Just like a story told in the pages of a book, our lives keep unfolding in front of us. Every now and again as days fall from the future, events and circumstances keep adding to the lengths of our narratives. Ipso facto, we narrate in our heads in various ways,what happens in our lives. The things we tell ourselves in our heads (the way we interpret events) determine how we feel and how we respond to life and act. But what has this got to do with the life-changing question? Let’s find out
The equation as established by the Cognitive Mediation Theory (Lazarus Cognitive Mediational Theory of Emotion) is so simple: Events+thoughts=Emotions. It is the way we think about events that influences how we feel, and the way we feel is the way we act. This is called self-talk, the mental habit of describing what happens in our lives. Your mental descriptions of events create the way you act, and the way you act is who you are. In other words, as a man thinketh, so is he (Proverbs 23:3) . As a matter of fact, the feelings that come hugging you are very much identical to the way you think about events and circumstances
Your thoughts could be right or wrong, but it’s in your best interest to choose them according to how you want to feel. Yes, we can always make that choice. Always remember that your thoughts are no gospel. They are just thoughts. Make of them what you prefer. We will soon discover what the life-changing question could be but before that, it’s important we both discover answers to the questions that are running through your mind right now as to what I mean by self-talk. Nick Wignall discusses some forms of inaccurate self-talk that make us miserable:
FORMS OF INACCURATE SELF-TALK THAT MAKE US MISERABLE (COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS)
This is the tendency for us to announce in the various corners of our heads that the unpleasant situation is bound to keep occurring in the future. The negative prediction we make based on isolated unpleasant episodes of our lives form the solid foundation on which we say and do. Such predictions are not always correct. For instance,
- You start a business and it doesn’t turn out the way you would have loved, and you conclude that things will always be the same.
- You go for three job interviews and no one calls you thereafter. Because of this, you announce in your mind that this might never work and that there is no use lobbying for another job.
- Some people wrote the competitive entrance examination into a certain school you want to attend and they failed, then you decide never to try it because you think it will always be as challenging as the previous ones. No! The right thing to do is take the challenge of doing it even again and again. Do not take your unique finger print for granted. Samuel Becket, the Irish author said
Ever tried, ever failed. No matter. Try again, fail again, fail better.
That you failed in the past is not reason that you should fail again in the future. But if you fail again, fail only in something that matters to you. Keep trying it, it always ends up well. However, focus your thoughts only on the thing you desire and not its opposites. There is no principle for failure, there is a principle for success. focus on it!
2. Mind Reading
This is when, without any clear evidence, we assume that we know what other people are thinking. In most cases, it is misdirected imagination. While we interact with people, we seldom admit in our heads that at various crucial moments, their thoughts could be neutral or positive.
- Your boss does not pick your phone call and you quickly conclude that he/she is mad at you. He or she rings you phone and when you pick the say “let’s have a word in my office before you leave today”. You start telling yourself ” oh it must be that I have done something wrong again” . This affects productivity.
- A relative of yours stays for long without giving you a phone call and you conclude in your head that he/she does not like you. It is very likely that you will never think of soliciting their assistance when you need it, and this might go a long way to leave you stranded. Just because of a (faulty) thought you nurtured! Yes, such thoughts can always cross your mind, but remember that they are mere thoughts and not the gospel. Dismiss the negative internal suggestions. They are not helpful. Dismiss them and grow!
3. Emotional Reasoning, a sharp opposite of the life-changing question
This is the habit of making decisions according to the way we feel and not according the the things we value. ” When we use our emotions and feelings as evidence for what we should or shouldn’t do, we end up spending all our time running away from discomfort rather than toward the things we really value” Nick Wignall.
- An excuse like this one:
A: Will you attend today’s leadership seminar?
B: No, I don’t think I will
A: Why not?
B: Well, I just don’t feel like it.
You love the idea and experience of working as a medical doctor but you don’t feel like attending university for 7 years.
What do you value?
4. Magnification /Minimization
Magnification is when we take small negative situations and amplify them in our minds.
- Your boss gives you work and you make a mistake while you are working. You start telling yourself that he will certainly say that he hired the wrong person, that you aren’t competent and that he might fire you. This makes you feel relatively inferior in that company. It doesn’t help your personality. Dismiss such thoughts!
Minimization is when we dismiss our strengths and positive qualities. In other words, we don’t allow ourselves to be boosted up by our accomplishments.
- Someone congratulates you for passing in your test and your response is ” Ah I passed but I failed in one of the cheapest questions. I’m so dumb” . Avoid this and rather be thankful.
When you must have figured out the life-changing question and learned to answer it each time a thought crosses your mind, you will begin living an excellent life
WHY TALK ABOUT THESE? ARE THEY RELATED TO THE LIFE-CHANGING QUESTION ?
The truth is that the way we feel about ourselves determines how productive we will be. And our thoughts determine our feelings.
If we all understand that the things that happen in our lives are just mirror images of what our thoughts are, we will be careful about which thoughts to entertain. The examples given above are just as small as a cell. Such instances are just as many as the billions of people of people on earth will imagine. As a matter of fact, every human being desires success and happiness. However, a vast majority of people is still struggling with learning how to embrace these. Check your thoughts, and choose which ones you should entertain.
How do I manage my thoughts to my advantage? That is the life-changing question!