فصل 06

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فصل 06

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Chapter 6

“I am not my thoughts; I am what I do.”

“You are not defined by what’s inside your head. You are what you do. Your actions.”

“Change your thoughts, change your life.”

I was scrolling through Facebook recently when I came across this little gem. It had more likes than Justin Bieber and comments up the yin yang.

As I sat there in my crimson smoking jacket and pale yellow cravat, I pondered its philosophical weight while sipping softly at the edges of my evening crème de menthe. (Okay, I was wearing an old AC/DC t-shirt and sweatpants and drinking coffee, but you get the picture). After a moment, I thought to myself, “What a complete pile of bullshit that is”.

Imagine this: you’re at work, you’ve got something to do, but you’re dreading it, just not “feeling it” today. You glance at the clock. 10:34. Ah well, at least it’s not long until lunch.

“Hmm, what will I eat today? Oh, I’ve been wanting to try that new place down the street. My coworker said it’s really good. But I really should stick to my budget…” You suddenly snap back to reality and find yourself staring at the blinking cursor on your computer screen.

“Wow, I suck at this. I’m just not up for it today. I need some energy.”

Before you know it, you’ve opened your browser and are scrolling through one of your favorite time-wasting sites.

“Wowzer! Hover-shoes?! I could really use some of those!!”

Quick step back to reality. You check your email. A message from your credit card company. “I’m in so much debt. I’m never going to get out of this mess. No hover shoes or lunch out for me.” A notification from that online dating site you signed up for a few weeks ago. “I’ll never find someone. My love life is a disaster. Maybe relationships and I just don’t match.” Someone walks past your cubicle. You frantically click your mouse and mash on the keyboard, feigning busyness for the unsuspecting intruder. “Whew, that was close!” Look at the clock again. 11:13. Another half an hour wasted. “I should really get to work… right after I…”

Is any of this sounding familiar? Maybe you don’t work in an office, but you can still relate to that feeling of dread that hits when you’re faced with something you’ve been resisting. Like you’d rather do anything than the task at hand. That, “to-do”, list quickly becomes a “don’t-wanna-do” list.

Even if you’re married or already in a relationship you might also identify with those feelings of undesirability. When your thoughts about your situation have become more consuming and debilitating than everything else. When you have become so distracted from what your relationship is supposed to be about, so embroiled in the should/shouldn’ts, could/couldn’ts and who’s right or wrong you often wonder why the hell you’re still in it at all.

The truth is, we all do this from time to time. Even the most driven, most successful, and wisest among us have these kinds of thoughts.

So what is it that separates those successful people from you and me? They understand (consciously or otherwise) one simple thing: What they think and what they do don’t always have to align.

YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS

You are not your thoughts. You are not defined by what’s inside your head. You are what you do. Your actions.

“Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind”

  • Theodore Roosevelt

Most of us let our internal condition weigh heavily on what we do. But the truly great performers are great precisely because they’ve learned to experience those feelings while side stepping the inclination to act upon them.

It’s not that they never doubt themselves or never have a desire to procrastinate or avoid a particular situation. It’s not that they always “feel” like doing what they should.

They simply focus and lean in. They act anyway.

It’d be great if we could simply decide to never have a negative thought, but when it comes down to it, that’s just not realistic. I know, I know, my positive-thinking peeps are losing their minds at this statement but here’s something for even those people to consider. Haven’t you wondered why you came up with positivity as an answer to your life in the first place? Have you ever noticed how you are when impacted or surrounded by apparently negative people or situations? That’s right, even you get gripped by the old negative hand now and again no matter how you might try and avoid it.

The truth is, it’s difficult to have a say in, let alone control, what you think about. Especially because, as we’ve established elsewhere in this book, we’re not even aware of the majority of things we think about.

We have just as many pointless, irrelevant thoughts as important ones. Then there are those default thoughts that pop into your head day in and day out. Thoughts of unworthiness, being judged, not belonging or some lack of competence. All of this while going to work, paying your bills, going to the grocery store or driving your car!

Many of the things I teach my clients involve changing the way you approach and look at life. But these are long-term solutions. Ultimately my goal is to help you shift your subconscious. And that, my dears, is like turning a battleship. It takes time.

No matter how hard you try, you’re going to have the occasional negative thought. Maybe more than occasionally. Maybe every day. Maybe hundreds of times per day.

You’re going to have days where you don’t want to get out of bed, where you don’t want to go to work, where you don’t want to take care of your responsibilities. But you do. Every day you engage in activities that you don’t really want to do. That means you already have a muscle for having thoughts and acting independently of them.

As I consistently say to my clients, you don’t have to feel like today is your day, you just have to act like it is.

Sure, it never hurts to be in the right kind of mood or mindset, but if we sit around waiting to be in the perfect mood, we’re just never going to get started. I’ve come across literally thousands of people in my career who have spent their lives waiting to feel or think differently. And while inspiration or motivation may strike once in a while, they are fickle friends and can’t be depended on to show up whenever you need them.

“We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions”

– Aristotle

You change your life by doing, not by thinking about doing. In fact, when you become closely associated with the actions you are taking, something magical starts to become apparent.

Thoughts without actions are just that, thoughts and your negative thoughts about yourself, others or your circumstances will have no impact on your success as long as you leave them where they lie.

HOW DOING CHANGES YOUR THINKING

The benefits of doing are two-fold.

Doing gets you doing what you need to do, of course. But it is, ironically, also the quickest way to change your thoughts.

There are a couple reasons for this. We know your thoughts can become your reality. And when your reality is one of acting on the things that are in your best interests, your thoughts will actually shift to match that. Think about this: your thoughts (and the resulting feelings) are not always aligned with what is in the best interests of your life, your health, your finances or your potential. Many times those same thoughts and feelings are pulling you away from your potential. Things like doubt, fear, procrastination or frustration rule the day instead of the kind of positive action that will actually forward your life.

If you always attack the task at hand without hesitation, what will you think the next time you have something important to do? Your thoughts start to become intuitive action over time until you start to act independently of your negative thoughts time after time after time. Are you going to think about yourself and what you lack, or are you going to deal with the actions presenting themselves right there in that moment of time?

Haven’t you ever noticed, when you’re fully immersed in something, all of your problems or negative conversations seem to disappear? When you are cognitively and genuinely engaged in a practice or project, that internal chatter gets quieter and quieter. The golfers, tennis players, meditators, knitters, musicians, artists and runners among us know exactly what I am talking about. Athletes call this “the zone.” And the good news is, you can get better at getting in the zone too!

When you can focus your attention on the action at hand, eventually your consciousness starts to get

the idea.

Each time you do, you build your experience of self-confidence and trust in yourself. All of that impacts the long-term way in which you think.

So what’s the second way that actions influence our thoughts?

Remember when I said your thoughts can become your reality? That’s true. While your thoughts can become your reality, it’s only through your actions that your thoughts actually become your life. Until then, they are only thoughts.

Sometimes our mind is like the equivalent of a funhouse mirror, distorting and contorting and blurring our lives and our potential.

Our minds often have an unrealistic perception of the world, peppered with interpretation, misunderstanding, automatic behaviors and opinions, and cultural and familial programming all laid on top of our lives like designs on a giant sheet of tracing paper while the more we strive to get our reality to match this design, the more we struggle.

The gap between how life is and how we think life is; is often the black hole in which we fruitlessly labor.

We think things are worse or better, harder or easier than they actually are from this cacophony of background noise and judgement.

Consider this: You just messed something important up. Immediately thoughts like “I’m so stupid” and “I always screw things up” randomly pop into your head.

All this means is that your reaction to one situation is out of sync with the whole. Just like when you whine (yes, you whine), about how “impossible” what you need to do is. Your brain starts to follow that line of thought all the way down the rabbit hole!

Fortunately, by accepting and including your thoughts as just a small part of the whole and getting down to taking actions, you’ll slowly start to realize just how out of touch you’ve been all along.

This method is actually similar to one used by psychiatrists giving therapy to their patients. That’s because it works. By challenging our thoughts with actions and exposing ourselves to the situations we resist, we train our brain to see the world more cognitively. We get accustomed to living life, “as is” rather than how we think it is!

The next time you’re feeling or experiencing any sort of negative or diminishing thought that disempowers you, move on immediately. Act independently of that thought. More specifically, act in a way that’s in your best interests rather than in a way that is dominated by how you automatically think and feel. Each time will be better than the last until your mind wakes up and realizes, “Hey, I can do this. I’m learning!” ACTION GREASES THE WHEEL OF LIFE

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy” - Dale Carnegie

I like what Dale says here. When we choose action instead of inaction, when we act beyond our automatic thoughts, something interesting happens: we start to forget about the things that are bothering us.

Simply put, when we act, we just don’t have time for anything else! It’s hard to focus on your internal worrying and naysaying when you’re busy getting things done. It’s all about momentum. Once you’ve started rolling, it’s easier to stay moving. That road that looked so long and intimidating before starts to blur as you speed across it.

But you’ve got to put your key in the ignition, crank ‘er up, and put it in drive first. The car isn’t going to start itself and then wait patiently for you in the driveway.

When you think about it, that’s basically what most of us do. We want to be driven. We think a more productive mood will chauffeur us through life, a confident mood will make things easier or more do-able. But if you want to get to where you’re going, you’ll have to take the wheel.

You have to buckle in and stomp hard on that gas pedal, whether you’re ready to or not.

Today, I want you to do something different than what you normally do. I want you to act in a way that’s independent of your typical negative or unproductive thoughts. Act on the moment and in line with what the item in front of your face demands of you. Fuck how you feel, ACT!

Don’t wait for the mood to strike. Don’t get stuck looking for that magic feeling that will do the work

for you.

Simply act. Put aside your thoughts and move.

It’s not about psyching yourself up. It’s not about getting everything aligned just right. Just act. Do it.

Not in a minute. Not after this show is over. Now.

Of course, your mind will always try to rationalize not acting. It’ll remind you of all the other things you could be doing. It’ll drudge up all your recent stresses and doubts.

But don’t act on your thoughts. Act on what’s in front of you.

Change your life by changing your actions. That’s the only way.

Still need more motivation? Think about the greatest people you know of—either personally or by reputation. Do you consider their thoughts? Or do you remember their actions?

Do you think Gandhi or Rosa Parks or Abraham Lincoln were never gripped by thoughts of doubt, fear or uncertainty? How about Nikola Tesla or Steve Jobs? Do you seriously think those people woke up every day in the perfect mood with “everything’s coming up roses”, playing in their heads? HELL NO! They were wracked by the same kind of shit you are, but they acted ANYWAY. They rolled up whatever was in their way, set it aside and strode out into the unknown. It wasn’t a passive endeavor. Their greatness didn’t just miraculously float out into the ether for us to consume. If they hadn’t taken action, we’d have never known what their passions were in the first place. We’d never have witnessed their greatness or wisdom.

They toiled, doubted and had sleepless nights, they worried and battled and ground it out until their lives and their work finally aligned.

I mean, come on, chances are you can think of plenty of people, past and present, who appeared to have “good thoughts” but never accomplished much.

That’s what we become when we’re more worried about how we think than what we do.

On the other hand, think of how many people with negative thoughts have gone on to become wildly successful.

All the legendary musicians with drug problems. All the pro athletes with anger management issues. The models with unhealthy body images. The millionaires with scarcity mindsets.

We could go on and on. The point is, positive thinking isn’t a predictor of accomplishment any more than negative thinking indicates failure. All of the people described above acted independently of their internal condition. You can too.

It’s all about action. Going out there, doing it and taking all your negative bullshit along for the ride. It’s never going to get any better, any easier or any more understandable. This is it, life is now and you’re never going to have a better moment than this.

Don’t know what to do or where to start? Good, that’s your first action. Find out, understand. Trawl the internet, read books, ask questions, take courses, seek advice, do whatever you need to do to unfuck yourself and get into your life.

Get up on your feet and get going.

“Action may not bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action”

  • Benjamin Disraeli

SEPARATING YOUR THOUGHTS FROM WHO YOU ARE

“I am not my thoughts; I am what I do”.

That’s your newest personal assertion, the phrase that sums it all up. Go ahead, try it out. “I am not my thoughts; I am what I do”.

You are not your thoughts. They’re just a bunch of random things running through your head. Much of them you have no control over.

Eventually we’d all like to have better, more positive thoughts. But sitting there isn’t going to make it happen.

It’s when we challenge our bodies and minds, when we experience, when we face our fears, when we accomplish – even when we fail – that we truly change who we are.

You could be the smartest person in the world, but that doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t take action.

Remember that the next time you’re not “feeling it”. When you’re not in the mood to go to work or take a significant step in life. When you’re doubting yourself too much to get started.

Forget all of it. Just take that first step. And the next one. And the next one.

You are not our thoughts. Act. You are what you do.

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