A very small percentage of your thoughts are deliberate. The majority just pop into your head, usually in reaction to something.
Whether deliberate or not, those thoughts make you feel a certain way, and those feelings drive your actions. Sorry – I know you want to think that every action you take is directed explicitly by consciously-chosen and bias-free thoughts, but hahahahahahaha.
Those actions you take then create results in your life. Those results might be good or bad or in between or a combination and life is complex. But here’s the thing – the results then generate further outside stimuli.
Which creates thoughts.
So now you’re in the loop, the pattern. You see what’s happening? Feedback. White water rapids, carrying you along, mostly without your active consent.
But all is not lost! Get on that life raft. (That’s a joke, as you’ll see in a minute).
There’s a term for this pattern, called TFAR, which stands for Thoughts – Feelings – Actions – Results. But we can play with that acronym and flip it around and then it becomes RAFT, which I like better because it has a sort of symbolic ring to it.
The point though, is that you can interrupt this cycle and shape it in the future. You can work backwards from the results you want to see, in order to recognize the actions, feelings and thoughts that will get you there.
First, you need some awareness. Look at the current results – the ones you wish were different. What actions did you take that got you there? Write it down. Write it down. Write all of this, because it’s helpful.
Now, write what you were feeling when you chose that action. This will be uncomfortable, probably. Good.
Now, write down what belief led you to feel the way you felt. That’s the core “thought” that led to everything else.
Was that thought really and truly a conscious, deliberate thought? Or did you think that because some outside stimuli dropped that thought into your head, and you internalized it and it set off this whole negative chain?
Interrupt that cycle. Recognize it. Write down the result you wished had happened instead, now. Then write down what actions would have led to that result. Then write down how you’d have to feel in order to take that action. Then write down what you’d have to believe in order to feel that way.
Memorize that new core thought. Make that the internal voice. Write it on your arm if you have to. But the next time the original thought, the one that set off the whole thing, comes back into your head, you’ll be prepared. You’ll know to stop, and before the whole chain begins again, you’ll repeat the thought you want to be true. You’ll say it like a mantra, over and over. You’ll write it down a few times. Anything to embed it.
Then, like a planted seed, let it grow. Let a different cycle take over, a positive one. Get out of the rapids and onto the RAFT that you want.