Break the Cycle of Habitual Thinking and Speaking
Our words speak our truth in more ways than we realize. And it’s not just our spoken words but what we are continually saying to ourselves in our mind, as well. Our speaking, internal and external, makes visible our thinking and our thinking creates our perceived reality. We then make decisions based on our perceptions, often reinforcing our thinking and speaking. It’s an endless cycle that can keep us caught in a loop of our own making.
I had a client years ago that was trying to take a big leap in his business. He had a pattern of saying “I’ll have to pay the piper” whenever he was talking about the decisions he needed to make. As you can probably imagine, this thinking had him paralyzed. When I pointed it out to him and asked what price he thought he had to pay, he was stumped. It was a phrase his father has used when he was growing up that had little meaning to him now. When I forbade him to use that phrase, he found himself thinking it almost continually during the next week. That brought it right to his attention. He eliminated that phrase from his internal and external language and soon was moving forward as he desired.
As human beings, we tend to habituate easily and take on the thinking of those around us. It’s a survival tool that kept us alive and connected to our tribe in the past. It does the same thing now but times have changed. To elevate our work and success, we need to elevate our thinking; no longer allowing our unconscious primal patterning to rule the day. If you hear yourself thinking or saying things like “I don’t know what I’m doing” “I’m never going to figure this out” “This always happens to me”, or “I don’t see how this is ever going to happen”, it’s a sign you’re in an unproductive loop.
I am regularly guilty of using my thinking against myself. After years of martial arts training, my mind is powerful and can get me stuck if I let it. Here are some warning signs:
- You are using absolutes like never, always, forever in your thinking and/or speaking
- You hear yourself saying or thinking the same phrase repeatedly
- You have a mental word loop going in your head, like having a song stuck in there.
- You notice your language and thinking is more negative than positive, more judgmental than accepting, more angry than encouraging
- Your thinking and words are reinforcing what you don’t want to happen instead of what you do
- You are thinking/saying old, outdated phrases your parents (grandparents) said when you were young
This is sometimes hard to catch ourselves. Like music playing in the background, we aren’t really paying attention. So ask your friends, loved ones, colleagues or coach to notice for you. I guarantee they already know your habitual thinking and/or speaking patterns. Embarrassingly, this is often more visible to others than it is to ourselves.
It’s worth noticing, too. Once you observe and change your habitual thinking and speaking patterns, you’ll make better, less subjective decisions, get more of what you want and feel happier. These loops are completely under your control, if you can just see them.