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February 23, 2021

Thoughts becoming things

Thoughts becoming things

I wrote my carer impact statement for my daughter’s application to access funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme last night, and in it I was detailing the challenges of managing her emotional dysregulation and school refusal. As I was channelling the hardest days to capture the full extent of her challenges, I was feeling lucky we were having a fairly smooth start to the school year.

What a difference 12 hours makes. This morning she was in the foetal position at the door refusing to the leave the house. As my business manager said, manifestation can be a bitch.

This goes to the heart of the Marissa Peer talk I mentioned in my last blog post titled The rules of the mind. Now, I’m not a devotee to the concept of manifestation. I don’t believe you can bring anything into your life by belief alone. But I do believe we can relieve suffering, anxiety and fear by changing the stories we tell ourselves. After all, this is the basis of the tried and tested practice of cognitive behavioural therapy.

Here are the key points I took away from Marissa’s talk.

You get what you expect. Marissa explains that everything you think and say tells the brain the blueprint to follow. Or as my ex-husband loved to tell me: thoughts become things.

If you say to yourself: I can’t do that presentation / have that conversation / go for that job / do that job, then that’s what your brain will manifest. But if we plan for and visualise what will go well, we’re coding our brain for that outcome.

For me, when my brain starts catastrophising about Mala’s future prospects, I’ve trained myself to double down on the resilience and persistence her disability is creating. And I tell her the same too. I revel in how loveable she is and tell her as often as I can remember – you are enough! I also get her to say it back to me. She thinks I’m a bit nuts when I do that.

Your mind does what it thinks you want it to do. If you tell yourself you don’t want to do something, you’ll suck at it and hate the experience. You always have a choice but your mind’s job is to give you what you think you want. So you need to tell your mind what you want. In detail.

When I’m anticipating a difficult morning with Mala, I visualise staying calm and firm. It doesn’t always work but geez it helps.

We undermine our self-confidence by what we tell ourselves. What are you currently telling yourself? Now re-write it using affirming language.

The brain wants familiarity to feel safe. That means it needs to hear affirming language over and over again. You can make anything negative unfamiliar by flooding your mind with positive thoughts and self-praise.

This can feel really odd for people who are uncomfortable with positive recognition. But if you praise yourself every day, multiple times a day, it will start to stick. And your confidence and self-esteem will improve dramatically. I call this mental masturbation. When I’m feeling anxious, especially when I’m falling to sleep, I think about all the great things in my life.

What are the worst words you say about yourself or your life? Now re-write it.

Your mind moves you from pain to pleasure. By linking pleasure to the things you don’t want to do, you will become drawn to it. Phrases like: “I’m so excited to be working on my ..., there’s nothing better than..., it brings me such joy and pleasure to be doing....” will train your mind to enjoy the jobs or activities you need to do but don’t like doing. Your mind fills you with energy for the task at hand, drawing you to it.

What do you need to lean into that you’re currently resisting? What language and images fill your mind when you think about it? Flood the mind with images and stories that paint a positive outcome and see what things come from these thoughts. Let me know how you go.

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