Last week, I talked about how overwhelm is optional–and that opportunity can be found even when circumstances seem most uncertain. This week I’m diving into a simple tool you can use to move from overwhelm to clarity.
Most of us weren’t taught how to manage our thoughts or emotions–as a result, we’re either unaware of our thoughts or think our thoughts are facts. I’m challenging you to turn off autopilot and re-wire your neural pathways so that your thoughts work FOR you, instead of against you.
The number one tool I teach entrepreneurs dealing with overwhelm is how to become the “Watcher.” The Watcher is you, observing your mind as it thinks, giving you the awareness of your thoughts so that you have the power to change them. You can’t fix what you don’t notice.
Let’s investigate the nature of the mind for a moment. Have you ever told yourself to stop thinking a thought? “Stop thinking the client isn’t going to sign the contract.” Or maybe “Stop thinking about work, you’re supposed to be present with your family now.”
We also ask ourselves questions all the time. “Why am I in this situation?” or “What am I doing wrong?” We don’t notice it because we think it’s completely normal but consider what this means: there must be two of “us” in our minds.
Really think about this for a minute. You are inside your own mind asking yourself a question. One version of you is asking another version of you a question. The first version is the Watcher—this is consciousness. It’s the one noticing and asking. The other version is being watched. It’s the one listening and answering.
Once you know about the Watcher you can decide to take an objective look at the thoughts you think and even the questions you ask yourself. Because when you are the Watcher, you realize that your thinking is not who you are; thoughts are separate from you. You can observe them, question them, and dismantle them.
Here’s how you use the Watcher as a tool: each day for 10 minutes, simply observe your thoughts. When you do this mindfulness exercise you’ll be amazed at the thoughts you are thinking. Especially how many are negative, critical, and repetitive from day to day.
When you are the watcher of your thoughts, you choose whether you want to keep thoughts that appear or create new ones. The best way to decide is by noticing how your thoughts make you feel.
You never feel good when your thoughts are negative and especially when you’re beating yourself up, but most of us do it automatically. We think when we make a mistake (or someone else does) we should be critical so we improve. But what really happens is our self-esteem takes a hit.
After listening to lots of negative and judgmental thoughts in your mind (about yourself, others, and even the world), you will not feel capable. You won’t show up fully focused, committed and energized to be the leader of your businesses. How are you supposed to get the business back on track when you feel inadequate? The solution is to take control of your mind and start by using the Watcher to notice your automatic thoughts. I recommend writing your thoughts down on paper because when they are in black and white outside of your mind, you can see them objectively. This is a daily practice for me, something called “thought downloads.” Commit to writing thought downloads every day for a week to build your capacity as the Watcher before trying to purposefully change the thoughts.