Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In last week's Journal, I told you the #1 thing I did to change my entire reality and go from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In short, I became aware of the thoughts that were directing my life and learned how to direct them to what I want. If that sounds really esoteric or "woo woo" to you, it really just boils down to living super intentionally and I encourage you to read the entire journal entry here. It takes a lot of practice (ok, TONS of practice) to live this way, as 99% of us were never taught how to do this and grew up with very different mental programming. Programming that focuses more on what's lacking from our lives than what's abundant, on what can go wrong instead of right, on our weaknesses rather than strengths. Sound like you? This sounded a lot like me until just a few years ago. In this journal entry, I'm going to try to convey to the best of my ability how I got myself out of the mental rut I found myself in when I was a lawyer and how I created a new reality for myself. This is really mainstream stuff at this point, so while I'll convey what worked for me, know that there are hundreds of authors writing and speaking about this topic these days and you can and will find one who resonates with you.
One last thing. This is something you need to learn how to do, which necessarily means you're going to need to study it and practice it. And oh will the universe/God* send you tests to quiz you on what you've learned! (*I use these terms interchangeably depending on whether or not you have a religious practice). We also have a tendency in this day and age to want immediate results or else we claim it doesn't work. That attitude is going to stop you before you even start. For me, it took about 18 months to really see major shifts (smaller shifts came more quickly). You know how yoga teachers always refer to yoga as a practice? What I'm sharing with you today is also a practice. It's something you need to choose to do day by day, even minute by minute. And just like yoga class, you get better the more you go. While you won't be able to do a headstand on day 2, with practice you'll get better and better at it. And again, just like yoga, you'll continue your practice over a lifetime. You never "graduate" but rather you realize with each new level you reach, there's different things to learn and new areas of your life to apply it to. Maybe you'll first apply it to your career, but in a couple of years you'll start applying it to your romantic and familial relationships. It's more of a pathway and a journey than a final destination. Whew, ok, after that long introduction here is the general pathway that unfolded for me.
1. Become aware of your thoughts
If you're not aware of them, you can't change them. If you're running like a crazy person through life full of too many demands and weeks that leave you on "E" with no gas in the tank, chances are you aren't even aware of your thoughts on a deep level (this was me). Instead, your mind is an endless stream of thought after thought, some of which are anxious, and you're constantly focusing on what needs to get accomplished due to the demands on your life. So the first thing to do is simply observe your thoughts. Try this: when you're sitting in the car, or on a train or plane for work this week, take a 2 to 3 minutes each morning to observe what's going on up there. What thoughts are swirling around? Do those thoughts tend to be anxious, hopeful, meaningless, silly, positive, harsh, judgmental? Just watch and generally take an inventory of what's going on. If you have time, write down a few of them in your notes app on your phone. At the end of the week, notice if there are any repetitive patterns or themes. There are probably going to be a few negative themes. This would include thoughts that are filled with self-doubt (ex: I can't believe I messed this up again, I'll never be able to do this correctly), self-deprecating (ex: I'm not smart enough to run my own business), angry (ex: this stupid client hasn't even replied to my email, what nerve!), and judgmental thoughts (example: why did she just post that picture on Instagram - her product looks awful in that lighting!).
2. You versus your thoughts
If you did step #1, did you feel like an outsider in your own mind? Or at least an observer? You probably noticed that there was YOU and then there were the THOUGHTS (I'm going to continue to capitalize these for ease of reference). By deduction, this means YOU are not your THOUGHTS. YOU may have even felt that YOU had no say in what THOUGHTS were popping up. They just flooded in and covered an array of topics. Can you see the division? This is really important to understand because it sets you up for step 3.
I think the most influential author on this topic is Eckhart Tolle. He wrote the book The Power of Now which is written in question and answer format. He also wrote a second book called A New Earth and I highly recommend them both. Oprah is a big fan of Eckhart and has done a lot of interviews with him. Sometimes this is easier than committing to a book - check them out on YouTube and on her podcast Super Soul Conversations.
3. YOU are more powerful than the THOUGHTS
When you realize you aren't your thoughts, this can be a little confusing. Like, wait, there are two of me? One producing the thoughts and one observing them? Which one is me? Yes, that's exactly right. Some authors will refer to the producer of the thoughts in your head as "ego" and to the person observing them as "spirit" or "soul." It doesn't matter which terms you use, as long as you understand that (a) YOU are not your THOUGHTS and (b) YOU are far greater than the THOUGHTS you have. In other words, spirit is more powerful than ego (if you choose to use those terms).
Same goes here - Eckhart Tolle is probably the most influential writer in this space so I'd check him out if you're struggling with understanding points #2 and #3.
4. YOU can control your THOUGHTS
If YOU are more powerful than your THOUGHTS, this means you can control your thoughts. For all you perfectionists out there (I'm a recovering one), you have full permission to control here. In fact, I'd argue that this is truly the one and only thing we have full power to control in this lifetime. Say it over and over again - "I can control my thoughts. I have power over my thoughts." Claim this, own it, repeat it, set it as an alarm reminder on your phone. Every time there's a negative thought, call it out! It can become a game you play - like "hey I see you negative thought!" Don't worry about making your thoughts more positive yet. For now, do all you can to feel powerful, in charge, and confident about your ability to control your thoughts. Feel it in your bones!
At this point, you might start to ask yourself, how in the world are we not taking care of our minds like we are our bodies? How are we not taught this? I just love the analogy to working out. A lot of us place working out high on the priority list for the week, but we do absolutely nothing about our minds. And our minds are far more powerful than our bodies. What goes on in our minds all day long literally creates our reality. I think this is part of the mental health conversation. In any case, be thankful that you are willing, interested, and able to become in charge of your thoughts.
5. Change the thought
Once you fully commit to your power over your thoughts, you can start to change the thoughts. Remember this though: if you're like the majority of the population, negative thoughts bombard you all day long, so recognize this is a moment-by-moment choice. It is not easy, and you don't need to do this perfectly. It's a practice. Right now, you just want to build up your muscles. Eventually, you will naturally think more positively and dispose of the negative thoughts. But right now, it's going to be a struggle and that is completely normal. Liken it to working out - the first time you get in the gym is awful, but by month two you're in the routine and starting to feel pretty good. It takes a ton of practice, but stick with it.
This is how I like to change the thought:
(1) a negative thought creeps in my head;
(2) I call it out; and then I either
(3) flip it around (example: if the thought was "I feel like I never have enough money to pay my bills", I say to myself, "I always seem to come up with the money I need to pay my bills on time. Thank you universe for the abundance you show me!")
(4) I say a little prayer to myself, "I surrender this thought to the universe/God. Please take it from me." When the negative thought is a tough one - you know, one that really stings or stabs you in the heart, I tend to use the prayer method because it's more effective for me. Say this prayer as many times as you need. Eventually, you'll feel strong enough to flip it around and make it positive.
6. Enough changed thoughts add up to a belief
Last but not least, it's not enough to change the thought to a positive one. You need to believe the more positive thought. You need to believe the universe/God is taking your negative thought from you, or you need to believe how you re-framed it into a positive. For example, in the paying bills example, it's not enough to say "thank you for the abundance you show me." You truly need to believe in that abundance and feel grateful for it. The universe/God can tell when you're faking it! This is the most challenging step for sure, but know that the more times you call out the repetitive thought that is holding you back and replace it with a positive one or pray for help to take it away, eventually you're going to start to believe it.
For me, the most persistent thought that was holding me back was, "I can't make enough money doing something I love. I can either do something I'm passionate about and struggle to pay bills, or I can do something I don't like and be financially secure. The two are mutually exclusive." I started to call out this thought, then I would say, "I can earn more money having a jewelry business than I ever did as a lawyer." And I eventually started to believe it (it took a few months). I hope you'll start to feel the same way about your business idea. It is possible.
Of course there were 100s of other things I did on the journey from lawyer to business owner and I hope to share them all over the course of this Journal. But by far, the most crucial thing I did was stop being such a negative thinker. It held me back in so many ways. It kept me stuck. It made me feel helpless at times. And worst of all, at one point in my life, I wasn't even aware that I had so many negative thoughts. So, cheers to becoming more aware this week! That is certainly the most difficult part.