Here’s some phrases I use a lot in therapy and how they can help you.
- “Don’t hop on that train.” Your thoughts and feelings are like trains at a train station. They come and go. They have a set destination and if you get on them they will take you there. Don’t get on the train. Stand tall and grounded on the platform, recognize your thought train and let it go. Another one will be arriving at the station shortly. And if for some reason you do get on the wrong train don’t take it all the way to the final station. What will your life look like when you no longer give in to your thoughts and feelings impulsively?
- “The universe will always seek balance.” If you have been doing too much of one thing, your body and mind will try to slow down or even change direction. This explains how people are able to change naturally, “grow out” of things or phase out of behaviors. This applies to unhealthy and healthy behaviors equally. Balance is the key to happiness. How would you feel if you had more balance in your life?
- “Well, that’s just irrational.” I’m sorry if that sounds blunt. It doesn’t mean you’re wrong or bad or crazy. We all have irrational thoughts. Some us give irrational thoughts more power than they should because they confuse thoughts for facts. “If I think it, it exists.” That can’t be further from the truth. You don’t have the power to make things happen with your thoughts. But irrational thoughts will dictate how you feel. If reality cannot be changed, changing your thoughts will change the way you feel. What do you see yourself accomplishing when you start getting control of your thoughts?
- “We don’t walk around with a thought bubble.” Just because you think something, does not mean you have to say it. Just because you have a weird fantasy, a terrifying thought, a morally despicable thought, fantastical hopes and wishes, that does not mean you have to make them public, all the time. Choose wisely who you confide in. Pick and choose the thoughts you want to share. Make sure they are persistent and not fleeting. If you share your thoughts, hopes wishes, dreams they are out there in the world suddenly more real than they will ever be in your own head. You can’t undo speech. Choose your words wisely. What will your relationships look like when you start choosing your words wisely?
- “Sit with it.” Humans tend to be self-absorbed and often fail to recognize that the world does not revolve around them. We can be impulsive and self-indulgent. We live in a society where instant gratification is a reality. There isn’t much we desire that we can’t procure. We tend to be spoiled, even ungrateful. There are books and articles and videos on cultivating patience. This is because we lack the opportunity to practice patience. What is required is a practice of sitting with an impulse for some time, until its power has dissipated. Time can be from counting to 10 to a couple of hours. Sitting with it means postponing. The two main weapons against impulsivity are time and intentionally delaying gratification. You possess more self-control than you think you do. How will patience and self-control empower you to achieve your goals?
- “Progress not perfection.” Are you setting yourself up to succeed? I am interested to know how you got to failure. Sure that’s an important story. But, I’m more interested in how you are going to move forward towards success and progress. I’m more interested in the solution. Perfectionism will work against you here. So we won’t need it. Leave it at the door with all your “shoulds”. If you look closely, there is a way to set yourself up to achieve success. That might require unpleasant things like, asking for help, quieting your Ego, changing your ways, letting go of need to control, stopping negative self-talk, etc. It also requires a plan, follow-through and accountability. Ask yourself “How will I feel when I achieve this goal? What would it mean? How will it make me feel about myself and others?
- “Think rational not positive” I don’t want to tell you your wife and your children will forgive your indiscretions. I don’t want to tell you that your marriage will work or that your father will stop drinking. I can’t tell you that everything will be OK and all will be right with the world. It’s simply not true. If you want to be optimistic go ahead. But keep your feet on the ground. If I sell you BS, you’ll know it. You are smart enough to not buy it. And you shouldn’t. Reality sucks sometimes. Often, there is nothing we can do about some realities other than get to a place of acceptance and surrender. But we can only do that if our thinking is rational and realistic.
What I have found from my experience, is that everyone has the ability and motivation to make the changes they want in life. You possess that wisdom within you, even if you have forgotten or ignored it. Explore your own solutions, use the right tools and get some support along the way.