Most people come to me because they want to feel better. They claim things such as
“I am not happy with my body.”
“My job drains my energy.”
“I don’t have enough time to exercise.”
If this sounds like something you’ve said before, this article is for you!
These statements imply that happiness comes from outside of you, like in your body, your energy levels, your job, and your time. These statements also imply that you want to feel a certain feeling, like happiness, but you do not think happiness is within your control. In other words, you are trying to outsource your happiness.
Here’s the truth- all of those outside variables are just circumstances, and none of them have anything to do with feeling better.
It doesn’t matter what size your body is, what your job is, how much time you have to exercise, or any other circumstance, or fact of your life. You can feel better now without changing any of those facts.
Happiness, joy, contentment, etc are not outside of you, which is GREAT news. Feeling better is only a thought away! That’s right, you can feel anything you want to feel simply by changing your thinking, because all of our feelings are created in our minds by our thoughts.
As a society, we have been groomed to believe otherwise. The media and advertising send messages that tell us by acquiring something external, we can change how we feel. For example, one ad campaign Coca-Cola used was “Open Happiness,” implying that happiness comes from drinking their product. Thousands of companies have made similar promises, but that’s not actually the way it works.
The truth is that your thoughts create your feelings. Your feelings drive your actions, and your actions create your results. The circumstances or facts of your life are what they are. They’re neutral—neither good nor bad. I call this the Model. It’s the tool I teach and use to coach my clients. I use it to solve any problem, including feeling better.
By using the Model, you’ll see the way to change how you feel is to change how you think. This is often hard for people to wrap their minds around when I first introduce the concept to them. But, it WILL improve your life and make you feel better if you practice it.
When you have thoughts like “I am not happy with my body” or “My job that I hate drains me, so I don’t have energy to cook healthy food,” you are likely experiencing feelings like self-pity. But you don’t want to feel self-pity, you want to feel something better! Let’s say you decide you want to feel proud instead- what thought would you need to have to feel proud? Write down what thoughts you would need to have to feel proud of yourself. These thoughts will vary from person to person, so there’s not a right or wrong answer, but a good starting place is “I am responsible for my feelings, and today I choose to feel proud.”
When you decide to reach for a new thought that produces the emotion of pride in your mind, and you practice thinking it over and over again, you will experience pride. This all happens inside your mind- without your body or job changing!
What’s amazing, is when you start to get this down, your brain will begin to default to pride over self-pity (or whatever feeling you’re working on changing), and you will see a positive ripple of changes in all areas of your life.
If you believe a thought, it will create a feeling. As human beings, we do everything we do in order to feel a certain way, so knowing we have control of this is such amazing news! It means you can identify thoughts and choose to believe them right now.You have the capability to feel better right now because by thinking believable thoughts, you will create the emotion you want to feel. This shift can truly happen within a few minutes if you are intentional about it!
The key is, you need tobelieveyour new thoughts. This is where you will have to put the work in. It is not enough to think new thoughts if you do not believe them. This is why affirmations often do not work, and sometimes even backfire and make you feel worse. Because if you’re telling yourself 50 times per day “I love my body,” but you don’t believe it, you are actually reinforcing the real, underlying thought, that your body is not lovable. Your brain is smart enough to know what you really believe. This is why it’s very important to practice thoughts you think are true.
You might be wondering how to find true belief in a thought. This is where you’ll want to bridge the gap between the negative thought and the positive thought until the mental habit becomes a belief. The way to do this is by moving closer to the positive thought, even if it’s just a little at a time.
For example, you might think “I have a capable body that shows up for me every day.” It’s not as drastic as jumping from “I despise my body” to “I love my body,” but it’s moving closer toward the new thought. The thought “I have a capable body that shows up for me every day” likely would give you a feeling of respect, which is one step closer to pride. Continue reaching for thoughts that move you closer to the ultimate feeling you want to have.
You can start feeling better today by practicing the following:
- Ask yourself what you’re feeling.
2. Identify the thought you’re having that’s causing you to feel that way.
3. Decide how you want to feel.
4. Create a new thought that will create that feeling (i.e. ask yourself what you would be thinking if you were feeling the emotion you want to feel).
5. Bridge the gap between what you’re thinking and what you want to think by practicing the new thought.