Freeze! Now Exactly What Are You Thinking?
It happened again! Even though I thought I had it under control I ended up just as annoyed with someone; same old problem and same old reaction from me. Very frustrating! It also dawned on me that if I didn’t make a change—primarily in how I was thinking—I would keep repeating this same scenario with this same person all through 2017. Talk about a waste of time!
We all know it’s not what happens to us, it’s what we choose to do about it. So I realized for me to elicit change I had to first pay attention to what I’m thinking and then change how I’m thinking and feeling--what I’m telling myself about the situation—if I’m going to create a different outcome.
And one of the best ways to teach ourselves to pay attention and become more mindful about what we’re thinking comes from a kids’ game called Freeze. When I played it a classmate would call “freeze” and every kid became a statue, looking around at all the other silly kids in silly postures. These days there are freeze dances, when the music stops you stay frozen in your last move. Here’s the point, if we can remind ourselves to freeze—stop periodically and check in on what we’re thinking—it’s highly advantageous in keeping ourselves on track.
If we don’t have control over what we’re thinking at any given time then we’re often stuck in a never-ending repetitive loop. It’s been said we think 60,000 thoughts a day and 90% are repeats. We replay a problem person/situation over and over and wonder why we’re not progressing.
Often in the programs I teach I designate a person who will call out “freeze” every so often and at that moment everyone must look at their body language, i.e. sitting forward, arms crossed, leaning back and ask themselves two questions: what are they thinking and what should they be thinking. It’s usually about 50/50. Fifty percent of the time folks are listening to what is being said and are actively engaged. And about fifty percent of the time their brains are all over the place. Recent responses included looking at a strange red beam on the ceiling they never realized was there, hoping the break was soon, thinking about someone they were annoyed with, and a myriad of things that had nothing to do with the class. So by continually calling attention to what we are thinking we can reshape our thoughts to keep them specifically where we want them to be.
A great way to stay tuned in to your thoughts is to program your phone to vibrate every couple of hours and when it does ask yourself what you’re thinking and what should you be thinking. The more we keep focused on what we want instead of getting sidetracked by stray thoughts, the quicker we will see the results. When we regroup to ensure we’re thinking what we want, we get to change the storyline, focus on the results we know we can achieve.
Does just knowing what we’re thinking solve every problem? Of course not. However staying aware of where our minds may be wandering and any habitual thinking that is taking us down the wrong path is a great start.
Ultimately we have the ability to rewire our brains and reprogram our thoughts to achieve anything and overcome any hurdle. We literally can redesign any type of faulty thinking that is not contributing to our goals and successes, but we have to recognize the faulty thinking first in order to change it, and here is where making the freeze game a daily habit can be useful.
To be more mindful of your thoughts in order to create changes in 2017 (and for all years to come) think of following this simple formula:
- Program your phone to alarm/vibrate a few times each day, and each time you are alerted to “freeze” pay attention to what you’re thinking and gently focus on what you want to be thinking.
- Write down what you were thinking and what you wanted to be thinking about in that moment. Tell yourself what you want the outcome to be.
- Realize the importance of feeling and seeing it as if you’ve already achieved your outcome. Stephen Covey reminded us years ago that we need to begin with the end in mind (staying focused on what we want). And when we add a feeling of having succeeded (according to neurologist Wendy Suzuki) and see it (says Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps) then we have a powerful combination.
- Measure your successes! Remember the SOS’s, the series of small successes. Anytime we’re moving forward we’re definitely on the right track.
Have a great holiday and remember we can create any kind of change in 2017 by paying attention to what we’re thinking! It’s fun, it’s easy and it absolutely works. Until next time remember what author C.S. Lewis said: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”