Thinking is a skill. Did you know that? In fact, it’s an extremely important skill. How you think, the attitudes you develop, and the thoughts you pay attention to, shape your outlook on life.
It’s crucial to observe your thoughts in order to understand which ones you are feeding. The thoughts you feed grow into larger beliefs. Here are five thinking strategies to help you get in touch and gain more control of your inner thought stream:
1. Zooming out – Zooming out allows us to move past our mind’s hamster wheel of thinking, to a more objective perspective. Observe your thoughts without judgment. Notice where your mind gravitates: is there a certain thought/situation/event you become stuck on? What do you need to help you become unstuck? Slow, even, and deep breaths allow us to slow down, zoom out, and problem solve.
2. Visualization – Images, like words, are powerful. So how about you make your mind’s eye choose empowering, nourishing, and feel-good images. Similar to the way you might think “happy thoughts,” you have the power to visualize happiness (e.g., answering those interview questions calmly, confidently, and with a smile). Surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting images in your environment can be helpful, too.
3. Self-soothing statements – We use these statements with children all the time: It’s okay; You tried your best; We’ll get through this; You worked really hard; I’m proud of you; I can help; I love you. These types of self-soothing statements should be a part of our everyday language we use with ourselves.
4. Reframing – Reframing helps us avoid all-or-none or black-and-white thinking. Reframing a situation helps us think in terms of shades of gray and brainstorm alternative perspectives. The most intelligent people I’ve met have been able to turn any situation on its side and look for the lesson(s) embedded within. Life has a way of presenting us with the same lesson until that lesson is learned. Observe and be open in order to grow.
5. Gratitude – This is one of my favorite thinking exercises. At some point in our lives, most of us fall prey to the expectation that life “owes” us something. My meditation teacher says that the most any of us have in our control are our actions and efforts. The opportunity to say “thank you” is a blessing. Take a moment to read that statement again. Aim to exude gratitude in thought, spoken word, and deed.