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shifting thought basics: a conversation

The power of being able to shift thought. When you have important relationships (such as with a partner or spouse, children, parents, or coworkers) that seem stuck, that seem like they’ll just continue to stay the same or get worse, what can you do? When you keep feeling separate yet what you really want is to experience greater connection, what can you do?


It’s clear we can’t change others, or make them be who we want them to be. But we can change ourselves. Change begins with looking at our own thoughts. Our current thinking is often habitual, reactive, and tends to create the same results over and over.


So we raise these questions with you: What do you do when you’re stuck or are going around in unhealthy circles with yourself or others: Do you judge and blame yourself or them? Do you justify your behavior? Do you consider thinking about what you could do to change?


To begin, notice your thoughts: Shifting thoughts begins with being able to notice your own self-talk—your own thoughts. Our inner world influences and determines our thoughts. These thoughts are either conscious (we’re fully aware of them) or semi-conscious (we are marginally aware of them). We experience thoughts as self-talk. We all have conversations with ourselves that go on all day, every day. When we notice our own self-talk, we have a chance to acknowledge two powerful events:

  1. Thoughts are going on inside our minds all the time; and

  2. At any time—at any moment—we have the capacity to notice what we’re saying to ourselves.


Stop and listen. Take a moment right now to notice what you’re saying to yourself, the thoughts going through your mind, as you read this. Our mind speaks volumes all the time. Take a look at the Shifting Thought Model also included, to see a visual picture of shifting thought.


Pause and ask: What happens when you stop and notice your thoughts in the moment? There are no right or wrong answers here—just the chance to be honest with yourself.


It can be both powerful and scary. Thoughts are the raw material of our hopes, dreams, and beliefs. Thoughts create monsters and angels; create blocks and new opportunities. Thoughts determine our behavior and the results can be seen in our relationships. Thoughts are based on fear or love. 


We hope that once you begin to notice your self-talk and realize how powerful it is, you might become more curious about what thought is and how it works. No one can make you become curious. However, when you become genuinely curious, the world of thought will likely open up to you. The world of shifting thought is powerful enough to change your life, beliefs, reactivity, and habits.


Summary: Shifting beliefs starts with hearing your self-talk, your own thoughts—noticing how you’re thinking, feeling, and reacting. It’s being willing to look at the results of your behavior in one important relationship, and deciding to notice (observe) your own thinking about the relationship for a few minutes, an hour, a day, a week. What patterns of thought do you see? What emotions keep coming up?


When you are willing to pause and look at your own thinking, when you begin to see you have the power to choose thought, you enter into the powerful experience of being able to shift thought. It is a world of experiencing that you have conscious choices about the thoughts that go through your mind.

It is a world of discovering and owning your own thought. It can be transformative for you and for your relationships.

©2020. Center for Self-Sustaining Leadership (CSL). No copy may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, including photocopying without permission in writing from CSL. (802) 229-1908