Imagine this scenario I saw depicted in a favorite cartoon.
A woman is curled up in an easy chair, pressing a soggy tissue to her teary eyes.
Her husband sees her sobbing and sniffling. “What’s wrong, honey, are you okay,” he asks.
She looks up, distressed, then confesses, “I was making up scenarios in my head and took it too far and hurt my own feelings.”
Of course she did. We do that all the time. We imagine each step along the way to the worse case scenarios and we can’t stop ourselves from traveling that path the bitter end.
And that’s just the way our brains work by default.
Our brains are tuned to the Motivational Triad: avoid pain, seek pleasure, conserve energy.
It’s the brains way of trying to avoid pain later by over-planning and worrying about it right now.
Since it also wants to conserve energy, it’s not going to slow down enough to critically examine it’s ideas.
Why bother engaging in the more strenuous activity of examining our thoughts and carefully analyzing a situation before coming to a conclusion? That requires too much energy and focused presence.
Oh no, it’s much easier to jump to conclusions. And worry about the worst outcome.
Default thinking has out-sized power to hurt our feelings.
No matter what circumstances in life are happening to us, our brain is trying to make sense of them. Often relying on past experience as a guide, to conserve energy, of course.
We think sentences in our minds about the situation.
They tell “the story we make up” around anything happening in our lives. It’s those sentences that generate our emotions about the circumstance.
Yes, I did mean “the story we make up” because what we think, it’s merely an interpretation of events. And there can be more than one interpretation, often many. But for all the reasons explained above, we’ve settled on this particular one.
The Model: Thoughts generate feelings which drive behavior which create our results in life.
This is the way of the world. Like gravity, which is operational all the time although we’re often not conscious of it, the Model is operational all the time whether we are aware of it or not.
Those of you have been long time readers of this blog know that everything I write about comes back to this: no matter the circumstance, your life’s result originate with a thought. It’s a thought that generates the whole cascade of events that manifest your results.
Default thinking is based on our propensity for thinking old, well-worn thoughts over and over again because they are well grooved in our brain’s neural pathways. It’s easiest for our brain to retrieve those thoughts thereby conserving energy.
Because we are so reliant on our well-grooved default thinking, we are masters at conjuring up explanations and stories that hurt our own feelings.
It’s easier to create new interpretations, based on old interpretations of past events. We construct towers of interpretations which reinforce original interpretations.
We don’t have to accept any thoughts our brains offer up for consideration.
Our brains offering up thoughts are like run-away horses that have escaped the barn. They’ve taken off like wildfire before we can grab the reins to bring them back under our control.
But how observant are you of your own thinking ?
How many times a day do you stop to watch your own thinking with a dispassionate eye?
How many times a day do you catch yourself in the act of thinking default thoughts and redirect your thinking to thoughts which better serve you?
Here’s how to shift a pattern of default thinking.
You can learn to think more intentionally about your circumstances.
You will need to take the time to construct new thoughts to think that stimulate the feelings you want to feel.
If you want to feel powerful and in control, you need to brainstorm new thoughts that generate those feelings.
It’s that simple, yet challenging all the same.
I’m here to help you make headway so thinking intentionally becomes a new habit. You can learn how to intercept your default thinking and decide whether it is serving you or hindering you.
Do you want help looking at the default thinking that’s hurting your feelings?
I can teach you the skills and tools I use to manage my thinking.
Then you will understand how to manage your brain when your thoughts start heading down the worse case scenario path.
Schedule your free Strategy Call with me to get started right here.