Thoughts vs Circumstances
Yesterday I wrote about how stepping on the scales to weigh yourself can be an opportunity to observe your thinking, and the feeling your thoughts create.
Today I would like to stick with focusing on thinking and look more closely at thoughts vs. facts or as I call them, circumstances.
Recognising the difference between ‘your thoughts about’ and ‘the facts of’ a situation is the very first step in mastering an improved level of self-awareness that will massively help you make changes in your life, whether that is lose weight, improve a relationship, or get a promotion at work.
Usually, when we identify a problem in our lives, such as weighing too much, or our husband being inconsiderate, we think of the problem as a circumstance. It seems and feels as though ‘being 30 lbs overweight or ‘husband letting us down because he didn’t do what he said’ is fact. But it isn’t. It’s ultimately a thought.
I suspect you may be slightly disbelieving of what I am saying but stick with me.
I think you might agree that whilst it may feel true to one person that they are 30 lbs over weight, not everyone in the world would agree. Others may think that person only has 20 lbs to lose or even that they look amazing exactly as they are, and they shouldn’t lose any weight. Others might think that person has more like 40lbs to lose.
The actual circumstance in this situation is what the scale reads. It is simply the number. Not how the number is interpreted or what someone makes it mean.
Likewise, when my husband says in the morning that he will pick our son up from school, and then calls me mid-afternoon to say that he cannot make it, the events themselves, or more specifically the words he speaks, are neutral circumstances. It’s only when I have a negative thought about him, it’s only when I make it mean something negative, that he’s inconsiderate. In the same situation another wife may think ‘I so appreciate having a husband who is so committed to his work’ and hence makes it mean something totally different.
The reason why I am labouring this point, is because just by grasping this concept you can help yourself to feel better about so many things in your life.
Once you understand and start to realise that every problem in your life that seemed like a circumstance problem is a thought problem, you start to take back control of your life. You are accepting that you, and only you, have the power to change your experience of your life by choosing how you want to think about it.
And this is excellent news! It means that you are not at the mercy of things that happen, circumstances that happen in your life. You get to choose how you feel about them.
Tomorrow I am going to teach you how to do a Thought Download so that you can start to get aware of your thoughts and observe with curiosity what you are making circumstances mean. Are you choosing to think negatively or positively about different circumstances in your life?
In the meantime, let’s just review what I covered here. Circumstances are the facts about something. They are completely neutral and have no judgment applied to them. They are not open to interpretation and everyone in the world would agree. They include other people’s behaviour, our pasts, and the economy. Most of my clients believe their feelings, actions, and results are caused by circumstances. They are wrong, and this is one of the most common forms of self-induced suffering. Believing that things we cannot control cause our emotions leaves us powerless to change.
Thoughts are the cause of all emotions in our lives. Whatever we decide to believe and think will determine how we feel. If my husband divorces me (circumstance), that is a neutral event, a fact, until I apply meaning to it.
I might think: “This is horrible,”
or I might think: “This is awesome.”
Depending on what I decide to think and believe, I will either feel positive or negative emotions.
Most people think that it’s their life circumstances that cause them emotional pain, so they try to manipulate and change the circumstance.
I teach my clients that they can change how they feel by changing their thoughts.
This is hugely important for my weight loss clients who believe that life will be wonderful once they get to their goal weight. When I ask them why life will be wonderful when they get to their goal weight, they will tell me how they will think and feel.
And then I show them how they have the option of creating the feeling they think they will experience when they lose their weight ahead of time. I show them that they have the option to change their thinking, and how they feel about their lives right here and now, they don’t need to lose weight in order to feel this way.
This takes a lot of practice it is a slow process, but it is critical in helping clients to understand how they can manage their own minds. And once clients feel better about their current life it so much easier to lose the weight.
They create a virtuous circle.