We all know a little kindness goes a long way. Given that what you focus on is what you find, how do you manage when you’re in a mind space that doesn’t lend itself to kindness? How do you get to change your thoughts? By being N.I.C.E.
We all have the choice to become mindful of our thoughts. That means being aware of the thoughts running through our brains. Given we have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts every day that makes thought work a big job and extremely overwhelming. My recommended starting point is to look at your feelings. It may be mad/sad/glad or scared. That’s a good starting place, because behind every feeling is a thought.
Notice: “What do I think about that?” If you’re not sure try “How do I feel about that?” I know I feel (insert a feeling) about (insert an event) and from there I can work out what am I thinking that makes me feel like this. It may be that you had to have a beloved pet put down. You may be feeling sad, and the thought behind that feeling of sadness is that you will miss your pet so much. However, if your pet was old and sick while there may be sadness and the thought of missing your pet there may also be the thought that your pet was in pain and it was the kindest thing you could do for him/her.
Interesting: be open minded. This is a judgement free zone. You’re human. You’ll have thoughts. You don’t necessarily have to like them. From the example above, it’s unlikely that you are simply sad about the loss of your pet. There are probably a myriad of feelings and thoughts running through your mind and your body and it can be useful to capture a number of them. Aim to notice your top five.
Curious: bring a spirit of detective like curiosity to that thought. Why, exactly, do I think that? The thought may be trying to get you to notice something. Perhaps the loss of your pet as an adult brings up unresolved grief issues from a childhood loss. Something you may have buried deeply within yourself, almost forgotten as it patiently waits to be acknowledged.
Explain: to yourself, your partner, a trusted friend or a coach. Dig deep as you look for an answer. If you’re stumped jot it down then come back to it later. Maybe you don’t like the answer you’re getting. Fantastic. There might be an excellent reason which is going to invite space for an enormous amount of personal growth.
The more aware we are of our thoughts the more chances we have to respond, not react. When we can respond to others we are able to be more intentional. Our response can arrive from a place of love and kindness.
It's highly unlikely that thinking about our thinking was taught to us at school, and we may not have been lucky enough to have had it modelled to us by our parents either. It takes time to uncover and unravel our thought processes. To see your thoughts right there in front of you is a gift, because once you know what they are you can choose to keep them; or to acknowledge them before you let them go.
We don’t want to get caught up on every little thing we think or feel. We want the ability to notice and choose the ones we want to keep.
It all begins with our thoughts; they’re like a box of chocolates. We can choose the one we want to think.
If we don’t like the one we get, pick again.