How To Lead A Happier Life Through NETFLIXING
Thoughts Determine Your Quality of Life. Choose your Thought Movies Wisely.
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.-Buddha
In my coaching practice, the thoughts of the people I coach play an important role. Over and over I observe to what extend thoughts determine a person’s feeling and the following behavior.
In the case of positive thoughts, that is a great thing and not a problem. But coaching usually involves people that feel stuck in life or unhappy with a situation or with their lives due to negative thought patterns.
Negative thoughts have a very destructive effect on the quality of your life
Let me explain
Suppose there are unpleasant things happening in your relationship. Your partner’s behavior has been irritating you for months. He always goes out with friends, comes home late and has a hangover the next day.
Your thoughts might be: ‘Is it really necessary that he goes out so often? I’m disappointed that he stays out so late and then cannot get out of his bed the next day because of a hangover. When he finally has a day off to do something fun with the kids, he’s lying in bed until 1 pm. Moreover, he is also not the charming flannel king we all know and love after a night out.’
‘Obviously he prefers to go out with his friends rather than spending time with me. What do we actually have left together? Like this he is not a nice father for our children.’
The moment he wakes up, you’ll snap him with your words and give him a disapproving look. The whole day you’ll be short tempered.
Probably you feel angry and sad because you’re disappointed. You may also feel rejected because he is going out with his friends and not with you.
Disappointments often come from the fact that you have expectations about how you think things should be or should have become. You get disappointed if something turns out differently than you expected.
I’ve learned in my life and coaching practice that having expectations can be rather tricky. For when expectations are not met, it can lead to negative thinking, disillusionment and discontent.
Expectations are delayed disappointments
The danger of repetitive thoughts
The way you think and your thoughts create a certain feeling. If that feeling holds you captive for a longer while, it will cause a repetitive stream of thought. I call that a ‘Thought Movie’.
This can be positive or negative. Repetitive streams of positive thinking are of course no problem. They lead to a happy life!
It starts becoming problematic of you create Thought Movies by repetitive streams of negative thinking. If you are not aware of this, then it can go on for a long time and can have a huge impact.
You create your own Thought Movie by a repetitive stream of thinking
Repeating thoughts lead to a conviction. In my words, your Thought Movie has a message and an ending that stays the same. For the idea of a movie is that it is filmed and recorded, so it can be played again. A Thought Movie is therefore fixed and hard-wired in your mind. Movies have all sorts of endings, good and bad.
Like in the above situation. You may start believing that your husband is selfish, that you’re on your own, that he doesn’t stand beside you, that he doesn’t like you anymore, or that he is not a good father.
Convictions and beliefs lead to patterns. A pattern is an (often unconsciously) automatic behavior that follows a trigger (also called a stimulus).
In my words, your (corresponding) Thought Movie starts playing if a certain trigger makes you push the Play Button. Which is actually good news, for it is you that pushes the play button! How you can control that, I’ll explain later.
A particular trigger causes you to push the Play Button of your (corresponding) Thought Movie
In the above example, a pattern may arise that you’ll become immediately annoyed the moment your husband tells you he wants to go out with his friends on the weekend. However, it can also be another situation that triggers you to feel that he is not there for you or your children.
The original feeling of disappointment will immediately reappear in these particular situations, your Thought Movie starts playing again, with the corresponding behavior following automatically.
Your reaction will be to behave remotely and to give extra attention to your children to compensate for the behavior of your husband (who isn’t there for his children).
You might even tell your children that it is annoying that daddy is lying in bed and unable to play a game with them. Which remark will unconsciously influence the bond between father and child.
This is just an example, but you might recognize these patterns in your own life.
Your thoughts determine the quality of your life
Limiting, negative thoughts lead to a life with a lot of resistance, pain, disappointment, anger, and so on. Helping thoughts lead to a life full of love, joy and happiness. A happier life. The good news is that it is a hundred percent up to you! What are you choosing? Which Thought Movie do you choose to play? A miserable or a happy one?
You can decide for yourself how you feel by thinking differently. In my words, choose the right Thought Movie.
You have the power to change your thoughts into positive, helping thoughts that make you feel good.
Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.-Willie Nelson
It is not the situation, but your thoughts
People often think they feel angry or sad because of the situation. ‘It’s because of her that I’m angry’ or ‘He is not nice to me and that’s why I feel sad.’
Yet it is not the event that causes you to feel bad, but how you think about it in such a moment. In my words, which script and ending you are writing for your Thought Movie. Because the same situation can lead to different feelings.
One person can be utterly happy with how a particular person behaves in a certain situation, while another person becomes completely nervous in exactly the same situation, with the same person and the same behavior.
Two types of thoughts
The way in which and what you think (what you say to yourself) determines how you feel and how you behave.
Schematically you can display it like this:
1. Event → 2. Thought(s) → 3. Feeling → 4. Behavior / Consequence
It is important to realize that there is a moment between 2 and 3, between thought and feeling! When you (learn to) capture this moment, you can master your feelings.
I’ll come back on this later.
One and the same event can cause a totally different feeling and reaction because you can interpret the situation in different ways.
How you think about something determines how you feel. What you think and how you feel, determines how you behave. I always distinguish red and green thoughts. Everyone has both thoughts.
Red thoughts are negative thoughts. They are non-helping, destructive thoughts about yourself. Those negative thoughts ensure stress. Stress is not just nerves, but include all the ‘nasty’ feelings, like anger, anxiety, irritation, sadness, insecurity, unhappy, depressed.
Examples of red thoughts are: ‘I can not do that’, ‘Other people do not like me’, ‘It’s always my fault’.
How do you feel when you think: ‘I’m a failure, I cannot do anything right!’ Probably insecure, nervous, depressed and unhappy.
Green thoughts are positive thoughts. They are helping, encouraging thoughts about yourself. They ensure you feel relaxed.
Examples of green thoughts are: ‘I am perfect the way I am’, ‘I am a go-getter’, ‘I can make mistakes, I learn from them’, ‘Others like to deal with me and want to be my friend’.
How do you feel when you think: ‘I did well!’ Probably relaxed, happy and proud.
Turn limiting thoughts into helping thoughts
If you have restrictive (negative) thoughts then they irrevocably lead to negative feelings.
Before you know it, you’ve created your own Horror Thought Movie. The behavior that thereby (unconsciously) arises contributes negatively to the quality of your life.
To change the destructive effect of negative reasoning and make a positive turn, you have to convert limiting thoughts into helping thoughts. Turn your Horror Movie into a Happy Movie.
Negative reasoning: ‘I’m disappointed that he stays out so late and then cannot get out of his bed the next day because of a hangover.’
Helping thought: ‘He only goes out once every two months with his friends, I can imagine that he might need an outlet working as hard as he does.’
Negative reasoning: ‘He rather prefers to go out with his friends than with me. What do we actually have left together?’
Helping thought: ‘I like to go out with him once in a while, that’s what I’m going to propose to him and we’ll plan a date right away.’
Negative reasoning: ‘Like this he is not a nice father for our children.’
Helping thought: ‘He always does nice things with the kids the other weekends. It may not be fair of me to pay him off on the occasional time he ‘is not there’.’
Be aware of your thoughts
If you recognize the thoughts that produce feelings in you, you can turn them into positive thoughts that will subsequently lead to positive feelings.
Between a situation that you experience and the follow-up feeling, there are always one or more thoughts. And that is the moment you can interfere and steer towards a positive feeling! Where you can choose to start playing a positive Thought Movie!
You might not immediately recognize this. Because thoughts can take place very quickly and automatically. You have not thought them ‘consciously’.
People who feel miserable, pessimistic and depressed have the idea that their negative thoughts are correct and that it is ‘right’ that they feel sad. They have the idea that the depressing thoughts are caused by the unpleasant situation and the miserable things that happened to them.
Sometimes that is true. But you can also have unpleasant and unhelpful thoughts about an unpleasant event or situation that make you feel more worse than necessary and make the negative feelings worse, last longer or ever-lasting.
It is therefore important to be aware of your thoughts, to check whether they are correct or not and to learn which thoughts help you and which cause unnecessary stress and unpleasant feelings.
Choose your Thought Movies wisely by NETFLIXING
In my life I’ve learned myself a trick. I use this practice a lot in my coaching sessions, with great result and success.
The clue lies in the fact that your thoughts determine how you feel about something. And when you capture the moment where you are aware of your thought, you can decide whether you want to follow up on that thought or leave it for what it is and not label it.
I’ve learned to be aware of my thoughts. To think in a conscious way. When I notice I’m having negative thoughts or unhelpful reasoning, due to an unpleasant experience or for whatever reason, or just a particular thought I don’t like, I start saying to myself: ‘Ah, THAT’. Nothing more, nothing less.
Because it is just a thought. I’ve probably had that thought before. In my words, played that Thought Movie before. So I just keep on thinking or repeating to myself ‘Ah, THAT; Ah, THAT; Ah, THAT…’
The result is that the unwanted thought doesn’t turn into a negative thought pattern, or as I would call it, an unpleasant, scary or depressing movie.
Because thoughts come and go as you let them pass by in your brain by not labeling them or putting anymore thoughts to it. In my words, create another Thought Movie.
And thinking ‘Ah THAT’ means you’re acknowledging you’re having a thought, but you don’t think much of it. Thinking ‘Ah THAT’ diverts you from the thought, until the thought disappears by itself or changes into another thought.
If a thought appears in your mind, you can choose whether you want to follow up on that thought.
So just keep repeating ‘Ah, THAT’, until the next thought comes along. Because there is always a next thought. Then decide whether you want to pursue that thought (by putting more thoughts to it), before it turns into a Thought Movie in your mind.
Choose the Thought Movie you want to play by NETFLIXING
I call this NETFLIXING. You read the content of a movie or episode, before you press play, and if you don’t like it, you decide to not let it play. Until you find a thought that produces a wonderful movie in your head!
When I’m doing ‘THAT’ and I’m NETFLIXING, it always produces a big smile on my face.
It certainly made my life a happier life!
Enjoy trying it out!