Could you go seven days without thinking anything negative about yourself, about your situation, about other people? Could you manage NOT to get pissed off on your journey to work, NOT panic at your phone bill and NOT worry about the future?
That’s what I’m doing right now. It’s something Tony calls a 7 DAY MENTAL DIET.
He reckons that the quality of our thoughts is the quality of our lives – and so if we have crappy thoughts, even if we live in a lovely house, with a lovely family, and have a lovely job – it’s going to feel crappy.
Ever since the Tony extravaganza (do you notice how much I keep using his name? It really is love…) I’ve realised just how much I am wedded to my POOR ME, DO MYSELF DOWN way of thinking. It’s an identity I’ve created for myself and it’s getting SO BORING!
I realised this during the Power of Now month and did very well stepping away from my negative thoughts with meditation and lots of walking around the park looking at squirrels but, of course, it creeps back in. Not to the same extent, but it’s still there.
That’s the thing with this self-help lark. You have to keep working at it, just like you have to keep going to the gym. You don’t just read the book, do a few things, and then wham bam, you’re fixed. You’ve gotta keep at it.
SO the mental diet started three days ago. And helping me is…
THE RUBBER BAND.
This isn’t Tony’s idea (I’m going off piste) but I was reading somewhere last week about how how psychologists say that a great way to break a habit is to try wearing a rubber band on your wrist. Whenever you catch yourself acting on one of your bad habits or having negative/bitchy/worrying thoughts, you snap the rubber band hard enough for it to hurt.
Like Pavlov’s dog, Yale scientists argue that you should begin to associate the bad habit with a negative emotion, which in turn makes you more likely to stop and become happier.
So that’s what I’m doing – I’m pinging the band every time I worry about something – usually the future – or beat myself up for something. I am doing a double whammy too by adding the Power of Now phrase ‘Be here now’.
I’ve pinged it about five times this morning, not too bad really. It’s really effective because it makes you very aware of your thoughts and now, just when I’m about to have a negative thought (usually just through habit, not because anything is going wrong) I stop myself because I know I’ll have to ping.
Tony also says that when you catch yourself focusing on the negative you’re to ask questions such as ‘What’s great about this?’ ‘What can I learn from this?’ so they’re going to be my new catchphrases.
And if you start thinking about something you’ve messed up, instead of saying ‘I’m useless’ tell yourself ‘I’m great!’ Ha. That’s a step too far. Another thing he suggests is spending 10 per cent of your time thinking about the problem and 90 per cent thinking about the solution… It’s a bit management speak but I like it. I have been a master at focussing on the problem – time for a change. Solutions baby, that’s what it’s all about…
Jesus Christ, who am I?
PS – green juice drunk, park walk done, PRIMING done… but I am working in a coffee shop today which means I have not yet jumped up and down to a pop song. Instead I’m kind of slowly shuffling in my seat to some sort of cool jazz thing that’s playing. It’s not quite the same as the Black Eyed Peas but it’s still a wiggle… and it all counts.