I have lived within my thoughts all of my life. My thoughts ran and at some points, ruined my life. We have been programmed without even knowing it and that programming turns into our thoughts, both unconscious and conscious. These thoughts are what contributes to how we act, our anxiety, our depression, and what we pursue.
Kara Loewentheil teaches about thought work and how to differentiate your conscious from unconscious thoughts while being able to release their hold on us. From her, I have learned how to take a step back and really review the thoughts that are hurting me.
Kara recommends taking time each day to simply write, with or without intention. When you write out the thoughts that are stuck in your head, you get to see them on paper where you can review and analyze them. When the thoughts are stuck in your head, analysis isn’t as easy. The process of getting our thoughts onto paper and analyzing them gives us a degree of separation. When we are observing our thoughts purely in our mind, there is no separation. When we put them onto paper, we are able to separate our thoughts from ourselves.
Kara said, ” Your brain doesn’t know how to stop thinking something. You have to give it something else to think instead.”
By putting our thoughts on paper and then analyzing them, we are able to give our brain a different perspective to think about. We are able to use the analytical part of our brain on the thought rather than just the emotional part. The ability to analyze our thoughts isn’t something that comes easily. This is a practice we must adopt.
After I listened to a training and a few podcasts from Kara, I implemented a half-ass version of her recommendations. Even with doing my half-assed version, I have been able to process my thoughts better and analyze why I’m so pissed off or hurt about situations. I have been able to identify that some situations that I’m ruminating over are really not about me at all. I was able to realize that the lay-off I went through had nothing to do with me. Nothing. It wasn’t a reflection on my efforts in my role at all. I’ve been able to look back and see thoughts that were negative and harming me and where they were coming from.
To be honest, I haven’t done my thought work daily and that’s okay. I do sit down to work on my thoughts any time I have an overwhelming or negative thought. I make sure that if I am hurt or pissed off about something, I do at least my half-assed version. Why? Because if I don’t, those thoughts will run my day or my life and may even ruin a good thing.
I’m not perfect in my thought work and I still have a lot of work to do. What I can tell you is that this practice is worth it and just might change your life or release some of that anxiety you are feeling.
Here are a couple of Kara’s recommended steps and questions to use.
1. Set a daily time on your calendar for 5 minutes (Yup, all she recommends to start with is 5 minutes!!)
2. Just write until the 5-minute timer goes off.
Questions to use:
1. When did the thought occur?
2. What was happening?
3. What is the exact thought I’m having right now about this?
Kara recommends getting concrete and specific. I recommend adding another question to ask: Is this thought coming from a place of fear? If so, what is the underlying fear?
When doing thought work, you will start to get really familiar with what your negative thoughts are and where they are coming from. This will give you specific areas that you can work on through your personal growth journey. By doing this thought work, you will be able to realize what thoughts are holding you back from releasing the anxiety you are experiencing.
One last question to ask yourself, “What would it feel like to show up and feel absolutely confident about yourself?”