We think we have no control over how we think and feel. Something bad happens, we feel bad. Something good happens, we feel good.
When your husband got cancer, I’m sure a whole host of thoughts and feelings came up. Most of those were probably negative.
I don’t want to go through this again!
It’s too much!
I just want to be like everyone else.
I hate seeing him suffer.
All of those sentences above are simply thoughts. Thoughts are what we have about the circumstances in our life. In the last several weeks I’ve talked about the relationship between the things that happen in our life and our thoughts about them. Our thoughts cause our feelings, which drive our actions and give us our results.
circumstance – leads to thought > causes a feeling > drives an action = creates a result
Your husband getting cancer is the circumstance. What you think about that is your thought.
Why Do I Care About My Thoughts?
All our thoughts are optional. Seriously, you can choose to think your husband getting cancer sucks, or you can choose to think something else.
You may not want to believe me here because so many of your thoughts are probably just happening with out your conscious choice or even awareness. This is called thinking on default. We have thoughts we had for so long, they get ingrained in our brain and occur so naturally and quickly we aren’t even aware. I like to think of it like a rut in a road. You’ve traveled down that path so many times it creates a rut and your thinking becomes habitual.
What we think however, is what we will notice in the world. The more often I think cancer sucks, the more evidence I will find of that in my life. Which will reinforce my thought. It’s a viscous cycle. Just like when you’re thinking of buying a new car, you start seeing that car EVERYWHERE. This is how our brain works. We focus on and notice what we are thinking about.
So, What To Do?
The first and most important part is to understand the relationship between circumstances and your thoughts. Circumstances just happen and then you get to choose how you want to think about them. It is not the doctor visits, the chemotherapy, the insurance company that is making you feel crappy. It is your thoughts about all of those things.
Our thoughts are our choice. However, when we’ve been thinking something for so long, it is very difficult to stop thinking that thing. Remember, your brain is in a rut. You will have to practice new thoughts. First, simply being aware of your thoughts is powerful and enlightening.
Notice Your Thoughts
I want you to start taking notice of your thoughts. An easy way to do this is when you have a strong feeling – either good or bad. What are you thinking in that moment that caused the emotion?
Be curious and compassionate with yourself. If you find you have A LOT of negative thoughts, that is OK. Judging ourselves for thinking bad thoughts only leads to more bad thoughts. Compassion is very important part of this process.
I have talked a lot about thoughts in previous posts. To read more, see:
Next I will discuss how our thoughts cause our emotions.