Our Thoughts and Words Create Change
I met a man recently, and in this article, I will call him John. John had a lot going on in his life, and most of it wasn’t good. He had a steady job, a girlfriend, and a lovely 7 month old girl, and those were the best things he had going for him. He was afraid that the girlfriend would be leaving him any day, taking their daughter with her. He fully expected this, and he was quite sad about it. At the same time, he felt that if that happened, he fully deserved it.
John told me “I’m a degenerate drunk.” He said it many times during our first 5 minute conversation.
I felt horrible hearing him say those words, and it wasn’t because he scared me or threatened me in any way. It was the simple thought of John holding this thought about himself and believing it to be true. What a painful way to view yourself, to think about yourself.
I’ve labeled myself many things over the years (mostly having to do with my excess weight), so I’m no stranger to putting myself down, but my heart went out to John. Not only did I feel bad for him, but I had a tremendous amount of hope that he would change.
Not hope that he could change — hope that he would change.
We can all change our lives. It’s built right into us, all of us. But I’ll get to that.
The reason that I had hope for John was one simple thing — he stepped forward and asked me for help. He desired change. He just had no idea how to go about it. He had no plan, no clue about how to begin.
I knew how to help him change. I couldn’t do the work for him, but I had helped dozens of people implement change in their lives, and I knew that I could help him figure out the steps on this journey.
I was on vacation when I met John. It was a family vacation (all adults), where there was much shopping, walking, and visiting of casinos.
Despite that, I made a commitment to this man. I made arrangements to meet him the next day, before he had to go to work, and we would talk. I thought that we would have one meeting, on one day, and that he’d lose his motivation to speak to me after one session. That happens quite often. I was so happy to be proven wrong.
John and I met for four sessions, about 15 to 30 minutes each. I was amazed that, despite the fact that he was sure that change was going to be long in coming, or maybe out of his reach entirely, he committed to meet me each day, and he was there, without fail. I have worked with many people who desired a change in their lives, and many of them were not willing to put in the work that this man did. He didn’t waver in his conviction that this was important, and that he needed this. So he showed up every day.
Day 1 covered a lot of ground, but the single most important concept we discussed that day, in my opinion, was the way he thought and spoke about himself.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, that our thoughts become things, or that our thoughts lead to our experiences, which I believe in wholeheartedly. But that’s not actually why I addressed this first with John.
I could not stop myself from addressing it. It was a thorn in my mind, that he spoke and thought so negatively about himself. I spoke to John very passionately about the idea that our thoughts become our reality, but the center of that concept is that what we think about ourselves becomes true. If he kept that thought in his mind, “I am a degenerate drunk,” it would continue to be true.
I told John that what he was experiencing that day, right there, was the truth that he had shaped for himself in the past.
What he thought that day that we spoke was the seed for what would be true for him in the future. If he wanted a different future, he would have to change his thoughts to include the possibility of change.
The second part of that premise is that what he said about himself was also programming that future.
The mind is a computer that we program through our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. Everything we believe about ourselves, every thought we think about ourselves, every word we say about ourselves, and every action we take are programmed right into what we become.
We sculpt our future self by thought, word, and deed.
John needed to begin with his thoughts. He was resistant. He didn’t want to stop saying that he was a mess, that he was a degenerate drunk. But he listened.
I asked him to just try it. Perform an experiment to test out the concept for himself. He considered it and decided that it was worth it. By the end of our session, John wasn’t putting himself down.
Our second session went well. It wasn’t until the end of that busy day full of activity that I relaxed and reviewed our session that, and it hit me — John hadn’t said one negative thing about himself during the entire session!
This was huge! It might not seem to be a big deal unless you’ve tried to help someone implement change in their lives. Most people say that they want to change, but they don’t usually act on suggestions that go against their image of themselves. I could tell when I met John that he’d been putting himself down like this for a long time.
John had considered what I said, and had found enough value in it to give it a try. For at least one session — the space of 30 minutes or so — he spoke as if sobriety was a possibility for him. He still didn’t see it happening anytime soon, but that was tremendous progress. Two days before, he hadn’t seen any hope at all of him becoming sober in his lifetime. You could hear it in the way he spoke about himself.
I don’t know what he said about himself for the rest of that day, but for the length of that session, he tried it out. He was much more willing to discuss possible change, although he retained the idea that it couldn’t happen quickly.
In the space of one day, John made a change that could impact his entire future. It could. We are creatures of free will, and he might choose to go back to the familiar ways of speaking about himself, of thinking about himself.
I was very excited when I spoke to John about it during our third session, and he was surprised by the passion with which I spoke about this one change. It was a small change, really. Easy to overlook.
But that one small change was the fulcrum, the point on which he could rest the lever of his will and move mountains. That one change, if it persists, if he continues to think thoughts of possibility for himself, can lead to a complete overhaul of his entire life.
The keywords above are IF and CAN. It is all up to him.
I’m so happy to say that during our second, third, and fourth sessions, John never again said any horrible things about himself while I was there. It was a promising beginning.
I was really sorry to leave my vacation, but not because of the lovely location, the shops, or the casinos. I had someone there who I really wanted to help, and to encourage along his path. I didn’t leave him with just words, but a plan for the changes he wants to implement in his life, a plan based on his goals and dreams for his future.
For you, my reader, I want to impress upon you that the desire for change, for an improvement, to better ourselves or our lives is within all of us. There is almost always something that we want to improve about our experience. If this is the case with you, start with these two steps:
Step 1. Begin with your thoughts. Believe that you are a person that can make that change happen. Believe that you are worthy of having that change in your life. Delete or destroy any thoughts that contradict this. Drop them through a mental shredder. Use them as compost. Destroy them however you like. Just don’t allow them to take up space in your head and your thoughts anymore.
Step 2. Monitor your words. Anytime you hear yourself say something that is putting yourself down, stop it and correct yourself. If you are changing yourself to bring in financial abundance, avoid saying that you’re out of money. If you want to stop smoking, stop talking about yourself as if you’re a walking chimney.
Step 3. If you say something negative about your goal or your ability to complete it, go back to Step 1, find the thought or belief behind what you said, and destroy it.
Step 2 will show you all the thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that you might have missed in Step 1. You will miss a lot. That’s all right. You can always come back and root out more.
Our minds are like computers, and our thoughts and beliefs are like malware. The strangest thing about this mental computer is that the things we program it with show up 3D in our daily lives as obstacles, problems, and circumstances. They can also show up as happiness, good fortune, and financial freedom. It all depends upon what mental malware or apps we program ourselves with.
Are we broke? We programmed ourselves with a Financial Hardship or Poverty app.
Are we alone? We planted the malware of not deserving love, or we tell ourselves we drive away anyone who might love us, or we believe we aren’t worthy of real love. This malware functions to interfere with any romance that shows up in our lives.
Are we living in messy surroundings? We programmed a Procrastination app, or a Do It Later app, or a That’s Good Enuf app. These mental apps show up in our lives as a 3D mess.
And so on.
There is a lot of this thought malware that came from the people who shaped our childhoods. Parents, friends, siblings, extended family, guardians, foster parents, teachers — any or all of them may have given us little malware or bad apps that they had in abundance themselves. They may have shared these intentionally, thinking they would help us somehow, or maybe even unintentionally, not realizing that we learned from watching them.
Sometimes, it wasn’t what someone shared, but what we learned from watching the grown-ups around us. The wisdom of children is an amazing thing. Sometimes kids see straight to the heart of a matter. But sometimes, they don’t have all the facts, and they misinterpret what they see. So they come up with a new malware thought, one that nobody has seen before and they program it into their life.
However it may happen, the thoughts and beliefs programmed in our minds (our subconscious minds) grow into the circumstances of our lives. What we see all around us, in front of us, affecting our days and our lives, that is our personal life program. Maybe even our operating system. We have programmed most of it ourselves. We have to clear out the bad bits ourselves, too.
When my teenaged son is rude to me, it is partly his fault. But it is also mine. The decisions I’ve made along the way, the choices I refused to make, and the thoughts I think about myself and my parenting skills — all of these work together to create my life, my day to day experience.
My client John is not the only one that has thoughts that need to change. I do, too. We all do (or 99.999% of us).
If your life isn’t the way you want it to be, you have thoughts and beliefs that you need to weed out. If your life isn’t amazing and wonderful, you can make it better. Even if it is all going well, there could be something you’d like to improve.
Changing the thoughts you think and the things you say about yourself isn’t the only change you must make to improve your life, but it is the fulcrum. It is the beginning.
First change the thoughts. Then change your words. After that, everything becomes possible.
After that, it is persistence.
All the malware will come up as obstacles in your path, and you may be tempted to think or say “See? This proves that I’m not worthy. This proves that I can’t do it.” But that isn’t true.
The only thing that obstacles prove is that there is malware that you missed, and still need to find and delete. Those little buggers are sometimes and it’s hard to get them all.
Every time you encounter an obstacle, think only “Time to find another bad thought or belief.” There will be many of them. And just when you think that there are an endless supply, you’ll be done with that task.
Don’t give up because of obstacles. Just see them as a chance to make your clean out your mental computer. The malware just identified itself and now you can get down to business.
This sort of Personal Programming is tedious, but rewarding.
Don’t give up!