuck in your relationship, and you have just made a list of what you want and what you have and what you want that you don’t yet have. You’re noticing there are certain parts of your relationship that you don’t have yet. You can check your thoughts about those parts by zooming out.
A way to zoom out is to not make this about you in your current relationship, but to think about an anonymous generic couple and then assign those same desires to that same couple. By zooming out and being very distant from that relationship, as in not being a member of the relationship. You might be able to see more possibilities and more options, and other ways of thinking than you can see while you are playing the major role in your version of the relationship.
Make it Less Personal
The second suggestion is to make it less personal which is very similar to zooming out. You can make it less personal by considering “what might someone else think, not me personally, but what would a stranger think?” What would a disinterested third party think?
We’re just detaching ourselves from the personal dramatic threatening situation that’s causing us to feel fearful and worried and stuck.
A third way to check your thinking is with substitution. When I’m in a situation, and I’m feeling really close to it and very personally affected by it and very unable to zoom out, or think of it from a disinterested third party, if it’s still really all about me and I’m not able to detach from it, one way that I can get a little bit of awareness, and see things more objectively, is by substituting.
Going back to feeling stuck about quitting a job. Maybe our friend is worried about how other people will react.
The way I like to use substitution to replace the elements of the thoughts and the story that the person is telling themself with an area of their life where they have no resistance, where they don’t feel stuck at all.
What Will People Think?
If our example friend is having thoughts like “I’m really worried about what other people will say or think if I quit.”
We could substitute out the elements in the sentences as if they were a part of her life where she feels completely free and full of possibility. In her case, maybe that is about her relationships.
Let’s say she’s never had any problems meeting people and starting new relationships and she feels confident in that area of her life. So we could just substitute the elements: instead of quitting a job, what if you have decided you were going to quit or end a relationship.
Would you have the thought, “oh what will people think? She might say
“Oh no I wouldn’t care what other people would think.”
Would you have the thought “the person I’m leaving might be mad and hate me.”
From her confident experience, she might say “yes, of course they’ll be mad and maybe hurt and disappointed that I’m leaving, but this is the right choice for me in my life. I’m not going to stay in a relationship just to not disappoint the other person.”
Substituting Different Elements
Do you see how substituting the situation and the elements changes the thoughts. And the thoughts are coming from the same person. In one case, she’s worried about her boss hating her for leaving, but she wouldn’t hesitate leaving a relationship that wasn’t what she wanted.
We’re just substituting the different elements just so she can recognize within her own brain, and within her own belief system, where she sees possibility and where she feels complete freedom to move around and try different options. If she feels stuck, she borrow that freedom and confidence and possibility from the areas of her life where she doesn’t feel stuck.
It’s so interesting to think about, right?
If You Stuck
So If you are feeling stuck about anything in your life, consider getting awareness around your thinking with journaling or coaching or just by labeling what you are thinking.
Then, get deeper awareness by really noticing what you want and what you already have and asking yourself why.
Further explore by zooming out, getting less personal and substituting. And, we’re not done yet, because at this point your brain might give you all the reasons why things would work for a generic couple but wouldn’t work for you or why a disinterested 3rd party might think something about your situation, but it doesn’t really apply or why of course you can think one way in one area of your life, but you can’t just substitute that thought into a different area of your life.
Yes! I know! All of those reasons your brain comes up with is your resistance. It’s all good to notice and pay attention to.
Next week I’ll be sharing how to release all that resistance when it does come up.
What About You?
As always, I will be so curious to hear what came up for you as you read this post:
What additional questions do you have?
What personal examples of checking your thoughts against results can you share?
What resistance came up for you as you read the techniques that I shared?
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