"We think we are experiencing reality but what we are really experiencing is our thinking." Michael Neill
I spent a large part of the weekend digging up the old flowerbeds in our new garden. This involved extracting more or less one species of plant - an unidentified bulb - that had taken over anywhere with soil. A previous owner had probably planted a couple of these years ago thinking they'd be an attractive addition to the garden.
The problem is, they'd been left to do their own thing without supervision and they'd run riot.
Applying this to our minds, this is often how we allow negative thoughts to proliferate. We have thoughts like "I'm not good enough" or "I don't know what I'm talking about" or "What if I fail?" and, just like the bulb in my new garden, we allow them to take over our minds and become permanent fixtures.
These fixtures are often known as beliefs which hold us back from expressing ourselves fully - from speaking up, pushing back, doing what is true to us.
Here's some tips for "weeding out" negative thoughts :
- Be aware : negative thoughts are evolution's way of keeping us safe. However, we're not having to watch out for sabre-toothed tigers anymore. So, just as a couple of clumps of The Unidentified Bulb would have been enough for my garden, watch out for giving negative thoughts too much attention. Be ready with your spade to dig them out when they threaten to take over.
- Design your own garden : If you like gardening, I doubt you'd say, "Oh well, the weeds wouldn't leave me room to put in the plants I wanted to, so I just let them take over." In the same way, take note of your achievements and strengths, what energises and motivates you. Let them embed themselves in your mind.
- Acknowledge when you need help : I have had to leave one particular shrub for my husband to dig out because I could only get so far on my own. It was old and well-rooted. The same goes for our thoughts and fears; when we've allowed them to become deep-rooted, it can be challenging to reprogramme them on our own.
Keep practising : Like weeds, negative thoughts will keep popping up. That's being human for you. Stay on the alert and keep gardening.
Alison Reid is a leadership expert who helps talented senior managers and directors conquer new leadership challenges and drive business growth. She specialises in helping them overcome the fears and self-doubt which hold them back from unleashing their full leadership potential. Alison is an accredited coach, speaker and author of the white paper Taking the fear out of leadership - A 3-step process. Contact Alison here.