Hey Rebels! Welcome to the Podcast!
In today's episode, I want to talk to you about managing your mind. In the last podcast, I talked a lot about your thoughts, particularly the thought of "I don't know" and how that can generate a feeling of fear that can keep you from taking action and achieving your goals or getting the career you want. So if you missed it, go back and check it out because I shared a lot of great information.
I've said before that I believe career development and management is an inner and outer game. What most career coaches and traditional vocation career advice get wrong is that they focus too much on the outer game, the tactics, strategies, skill development, etc., and they don't give nearly enough time or attention to the inner game, which is your mindset and thought work. While the tactics are helpful, it's the inner game that makes it all possible.
Since I'll be talking a lot about this throughout this podcast, I believe it's important that you're clear on what I mean when I use certain terms, ideas, and concepts and that you have an understanding of my practical and theoretical framework. That's the social scientist in me. As a researcher, we had to make the lens through which we did our work very clear to the reader. In my coaching practice, I use a mix of cognitive-behavioral theory and Jungian and social psychology, and a little Feng shui within the context of structural inequity. When I taught graduate and doctoral students, I always told them, don't read or listen to other people's work without knowing their epistemology or what framed their beliefs. That's why I think it's important for you to know my various schools of thought if you're going to be a frequent listener of this podcast. So, with that said, let's get into how your mind, and your thoughts, in particular, can create what you want in your life and career.
Let's start with the difference between factual events that happen outside of you and your thoughts about those events. Events, people, our past are circumstances that are out of our control. They're simply facts, not opinions, but things that everyone can agree on or that can be proven in a court of law. Events, people, and circumstances that happen in the world don't drive your feelings or actions. It's your thoughts, however, ABOUT those events, people, or circumstances that do cause your feelings and actions. What you think about the circumstances around you is often the byproduct of childhood stories, narratives, beliefs, and societal and cultural ones that you've adapted and programmed your brain to accept as the truth. While you can ALWAYS change your thinking, you can't change the events, people, past, and circumstances, no matter how much you want to. Our instinct, however, is to try to change these things with our actions, but that never works. We only have control over ourselves and our thoughts.
Now, we sometimes think our thoughts and subsequent feelings are out of our control. That it's the outside things or someone's comments or actions that caused you to think or feel a certain way, but that's not true — and often a hard pill for people to accept. That's because we live in a society steeped in blame and victimization and not a lot of personal empowerment and accountability. I mean, catch any episode of any of the Real Housewives programs, and it's pretty easy to see that. But the hard truth is you're in control of your thoughts and feelings, no one else, no matter what they say or do.
Stay with me on this.
We've never been taught to manage our minds. Now, as women, we've been taught to manage our actions, we've been taught to be sweet, not be too aggressive, don't toot your own horn, and always be polite and gracious, for example. Remember, sugar and spice and everything nice? But we've not been taught to understand and manage our minds. But once you do have an awareness, you also have a responsibility and accountability to yourself. Ignoring it only causes you to deny your power and ability to change and get the life and career you want.
And let me say a word about positive thinking and affirmations. I personally love them both, but in and of themselves, it's not enough; it will only get you so so far, particularly if you think you're at the mercy of others' actions and things going on around you at home or at work. And let me say not every thought needs to be positive for you to achieve what you want. Sometimes a non-negative neutral thought can do the trick. However, when we try to force ourselves only to think positively all the time, we won't be sufficiently prepared to handle or withstand the negative things in life that come our way.
In theory, these concepts make sense and seem simple, but I tell my clients that mastering them takes time, commitment, work, and daily practice. But, it's completely doable and frankly can completely transform your life when we can incorporate them into your life.
Let me share a few examples to show how it all works.
Say It's 85 degrees outside. That's a fact; it's a circumstance.
When you read the temperature, you think, "It's too hot outside." But that doesn't make it true; it's just your thought about the temperature. Someone else can read the same temperature and think, "Wow, this is perfect weather." This sounds like a conversation between my husband and me.
Now, If you think it's too hot, you'll most likely feel "uncomfortable." And because you're feeling uncomfortable, you'll choose not to go outside.
But If someone else thinks it's perfect weather, they may feel "excited," and from that feeling, choose to go out and enjoy the weather.
Can you see how it's not the fact that it's 85 degrees outside that made you decide to stay in the house, but it was your thought about the temperature (it's too hot) that drove how you felt (uncomfortable)? Because of that feeling of discomfort, you took or avoided specific actions (stayed inside)?
This is how we get into arguments. We'll tell the other person that 85 degrees is hot and then angry or frustrated when they disagree. But the truth is that's just YOUR thought about 85 degrees, and others are entitled to their thought as well.
Here's another example:
You've applied and interviewed for an internal director-level position but didn't get it. Again these are just facts.
You could think, "It's not fair." "I knew they wouldn't hire me." "This proves I don't have what it takes."
How do you think that would make you feel? Angry, frustrated? De-valued? Apathetic? Unworthy?
And say you're feeling angry or frustrated, what actions would you take? Maybe you choose to confront the hiring manager accusing them of passing you over when you know you're qualified. Or you may become passive-aggressive and start underperforming in your current role because you don't feel undervalued. Or you could quit because, after all, why should you work for a company that will treat you like this. Or you can beat yourself up and tell yourself that you have nothing to offer and you'll never land a director role which can cause you to play small and not apply for any other jobs or promotions.
Now another option is you could think, "I know I'm qualified, but I wonder how I can improve my chances for next time."
How would that make you feel? Calm, curious, determined?
If you're feeling curious, you could seek out the hiring manager and get their feedback on the process, understand precisely why you weren't chosen and what you can do to improve your chances next time. You could hire a coach to help improve your interview skills. Or you may ask yourself some deeper important questions and ultimately discover that wasn't the right role for you after all and begin to turn your attention toward a position that suits you better.
There are several ways you could handle the situation because you have a choice; YOU HAVE CONTROL over what you decide to think about what happened. And because you have control over your thoughts, you ultimately have control over the outcome.
I know a lot is going on right now in the workplace and in your life that you're trying to deal with and manage. Still, to get into the driver's seat and truly take control of your career, you have to become a better steward of your thoughts and your mind, particularly when you're in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. On average, we have about 70,000 thoughts per day, and studies have found the bulk of our thoughts are negative and repetitive. Meaning we play the same tapes repeatedly, and they're not necessary our greatest hits. And since 95% of this happens in the unconscious mind, we have to stop completely operating on autopilot and start paying attention to what's happening in our brains.
Let me share with you four steps you can start today.
First: start noticing what you're thinking. Pay attention to what's going on in your mind at meetings, when you're reading emails, speaking to colleagues, or giving a presentation. Without an awareness of what you're thinking, you won't learn how to capture every thought and make a change.
Second: notice how your thoughts are creating your feelings, and ultimately your actions. We all tend to operate out of our emotions. If we're angry, we yell; if we're sad, we cry; if we're impatient, we may snap at those closest to us. But remember, your feelings start with a thought about what's going on. The connection between what you're thinking and how you feel is often bypassed because we want to blame the circumstance instead of taking responsibility for our thinking. Don't jump from my name was not on the invite for our strategic meeting to feeling rejected or left out. Go back one step and ask yourself, "why do I feel rejected or left out?" And the thought that's causing you to feel this way will be revealed.
Third: with this deeper level of awareness, you can start shifting your thinking. This isn't about just replacing one thought for another because that doesn't work. Your brains are too smart for that. Instead, it means sitting down, writing out your thoughts, examining them, asking questions, and then determining which thought would serve you better. Spend some time examining what's going on in your brain. Then decide which new thought will shift your feelings in such a way that you'll take actions that will get you closer to what you want.
As I said before, this takes commitment and practice. Remember, many of your thoughts have been programmed in your brain for decades, and because our brain likes repetition (it's easier to remember), you'll find that you'll want to go back to your default thoughts and programming. While awareness is key to breaking the cycle, practicing these new skills will help you reprogram your brain to get better results.
Finally: this is a no-judgment zone. Because we live in a binary society, we love to classify things as good or bad, right or wrong. Don't do that with your thoughts. Don't judge your thoughts as good or bad; they're just thoughts. Some are useful, and some are not, and you can determine that based on the results you're getting in your career and life. Women in particularly love to beat themselves up and feel guilty for things. If you didn't speak up in a team meeting because you thought no one would listen. Don't spend the rest of the day kicking yourself because that thought led you to stay quiet. Learn from it and choose a different thought in the future to get a different result. As you learn to manage your mind, remember it's a no-judgment zone. Without judgment, you'll be in a much better position to examine and exchange any unuseful thoughts you're having for useful ones.
Listen, I know the outer game tactics and strategies are easier to learn and implement, and there's a time and place for them. However, if you want to control your career and have the life you desire and deserve, you must learn to manage your mind and understand the inner game.
What you think about, you bring about.
…..Alight Rebels, that's what I have for you this week. Be sure to rate, comment, and subscribe to this podcast so we can continue to get the word out, and if you have questions, I'd love to hear from you! Send them to [email protected], and I may even answer them on a future podcast. Thanks for listening, and until next time, have an amazingly rebellious week.