“How can we stop the negative, unwanted thoughts from entering our heads?
We can’t. They come too fast and if you try, you will soon find you are on a fool’s mission. What you can do, however, is realise that your own thoughts have no power of their own, only that which you give them. However, if you can see that they are only thoughts and you refuse to put life into them they are harmless” Sydney Banks
We often get asked to help organisations build a culture of resilience when they’re facing big changes or challenges. One of the initial things we ask them is to spend 20 seconds thinking nothing. You can see the effort and focus on their faces as they try hard, really hard.
At the end of the 20 seconds we ask them to raise their hand if they succeeded in being able to stop thinking. Often someone cautiously raises their hand, taking a quick peak left and right to see if anyone else is going to join them.
Without fail, after a series of questions which gently prompt the person to share their experience, they realise that they too were thinking. Whether it was thinking about a technique to help them stop thinking, thinking don’t think, or something else it is clear thinking was involved.
We then often ask the group to spend 20 seconds thinking about one specific thought. So not a category or theme, but one very specific thought.
Again, at the end of this time we ask for a raise of hands from those who were able to control their thinking. This time we often have no hands raised and a lot of curious faces.
For many of us, experiencing first hand that we can’t turn thought off is interesting. But when you add in not being able to control thought, well that goes against everything we believed to be true.
Aren’t we meant to think positively? Aren’t we meant to reframe our thinking? Change our thinking? Think less? Isn’t there a lot to do to fix our thinking?
Now I’m not saying those approaches don’t have a role to play at times, yet I’m not still thinking the same thing I was thinking when I was three, or even what I was thinking yesterday. My thinking has moved on and continues to do so.
What if the fact that our thinking changes is a really useful part of our design?
Every thought is temporary which means we can never get stuck without any idea of what to do when challenges come our way because we always have access to new thought. With new thought comes a never-ending supply of new ideas, new possibilities and new potential.
This ability to have new thought shows us how resilient we are. It is our ability to bounce back as it offers us with new perspectives and ideas which drives our action.
This is the true source of our resilience and when we see it, we can leverage it no matter what comes our way. Yet when we aren’t aware of it, we often get lost in our thinking churning around the same thoughts time and again assuming they are all we have.
Start your team’s journey of self-discovery with Wellineux today.