Our brain is so powerful. It thinks 60,000-80,000 thoughts each day and manages to keep us alive and productive.
Those thoughts are the source of all feelings, actions and results we achieve in our lives. And all thoughts are optional. Seems so simple. So why is it if thoughts are optional and the reason we are where we are, why is it we continue to make the same mistakes and have such difficulty locating the thoughts that are the source of our pain?
One of the reasons is “E-Z pass thoughts.”
Think about the EZ pass driving tool. It allows us to pass through tolls without stopping or even slowing down. An EZ- pass thought is the same- a thought that we have that doesn’t require our brain to slow down.
An “E-Z pass thought” is one that we have over and over. It becomes so automatic we don’t even know we are having it. And our brains believe the thought as if it’s telling us the weather report. Common ones I hear from clients are:
– “Parenting is so hard.”
– “Being transgender is going to be hard for my child.”
– “They aren’t safe.”
– “I don’t know what to do.”
– “I don’t know how to handle this.”
We believe these thoughts are true. But in fact, they are completely optional. And having them holds us back from allowing things to be different. We aren’t able to see where something may be easy and open to a variety of possibilities in how to handle a situation. We close our minds to our own creativity and problem solving.
So what do we do when we find thoughts like these in our minds?
First, notice them. Notice when they creep into your mind. Is it under stress or all the time? Notice the triggers.
Next, question the thought. Is it true? Think of the thought, “they aren’t safe.” Is it true? Where is your child right now? Are they safe? Is your home a safe place? Yes, there may be challenges in the world but are they safe right now?
Decide whether you want to keep the thought. Is it serving you to believe you don’t know what to do? Is it allowing you to stay stuck in indecision or to blame someone else for a decision that may go wrong? Is that how you want to live? Or do you want to be in control of your situation and want to choose something else? Because thoughts are optional, we could believe the opposite of each thought just as honestly as they one we are having. Just because the thought is easy doesn’t mean we want to have it or keep it.
If you decide you want to change the thought but cannot find the new thought believable, create a ladder between them. This means create small changes you can believe that move you in the direction you want go. For example, you can’t yet believe, “My child is safe.” You could choose an in between thought such as, “My child is safe right now.” This allows how to build a bridge from the old thought to the new one.
Lastly, return to the first step. Keep noticing when the thought creeps back and make a commitment to challenge it each time it creeps back in. You will notice the thought will eventually get off the “EZ-Pass” and become less automatic.
What thoughts are on your EZ-Pass? Take a moment to write one down and challenge it. You’ll be amazed the shifts you can make by changing a single thought.