How much time do you waste hanging out in your head creating drama after drama? I don’t say this to belittle the stuff that feels really real going on in your life but I’m just curious to know how much is made up and how much is actually true.
One of my favourite questions to ask clients (or my children for that matter) is, ‘what do you know to be true?’ Or sometimes more directly when it’s called for, ‘you’re just making that up!’ no question just a statement from me to them. Or sometimes even more directly (and this is when I know the client really really well) and it’ll go something more like this, ‘you do know you’re talking bollocks don’t you.’ Sometimes coaching with me isn’t for the fainthearted!
I’m reminded of a recent conversation with a client who phoned me in an absolute state, she had recently started a new job, a promotion and she was feeling totally out of her depth. She was actually hyperventilating. She felt a fraud, she felt she was going to be found out, she felt that the meeting the following day was going to be a disaster because she didn’t think she was on top of the work and her boss was going to get mad with her and on it went. She was even considering handing in her notice. On and on and on. She was really really believing this story that she was telling herself.
After a while I interrupted her and asked her to tell me which of all the things she’d been telling me about was actually true. We looked at a similar situation the previous week when she’d had her first appraisal from her new up line manager and it had gone better than she could have hoped. We looked at a time when she was really excited about the new job and her potential to bring something fresh to the department. We found plenty of times when she was feeling the exact opposite to how she was feeling on our call. So getting back to the ‘what do you know to be true’ question…there wasn’t actually much she could definitively say was true. Now, isn’t that interesting!
You see, it seems to boil down to one simple thing.
Our experience of life comes from only one place, our thought in the moment. Nowhere else. And we are living in the feeling of that thinking moment to moment. My client’s experience was not coming from her job (the one she was considering resigning from) or her boss (who she was imagining preferred the woman who’s role she had taken over from). My client’s experience was simply coming from some pretty low grade and unreliable thinking.
And you know what? I got a call the following day to let me know that the meeting had gone really well, her boss was delighted with her progress and all was well with the world. How much easier would her life have been if she’d chosen not to believe her thinking the day before?
So, how does this relate to whatever’s going on in your life currently? Where are you getting caught up in thinking? What do you know to be true? I’d love to hear back from you and remember you can always book in a quick coaching session right here.