How to Let Go of the Stories in Your Head
THOUGHTS, BELIEFS AND ASSESSMENTS
Do you believe all the thoughts in your head? Here’s the thing they aren’t always true. Thoughts become beliefs, and set up the stories you create about yourself. These stories, also known as assessments are a form of judgement. Self-judgement, the judgement of others and believing your stories and assessments can create obstacles in your path.
Thoughts, Beliefs, and Assessments are not created equal, they all play a unique and vital part in our way of being.
Thoughts are ideas or opinions that are produced by the mind. When your thoughts become persistent they form a belief. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a belief is an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof. Let that sink in. We can fall into the trap of our beliefs, thinking they are true when they aren’t always.
This is where assessments come in, according to Alan Sieler from Newfield Institute, an assessment is a judgement or opinion we have about human phenomena (eg. persons, events, circumstances, organisations) and non-human phenomena (eg. animals, landscapes, plants).
Our assessments are based on our past experiences. We look at how they show up for us in the present moment and make decisions about our future. Do you believe the stories in your head?
BREAKING DOWN YOUR THOUGHTS AND BELIEFS
Have you ever heard the phrase “thoughts become things”? This statement is a reflection of the process thoughts take when they shift from passing thoughts to deep-seated beliefs.
Unsure of what your beliefs are? Do this exercise.
Log your thoughts. Look closely at the stories in your head. Do this by paying attention to your thoughts throughout the day.
Carry a notebook with you, and jot your thoughts down, do this for a week for optimum results.
At the end of the week, set aside some time to review your notebook. You may notice there are a lot of random thoughts. You can set these aside.
Make a note of your positive and negative thoughts:
- Do you notice any recurring patterns?
- Are you primarily a worrier, or are you more optimistic?
- What is your self-talk like? Are you kind to yourself, or more of a bully?
- Do you see problems or possibilities?
Get really honest, the clearer you are the more effective this exercise will be.
From the data, you have gathered write a list of your potential beliefs. These are beliefs about yourself, other people, the world. Again, be really transparent here, carefully look at your recurring thoughts, maybe the results are surprising to you, and that’s why this exercise can be so helpful. If you discover you have a lot of negative beliefs you can work on shifting them to more positive ones.
THE ‘TRUTH’ ABOUT ASSESSMENTS
Assessments can reinforce our beliefs. They can be positive or negative. When we look at them in terms of the past, present, and future we can break them down like this:
- Past: He/She consistently did X in the past
- Present: He/She is X (eg. kind, honest, humble, reliable, loyal, etc)
- Future: I expect X behaviour from him/her in the future.
Our experience of a person shapes our current and future assessments of them, and these stories that we hold onto can significantly impact our lives.
Let me give you an example. I had a friend who I felt I was always putting the effort in. I would call her and she would always be too busy to talk to me, she would always apologise profusely with a million excuses and promise to call me soon. She never did, and then the next time we would connect (often months later, because of a birthday) it would be prefaced with another apology and slippery promise. So let’s break this down.
- Past: She consistently promised to call and never did in the past.
- Present: She is unreliable.
- Future: I expect unreliable behaviour from her in the future.
You can also look at your own stories and break them down in the same way. Here’s another example. I used to think I never secured jobs because I didn’t have the skills or experience.
1. Past: I never secured jobs I wanted in the past.
2. Present: I am not skilled or experienced enough to get any of the jobs I desire.
3. Future: I expect to never get a job I desire because I don’t have the skills or experience.
These are both examples of negative assessments. Assessments are judgements. Opinions that are often not based on any truth. They can be grounded or ungrounded. A grounded assessment can be supported with evidence and facts (true assertions) and ungrounded assessments cannot.
Creating stories and assessments is an inherent part of our human nature. But is it always useful? The answer is no, they don’t always serve us and can affect our relationships negatively, like when we make an assessment that someone hasn’t called so they must be angry at us, when the truth is their phone has died, and they have a flat tire and so haven’t been able to cal. We have created this assessment and story about something that we will later discover is ungrounded. The problem with these ungrounded assessments is that they can cause us unnecessary stress and worry, and that affects our way of being.
As an Ontological Life Coach, I use a process to ground assessments to determine whether they are true and useful, or false and potentially detrimental. To support you to shift to a more positive way of being and to help you detach from your ungrounded assessments I am offering you this process for free. Click the image below to grab your copy.
If you would like support with this process I also offer it in my one on one coaching, so feel free to message me for more info or sign up to one of my packages here.
Let’s get the conversation going, how have you been allowing assessments to rule your life? Comment below.