Your Thoughts LIE, Leading You to Anxiety, Stress, and Feeling Upset. But, You Can Have a Peaceful M
This is a guest post from Shawn Haywood, PhRD
Yes, your thoughts DO lie. And they lie a lot!
It’s true. A great many, and, arguably, most thoughts, beliefs and feelings are sneaky little LIARS that trick us into feeling anxious, stressed out and frustrated in myriad ways. False negative thoughts are frequent, to the tune of thousands of misleading thoughts per day that then wreak havoc on your emotions and stress levels, creating feelings of being upset, anxious and frustrated.
Have you ever thought about the possibility of thoughts, and your emotions, being rooted in lies or falsehoods? Do you practice questioning your thoughts, beliefs and feelings to make SURE they are legit, practical and useful? Or to see if any given thought is desirable and worth aligning your life with?
Considering inner (even unconscious) thoughts, beliefs or feelings as consistent and frequent “liars’” might seem weird, frightening or even off putting! But, hang in there, and all will become clear.
I spend a significant amount of time with clients helping them deconstruct their thinking, feeling and belief cycles, and then re-framing or re-creating to remove negativity, like anxiety, depression, feelings of being overwhelmed, frustration, anger, bitterness, feeling upset, chronic busyness, drama, chaos, resentment, over drinking, eating, spending, working or any other form of “over indulging” and to remove unwanted situations, interactions, results, emotions, people, obligations and even bad luck.
The thing is, some people want to be very, very, very happy and super-duper successful in their lives. Thus, deconstructing, reframing and recreating, as well as detaching from false thoughts, feelings and beliefs is THE way to become significantly happier and more successful.
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Let’s break this down so you can get an idea of what the heck I’m talking about when I say that feelings, beliefs and thoughts are usually rooted in unreliability and lies!
Example: Low Self-Confidence
Let’s say you have had a long-standing problem with low self-confidence. And perhaps this leads you to struggle with some combination of setting healthy boundaries, saying no, having healthy, honest or vulnerable relationships, feeling frequently frustrated, settling in some ways, having anxiety, fearing taking risks, feeling guilt, feeling melancholy, fearing being alone and the like.
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When situations such as these occur during one’s formative years (which essentially happens with everyone), children have a very poor way of understanding difficult experiences, drawing self-deprecating conclusions about their beautiful, perfect, precious and innocent little selves- i.e., you! This then develops over the years into unwanted life situations, feelings, experiences, perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, opinions and ideas.
We take on beliefs like, “I am not lovable enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not sexy enough, not talented enough, not helpful enough, not funny enough, not outgoing enough…” You can fill in your “not-enough” blanks. We all get to adulthood with myriad “not-enough” thoughts (lies) and beliefs (more lies) and then orient life around these lies. It is important to know that ALL beliefs related to “not being enough” are absolute lies.
These thoughts and beliefs then turn into actions, like trying too hard, procrastination, perfectionism, work-aholism, lying, underachievement, tumultuous relationships, settling, behaving as a victim, being helpless, wanting to be rescued, depression, anxiety, addiction, an “I can’t” mentality, chronic worry, guilt or fear, promiscuity, shyness, drugs, pornography addiction, obnoxiousness, any kind of drug or alcohol dependence, arrogance, being snide, sarcastic or rude...the list of possible icky or undesirable outlets for “not-enough” beliefs goes on and on to be played out.
For every faulty thought (which reflects inner beliefs) one has about him or herself, there are dozens of supporting faulty beliefs, thoughts and feelings that accompany it– which are also lies simply by association. And as a sneaky way to support faulty beliefs, our unconscious mind aligns our entire life experience to use as evidence to shore up the lies- and so the cycle is on constant repeat!
Whew! That’s kinda heavy, huh?
Let’s look at a specific life example from my childhood to make this increasingly clear and useful for you.
When I was a little girl, I struggled with undiagnosed reading comprehension and sensory processing issues. This made reading zero fun because my comprehension was very poor and produced test taking anxiety as well. My family and teachers thought I was “being lazy, making careless mistakes and not applying myself,” for which I got in a lot of trouble, all the while feeling upset and frustrated.
What did I garner from this combination of challenges?
“I am stupid.” Period. The end. This was a fact in my mind for far too many years. I must have repeated every version of “I am stupid/dumb/a moron/a dumbass/an idiot” a million times between first grade and my mid-twenties, when this belief was unveiled, actively challenged and changed! A pile of lies accumulated from this one, drawn out childhood experience. And because I bought into this lie, I felt terrible…often. I easily misinterpreted what others would say and made up my own meanings…i.e., I manufactured my own interpretations and perceived others as implying I was stupid thousands of time. Whatever beliefs we hold, such are our perception, beliefs and interpretations - without exception. If we are triggered, we will fall into the cycle of grossness that aligns with faulty thoughts and beliefs.
Have you ever said something to someone that was neutral or even a compliment, and that person took it COMPLETELY the wrong way and got offended?
Well, this can only happen when we manufacture our own interpretation of a message to align with our own limiting (lie) belief about ourselves. This then leads to feelings and emotions that, too, are faulty and based on lies.
The thing is, we all have old wounds. We each have old, messy tapes playing in our heads that are rooted in lies and that trigger anxious, guilty, fearful, sad, depressed or otherwise upsetting feelings. And if you do not take the time to deconstruct old wounds and messy messages, beliefs, feelings and thoughts, you will continue to experience life in unpleasant ways.
Breakdown:To break this example down, the lies unfolded like this: Belief – I am stupid. I am worthless (this sad belief came later). Accompanying Thoughts – I’ll never graduate. I can’t do anything better. People think I'm an idiot. Well, I am an idiot. I’ll never be able to earn a decent living. Accompanying Feelings – depression, anxiety and fear. Upsetting thoughts, beliefs and feelings of any kind are faulty and unreliable because they result from limiting beliefs. Anxiety was only real for me because I believed I was a helpless dumb dumb, a victim of poor intelligence. Thankfully, I was not a victim, and I am brilliant in my own, unique ways – as we all are.
It’s a shitty cycle. A really shitty cycle. And though much of our negativity originates during our formative years, it sprouts into thousands of unreliable thoughts, feelings and beliefs as an adult.
How do I handle and heal the lies that run through my head and heart? Rule of thumb:When you feel bad (in ANY way) you can be certain that a lie (negative thought and limiting beliefs) is behind the scenes, hijacking your emotions.
Take Liberating ACTION:
Be on the lookout and become consciously aware of negative feelings.
When a negative feeling does come up, ask yourself, “What lie must I be thinking and believing in order to feel this way?”
Ask, "How do I know that this thought or belief is true, and does believing this serve me well and make me feel happy?"
Ask, "What could I believe and think instead that would honor me and lead me to more success and happiness?"
I encourage you to copy this four-step process and keep it with you. Remembering to question unpleasant emotions can be a challenge. Sometimes, we are so emotionally attached to our inner mental drama stories that we become very stubborn. You have a great opportunity here to begin deconstructing the distress, suffering, stress and anxiety that is in your head and heart. Don’t pass it up.
My confidence ended up being very poor around anything having to do with academics or intelligence until I actively changed this belief into something that truly honored me and allowed me to thrive. This shift literally opened the door for me to finish undergraduate school, get a master’s and a PhD, start my own business, become a writer and program developer, and, really, put me on the path to the unbelievable life I have now and share with the man of my dreams. Thank god for my willingness to question my beliefs, thoughts and emotions!
Trust me, I have had hundreds of limiting thoughts and crippling beliefs that created loads of suffering (though joyfully fewer and fewer every week!). EVERYONE struggles with inner lies that float around wreaking havoc on life, career, relationships, emotions, body image, parenting, loving and everything in between. But, a few people take the time to look for the underlying lies, uproot them and transform them into increasingly rock-star happy, successful living from the inside to the outside...I hope you’ll be one of these fortunate few!
Cheers, and thanks for joining! I would love your comments and feedback below or as a private message!
Hit me upif you’d like help getting started uprooting some of your own mental fabrications and limiting beliefs. I'd love to support your journey toward success and happiness!
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