Letting go of unhelpful thinking

Have you ever decided to give up having a glass (or two) or wine during the week or giving up crisps and all you seem to be able to focus on is the wine and crisps you’ve decided to give up?


Have you ever driven down the road noticing a pothole ahead, told yourself to take extra care and then promptly driven right into it giving your car and yourself a proper jolt?


Here’s why this happens—we are naturally drawn towards something we should be taking care to avoid because it’s where we’re focussing our attention. It happens all the time.


Robin Sharma, the author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari says,


“What you focus on grows. What you think about expands.”


I’ve seen this in my life and during conversations with my clients on numerous occasions.


This is why when I work with clients and they come to me with a worry or concern they have about the future, or that they’re worried about being alone for the rest of their lives, I just don’t go there with them. 


I appreciate that sounds harsh! Instead we head upstream to the source of our experience rather than getting bogged down in the detail. It seems counterintuitive I know that. However, when we focus on the source we often find that the details takes care of themselves. Problems vanish and solutions are found with ease.


Yesterday a client was telling me about the long summer holidays ahead with a house full of grandchildren and a diary full of work commitments. She was remembering past holidays and the struggle she’d had to get anything done. She was remembering the fraught moments and the really unpleasant feelings she had at the time and was bringing them bang up to date right into our conversation. Except that….it wasn’t happening right now.


Another client was recounting all the problems she’d faced dating in the past, the ghosting, the lack of suitable dates, the difficulty of writing anything about herself, the photos….and that was before she started telling me of all the things her friends had experienced! Once again, ‘stories’ from the past and most of them not even true!


Listening to her speak sounded to me as if she had a big highlighter pen and was highlighting this thinking as IMPORTANT, something to be noted and watched out for. Both clients were already flagging up those remembered feelings and feeling them in anticipation. This was like suffering it in advance!


I was curious because it seemed a little crazy to me. And as I shared my thoughts with both of them in that moment it sounded crazy to them too.


Why would you highlight things that may not even come about? We really don’t need to attract any more attention to some already unhelpful thinking.


The thing I’ve found to be true in all cases is that adding more thinking to an already active line of thinking leaves us more stressed, more confused and takes us further from a clearer mind. When we let go of the thinking or even simply realise we’re getting caught up we naturally find our equilibrium and clarity.


I trust that both my clients will be absolutely fine as they deal with whatever arises in the moment.


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