Lastweek I made the observation that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts aday and that 95 percent of them are the same ones he or she had the daybefore.• Many of these thoughts arebenign reminders of what needs to get done and how to do it. “Shave. Change theblade. Turn the key. Go to work.” You know the routine.
Butsome of these thoughts are scripts that have been running through our head,every day, for most of our lives with profoundly negative consequences. I knowmany people who repeat the following “truths” to themselves over and overagain:
- “I’ve never been able to lose weight and keep it off.”
- “I just can’t remember names.”
- “I’m terrible at directions.”
- “I can never forgive myself for that.”
- “I’m stupid.”
- “I’m always right.”
- “No one ever listens to me.”
- “I’m tired all the time.”
- “I don’t have enough.”
- “I’m allergic to just about everything.”
- “I hate myself.”
Soundfamiliar? Such repetitive, negative thoughts take a tremendous toll. Theybecome self-fulfilling prophecies. We are what we think. A great way to changewho we are is to change what we think about ourselves, especially those mantrasthat I call psychological zingers or scripts.
Oneof the first things I do with my coaching clients is I have them write down aclear set of personal and professional goals. Most people are comfortable withthat. I then have them rewrite those goals as positive, present-tenseaffirmations.
- “I want to lose weight,” becomes “I eat and live like a thin person.”
- “I want to be fast enough to qualify for and run well in the Boston marathon,” becomes “I am a fast runner who deserves to compete with the best.”
- “I want to learn how to manage money and become a successful financial advisor,” becomes “I know how to manage money and I attract wealthy clients.”
- “I want to turn this company around,” becomes “I make good business decisions and play on a winning team.”
- “I want to feel better,” becomes “I feel better today than I felt yesterday.”
Manypeople get uncomfortable with this part of the exercise. “But it’s not true!”they protest, “I don’t feel better! I haven’t realized those goals yet. Itfeels like I’m playing games with myself. It feels like self-deception.” With alittle work, however, most clients make the shift from seeing these affirmationsas self-deception to seeing them as self-direction. Especially if they take thetime to do their homework: writing them down, fifteen times, every morning andevery night.
Tochange your script, to break repetitive negative thought patterns, one has toreplace them with repetitive positive thought patterns. Writing out positivepresent-tense affirmations every morning and every night is a precursor torepeating these affirmations mentally throughout the day. And thatself-direction or self-coaching is a precursor to being and becoming the personyou know yourself to be. Try it for 30 days. Make the shift. Change yourself-talk. I know from experience that wonderful things will begin to happen.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC