• Morgan Wasylyk

Thoughts + Emotions + Perspective = Your Life Experience [Part 2]


I am so excited to be coming back to the topic of our thoughts. Our thoughts are the way in which we experience our life. As discussed in November, thoughts create emotions, our emotions shape our perspective and our perspective is how we experience our life.

Today, I'll be getting into how to shift the habits of our thoughts.

If you feel you need more guidance in the area, I strongly encourage you to reach out to myself, or someone else you feel can help. It can be a difficult area to navigate solo, as we own have our own very individual live experiences, past, wounds, etc. that are the governance of our subconscious mind. There's no shame in needing guidance in this area; in fact, I encourage it.

How to Create Positive Habits of Thought

Let’s review the four steps of habit formation according to James Clear in his book Atomic Habits and look at how thoughts become habits.

The Four Stages of Habit Formation

Stage 1: Cue (or Trigger)

The cue is a situation or feeling that triggers your brain to initiate a thought behaviour. It notices something in your inner or outer environment and leads to a craving for a specific reward.

Example: Your struggling relationship triggers a unwanted feeling within you. You feel frustrated by this and this feeling of frustration leads to a craving.

Stage 2: Craving (to feel better)

The craving is the motivational force behind the habit of thinking. It’s the change in state you want to achieve.

Example: You don’t want to feel frustrated anymore. You crave feeling calm and in control. This craving leads to your brain looking for a way to achieve that feeling.

Stage 3: Response

The response is the actual thought you have to satisfy your craving.

Example: You think to yourself “They don’t respect me, what’s wrong with them?” This response gives you the shift in emotion you were craving and leads to the reward.

Stage 4: Reward (or Outcome)

The reward is the end goal of every habit, it satisfies your craving and/or teaches you something. If the response satisfies your craving, you will learn that the response was worth doing again in the future and it can become a habit. However, if the response took too much energy or wasn’t satisfying enough then your brain will learn that it isn’t worth doing again in the future and will resist making it a habit.

Example: When you responded with the thoughts “They don’t respect me, what’s wrong with them?”, you’ve eased your frustration because you have something to blame it on. It gives you the sense of control you were craving.

The problem is, it didn’t satisfy your craving to feel calm. Plus, you want peaceful relationships, and thinking negative thoughts about others doesn’t make you feel good in the long run and can ultimately lead to many problems physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Which is good, because it means you can teach your brain to choose a new thought response in the future that feels better. Once your brain sees that there’s an alternate response that feels better, it will lean towards making that your new habit of thinking.

How Being Mindful of Your Thoughts can Change Your Whole Life Experience

Practicing being mindful of your thoughts is incredibly illuminating and can be huge in helping you to avoid burnout and feeling like you’re living your best life. Remember, thoughts create emotions, emotions create your perspective and your perspective creates your experience. Your thoughts are at the root of it all and can create an awesome experience or a negative one no matter the situation.

If you aren’t convinced that being mindful of your thoughts is super important, consider this: two people go to the same movie. One person loves it, one hates it. The movie (the neutral situation) isn’t what creates the experience, it’s the person’s thoughts ABOUT the movie that create their unique perspective and experience.

The best way to become mindful of your thoughts is through a daily mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to your thoughts and feelings with openness and non-judgement. The point here is to simply begin to notice the types of thoughts you’re in the habit of thinking. Once you’re aware of your old programming, you’re empowered to begin making changes.

Change your thoughts, change your emotions, change your perspective, change your experience.

So, let’s look at our last example and see how we can make changes so that we actually feel better.

How to Create New Thought Habits Stage 1: Cue (Trigger)

Your struggling relationship triggers a unwanted feeling within you. You feel frustrated by this and this feeling of frustration leads to a craving

Stage 2: Craving

Example: You don’t want to feel frustrated anymore. You crave feeling calm and in control. This craving leads to your brain looking for a way to achieve that feeling.

Stage 3: NEW Response

You notice the familiar feeling and catch the old thought. Then, you consciously choose to think a better feeling thought: “They’re having a hard time, how can I help?”. This response gives you the shift in emotion you were craving and leads to the reward.

Stage 4: NEW Reward (Outcome)

Thinking “they’re having a hard time, how can I help?” rather than “they’re giving me a hard time, what’s wrong with them?” leads to feelings of compassion and gives you the sense of calm control you were craving because now you’re focused on finding a solution rather than dwelling on the problem.

Not only did this response satisfy your craving of feeling calm and in control, it also taught you that this thought felt better than the old one, so your mind is more inclined to reach for this thought in future frustrating situations.

Let’s review what we’ve covered so that we can avoid burnout and drama by creating good habits of thought.

How to be Mindful of Your Thoughts to Change Your Life Experiences

Step 1: Use a mindfulness practice to become aware of your thought habits.

Notice during your mindfulness practice how your thoughts make you feel. Soon, you’ll be better able to catch your negative thoughts during your day and choose better feeling thoughts before they snowball and lead to teacher burnout.

Examples of Mindful Practices: mindful eating, mindful showering, mindful brushing your teeth, etc. These all just mean focusing on your task at hand on a deep and conscious level to keep you in the present moment. Other examples to build your awareness, consciousness and mindfulness are: meditation, tapping/EFT/Emotional Freedom Technique, yoga, hiking, journaling, quiet / reflective bath, dancing, singing, etc.

Step 2: Use the Four Stages of Habit Formation to Create a New Thought Habit Refer to the picture below to help you use the cue, craving, response, reward habit loop to change your experience in the classroom.

Step 3: Know that this practice of catching thoughts that make you feel bad and switching them to better feeling thoughts is an ongoing practice. Have compassion for yourself as you practice and keep working at it. You’ll find that over time it will become a habit.

In Closing

I know this A LOT. Take time to digest and remember; change doesn't always have to be so complicated. It doesn't have to even be all that noticable to the outside world. It can be subtle and intrinsic. I'm always here to help in the areas of understanding your thoughts/habits and how to shift them in healthy ways.

Wishing you a fabulous 2022,

Morgan



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