You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 13. Today, I’m going to tell you the truth about your thoughts. You ready? Let’s go.
Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.
Hello, how are you? Is your week going well? I sure hope so. Everything is going swimmingly over here. I’m back in “the mitten,” and I’ve settled back into my routine, after returning home from my trip to Connecticut. I told you guys that I went there to present a CLE presentation for a group of family law attorneys. It was a really great success.
I got to present for such an incredible group of lawyers. It was such a pleasure teaching them all about how to feel better, and simplify their lives so they can have less stress and more fulfillment, and achieve some of the balance that they’re looking for. So, that went really well.
One of the things that was wild… Because I haven’t been around a group of attorneys in person, where I got to really see them talk about their practice, and the different skills, and all of that, in a while. It was so inspiring to see such a passionate group of attorneys really committed to practicing at the highest level.
There was a lot of talk about what they need to do in particular cases, with particular sets of facts, how their appellate practice could be improved, how to bring an expert. It was just really neat to see people that committed to excellence, I really loved it.
The rest of my trip was also amazing. I bopped around Connecticut, and I even made it to part of Rhode Island. I ate lots of seafood. I love seafood! Oysters are some of my favorites, especially from the East Coast, and peel and eat shrimp. They were so good.
I also stumbled upon this adorable little town called Mystic, and had the chance of exploring the most incredible bookstore. I really love bookstores. So, I stocked up and bought a ton of stuff there.
And then, after bopping around Connecticut and Rhode Island, going to the beach, and exploring, I went to visit a really good friend of mine from law school. I got the chance to have dinner with her and her husband, and I got to meet their daughter for the first time.
I also pulled off the successful delivery of a giant, and when I mean giant, I mean a seven-foot teddy bear, which is a signature move of mine. When my friends or family members have kids, I always buy them an extravagant teddy bear. So, I had to do it for this friend and her little one. I’m all for being the impractical, over-the-top aunt. So, mission accomplished there.
I’m happy to be back, and back in the swing of things with working with my clients and recording this podcast. Alright, to help, I have brought you up to speed about what I’ve been up to since the last time we spoke, and I’ve given you a highlight reel of my trip to the East Coast.
Let’s talk about today’s topic. We’re talking about the truth, the cold, hard truth about your thoughts. I’ve talked a lot about thoughts lately in some of the past episodes. But I wanted to record an episode, specifically on this issue, to drive home a specific point, in case, from what I’ve already said on this subject, it hasn’t made it abundantly clear.
Here’s what I want to make abundantly clear, now. Your thoughts are not true. What?! I know, shocker. I’m kind of being funny here, but that might actually be super shocking for you listening to this. You might be like, “Oh my goodness, I think every sentence that runs through my head is true. I always believe the thoughts that I think. I always believe the beliefs, and the thoughts that my brain serves up to me,” right? Like, why would your brain choose them if they weren’t true? That’s how a lot of people think.
But I want to offer you, that that’s not actually the case. Your thoughts aren’t true. Facts are true. Facts, and we’ve gone through this several times, now, facts are circumstances. So, facts are true. Circumstances are true. Circumstances are just facts that we would all agree upon. Those circumstances, those facts don’t cause how we feel, our thoughts cause how we feel. So, we don’t feel a particular way about a fact, until we think a thought about it.
A lot of people go through life believing that the thoughts they think about facts are true, but they’re not. Thoughts aren’t facts. Facts are true, thoughts are thoughts. Thoughts are subjective statements. Thoughts are opinions. Thoughts are beliefs. Beliefs are just thoughts, that goes back and forth.
Again, thoughts and beliefs aren’t true. They’re just opinions that you’ve thought many times. Frequently, those beliefs may feel true to you, but they aren’t actually true. They’re subjective, they’re opinions.
What does this mean? Here’s what this means, you don’t have to believe every sentence that runs through your head. Just because you think a thought, doesn’t mean you need to keep choosing it. Your brain is going to serve you up some crazy thoughts.
I tell my clients this all the time, I tell them that their brains are not always their best friends. Oftentimes, the opposite is true. Your brain is actually working against you, preventing you from accomplishing what you want to accomplish, what you want to be doing, what would set you up for success.
So, your brain is going to serve you up some crazy thoughts sometimes, some lies, some statements that are not true. I want to offer this to you; you can just dismiss them. You don’t have to buy into those thoughts with your belief. You don’t have to make them mean anything. Those thoughts are just opinions, and you get to choose which thoughts you think. Alright?
The key here, is to become aware of what you’re thinking, so you can decide whether or not you want to keep choosing it. If you don’t want to keep choosing it, then what you’re going to want to do is find a different thought, that feels believable to you, that you can practice thinking instead.
This isn’t like positive affirmations, where you’re telling yourself something that you don’t believe. You want to find another thought, that feels believable to you, that you can practice thinking instead. To do this, you want to become an observer of yourself, and of your brain, and of the thoughts it serves up to you.
I like to think about this visually. I’m in my body, I’m sitting here in my chair in front of my computer, and I’m thinking thoughts. Then, it’s like I leave my body… Almost like in the movie Ghost, with Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze, it’s like how they are. Where he’s separate from her and standing over her as she’s communicating with people. Even though people can’t see him, he is essentially hovering over her shoulder observing her and what she’s thinking, what she’s telling other people, that’s going to be you. You want to become an observer of your brain.
So, there’s you that’s existing in the world and going through your life thinking thoughts, and then you want to leave your body and hover over your shoulder. Kind of like a backseat driver, so to speak. And, just observe what’s going on in that head of yours.
What are you thinking? What thoughts is your brain serving up to you? Just noticing what’s going on, but creating some distance and some separation from your brain and the thoughts that it’s serving you, from what you’re thinking. You just want to start to observe. “Oh, my brain’s thinking this right now. Oh, I’m thinking this thought right now. Oh, this is how I’m looking at this situation,” rather than being in the situation. You want to observe your thoughts.
Then from there, as you’re standing over your shoulder, saying, “Oh, wow. You’re thinking this right now, about this particular fact, about this particular circumstance,” you can start to pepper your thoughts with questions. Questions like: Is that thought true? Spoiler alert, the answer’s always no. But asking yourself, why is it not true? Starting to search for the ways that it’s not true.
Asking yourself, does this thought serve me? Do I benefit from choosing to think this, from continuing to think this? Why is my brain serving this thought up to me, right now? Try and make it make sense. Is my brain pretending to protect me from something, by serving me up this thought? Do I want to keep thinking this thought? Does it make sense for me?
Does it support me and what I want to accomplish? And, if the answer’s no, it doesn’t, you want to ask yourself, “What might I choose to think instead? “What are some other thoughts that are available to me, here?” Without anything changing, without the circumstance being any different than it is right now. Without anyone doing or saying anything differently. The exact status quo. What could I choose to think about this instead?
Again, I cannot over emphasize the fact that your brain is not your best friend. It will tell you lies. It will sell you snake oil in an effort to convince you to seek pleasure, conserve energy, and avoid immediate discomfort. Right? It will do its damnedest to get you to preserve the status quo, because that’s what it perceives as safe. So, it will tell you lies that will cause you to hide, avoid, hesitate, spin, indulge in inaction, stay in confusion, all of that.
The thoughts that are driving all of that negative behavior, they are not true. So, you don’t have to choose to think them anymore. You can interrupt the process and choose to think something else. Now, it’s important to know that your brain, even though it’s not your best friend, it’s doing this because it thinks it’s helpful.
One of the reasons that we worry so much, is because your brain is trying to protect you from being caught off guard. It’s trying to solve, ahead of time, for every possible scenario in an effort to keep you safe. That just tends to be really unhelpful. So, we worry ahead of time, I like to say, “We borrow trouble,” when we don’t need to.
I’m going to sound like a complete law nerd here, but I always like to think about this in terms of mootness and ripeness. Is this issue ripe to worry about? What are these thoughts based upon? Where am I coming from? Where are these thoughts coming from? All of these questions are so important. And, you want to start to ask them of the thoughts that you’re observing yourself think, to start to unpack and dismantle your belief in them, if believing these thoughts does not serve you, okay?
Worry pretends to feel protective and productive, very rarely, is it. So, you just want to keep that in mind. The negative thoughts that your brain serves up to you, whether they be worrisome thoughts, or just negative thoughts, self-doubting thoughts, any of that, your brain’s doing it as a survival mechanism. But just because it does this, as a survival mechanism, does not mean the thoughts that your brain serves up to you are right, correct, or true. Alright?
Now, one of the things that I hear from people all the time, they’ll say to me, “Well, my thoughts feel true for me.” I just want to let you know that line of thinking about your thoughts, that your brain is serving up to you, it’s really unhelpful. Okay, I know that may feel accurate, that your thoughts do feel true for you. They feel unchangeable. They feel fixed. They feel like there’s no other option but for you to think these thoughts. I get that; you’ve been conditioned, to think about the way that you think, your entire life.
But thinking about your thoughts in this manner is not helpful, because you’re using language that conflates truth, as in what’s factually true, with your opinion. Again, opinions are not true. They’re not facts, they’re opinions.
Now, a really good rule of thumb is for you to ask yourself, “Would everyone in the whole entire world agree that this thought is true? Is it possible that someone, somewhere could disagree that this thought’s true?”
If everyone in the whole world wouldn’t agree, and if there’s one person that could possibly, even if you don’t know who that person is, but hypothetically speaking, someone could disagree with you, then the thought is not true. It’s not a fact, it’s a thought. It’s an opinion, and it’s not true. If it’s a belief, it’s not true. Facts are true. Circumstances are true. Thoughts aren’t true.
I know this might seem redundant, but I’m going to drill it into your heads because this is so life changing, once you realize your thoughts are not true. That you get to choose which ones you want to think. You can pick the ones that serve you more than the ones that don’t serve you. It’s so life changing.
When you say something is true for you… Like some people have come to me and said, “Well, I think this is true, for me. This feels true for me.” What happens is you stop exploring and observing that thought, from a place of curiosity. You don’t engage in the process of seeing the situation from a different vantage point. You basically throw a wrench in the gears.
You don’t examine how other thoughts, and therefore other feelings and actions, may be accessible to you, if you were able to access different thoughts. You just stop the inquiry before you even start it. You resign yourself to continuing on with that line of thinking, how that line of thinking makes you feel, and show up, and the results that it ultimately produces.
Normally, and I’m saying this to you with love, but normally, there’s also a little bit of victimhood that appears here, too. When you’re saying, “Well, this just feels true for me. This thought feels true for me,” you basically throw your hands up in the air and say, “This emotional experience is happening to me. Because these thoughts are true for me, and I can’t do anything about them.” That is never the case. You can always do something.
The question is: Do you want to? Do you want to explore what you’re thinking? Examine how it isn’t true? And, work intentionally, to choose thoughts that serve you, more than the default thoughts your brain served up to you? Do you want to do that? That’s the more important question to answer here. You can always do something about the negative thoughts you’re thinking. The question is, do you want to?
Which brings me to the other thing I hear people say every so often. People will tell me, “I can’t just choose what I think.” And with love, I’m calling bullshit. Yes, I promise you, you can. You can choose what you think. But it is a skill that you build through practice.
You will get very good at choosing the thoughts you want to think intentionally. You will become an expert at choosing thoughts that serve you, more than the default thoughts that your brain serves up to you. But that will come through practicing choosing different thoughts, choosing better thoughts. You have to practice building this skill.
I’m going to record a specific episode on that process, so you can follow it to a tee and master the art of choosing thoughts that serve you, instead of the negative default thoughts that your brain serves up to you. It will enable you to master this process. But for now, know that you absolutely can choose what you think. Okay?
The other thing that I want you to consider here, and give some thought to, is how do you show up when it comes to examining your thinking, and working to find thoughts that you believe that better support you, when you think you can’t choose what you think? The answer is you don’t show up and examine your thinking, and work to find thoughts that you believe that better support you instead. The answer is you don’t. You give up before you get started on the thought-work, on that inquiry process.
When you believe you can choose what you think, you engage in that process. You examine your thinking. You start to work to find thoughts that serve you instead, that are believable to you. So, choosing to believe that you can change what you think is crucial here. I just want you to sit with that and start to find evidence to support that belief, that you can choose what you think.
Think about other times, where at one time you thought one thing, and then without anything changing, you eventually thought something else. Maybe you gained more information on that change, but the circumstances themselves did not change, and you just thought about it differently over time. Right?
Sometimes this process happens naturally, organically, unintentionally. Maybe time passes, and we just start to think about things differently. What we once thought was a big deal, we no longer consider to be a big deal. That’s happening under the surface, right?
We’re changing our thoughts, unconsciously or subconsciously. All that does, though, is evidence that you can do this consciously, too. That’s the point of thought-work. It happens naturally. In certain instances, we can make it happen in every instance, intentionally. If we practice examining our thinking, dismantling the thoughts, proving them false, proving that they’re not true, figuring out what we can think instead, and supporting an argument with evidence that we can find in, our lives, to support our new belief.
We also think multiple thoughts about facts. So, not only can you choose one or the other, you can swap thoughts in and out, replace one with another. But you can also think multiple thoughts about certain facts. You can decide that you want to focus on certain thoughts more than other thoughts. You might be thinking them all at the same time, but you want to focus your attention on some versus others. Okay?
I want to have you think about this like an hors d’oeuvre tray, at a party. Think about a caterer waiter that’s walking around with that tray, and on that tray, there’s a bunch of different options to choose from. You’ve got many caprese skewers, maybe beef tartare on a crostini, maybe you’ve got spring rolls, shrimp cocktail, a miniature taco, bacon wrapped dates, any of these things. They’re all on the tray. You’ve got all these different options that you get to choose from.
Now, none of the hors d’oeuvres are right or wrong. That being said, you might have a preference. You might like some more than you like others, but none of them are right or wrong. You simply may have a preference.
The same thing is true about our thoughts. They aren’t right or wrong, they aren’t true or false. You get to have a preference, though. And, you get to choose different ones off the hors d’oeuvre platter, based on what you want to experience and accomplish. So, you get to decide how you want to feel. And then, you get to decide what you want to think in order to make sure you feel that way.
Now, I want to walk you through my favorite example of this. Let’s say you have plans with a friend, and your friend texts you an hour before you’re supposed to meet and cancels. The text simply says, “Hey, I’m sorry, I can’t make it.” You have a tray full of thought-options to choose from, just like with the hors d’oeuvre platter being carried by the caterer waiter at the party.
You might think, “How rude! This person clearly doesn’t respect my time.” If you’re thinking that thought you’ll probably feel really disrespected. So, that’s one option on the hors d’oeuvre platter. You can pick that up and have a bite of it, and you’ll feel disrespected.
You might think instead, “Oh, no. I hope I didn’t do something that upset them.” If you were thinking that thought, you might feel really worried. So, that’s another hors d’oeuvre platter option. Instead, you might be thinking, “I hope everything’s okay with them.” If you were thinking that thought, you might feel a little concerned. That’s another option on the tray.
Or you could think, “You know, I know how busy they are. So, this is understandable.” You might feel really understanding if that’s the thought that you choose to think instead. You could think, “Oh, man, I was really looking forward to getting together,” and feel a little bummed when you think that thought. You might think, “No big deal. We’ll just rain check,” and feel really unbothered, you just let it roll off your shoulders.
Or, this tends to be really common among a lot of my clients. They think something along the lines of, “Oh, thank God! I did not feel like going,” and then they feel really relieved. Okay, I just went through seven different thought options for you, to choose from the thought hors d’oeuvre plan. matter.
None of these thoughts are right or wrong. None of them are truer than the others. They’re all optional, they’re simply different. You get to choose one thought over the other, or you can choose to think a combination of them, up to you. Based on the choice you make, you’re going to feel a different feeling, right? So, you want to make sure you choose wisely.
Again, I want to highlight here, you get to choose. There are seven options there, none of them are more appropriate or accurate than any of the others. You get to choose the emotional experience you want by choosing the thought intentionally.
Here are some other thoughts that I thought it would be helpful to run through quickly, to help you see that it’s not just that instance, the friend texted you an hour before you’re supposed to meet up, where your thoughts aren’t true, that this applies across the board.
Let’s take the thought, “I should be further along.” This is a very common thought that people think about their lives, about the results they have, about where they’re at, and it’s a really painful thought. People tend to feel really beholden to it. They tell themselves or they tell me that this thought feels very true for them. It feels like a fact. But then I dig deeper, and I ask them some questions about this thought. If you think this thought, I want you to answer these same questions, okay?
We can start to see that the thought, “I should be further along,” really isn’t true. Start by getting very specific: Where do you think you should be right now? What results do you think you should have, that you don’t? Again, be as specific as possible. What would you have needed to do to create those results and get to that place?
Again, be as specific as possible here. List out all of the actions that you would have needed to take, and all of the actions you would have needed to refrain from taking, and write them all down.
Then, write out all the things you’ve been doing, instead. All of the things that have produced the results that you currently have, all of the action, positive or negative, and all of the inaction. Write that all out too. Again, be as specific as possible.
Then, compare them; the list of actions, that you would have needed to take in order to produce the results you want and get where you think you should be. And, the list of actions, or inaction, that you’ve been operating in, that you’ve taken, that you’ve done, that’s created your current results. Do those lists match? The answer is likely, no, they don’t. Of course, they don’t. Right? If they did match, you’d be where you think you should be. You’d have the results that you think that you should have.
Now, one small caveat here; if the lists do match, and you’re simply mistaken about what it takes to create the results you want and get where you want to go, then you need to reassess and tweak your action plan in order to get where you want to go and where you think you should be. But that is 1,000%, a caveat here. That, usually, is not the case.
Usually, your action lists will not match, they won’t even be close. Normally, the actions that you would need to take, and the actions that you have taken, don’t look anything alike.
Then, the thoughts, this is also important, the thoughts you’ve been thinking, that have been fueling the action you’ve been taking, also don’t match the thoughts you would have needed to think, to take the necessary action, that would have been required to produce the results you want.
So, none of it is matching. The actions aren’t matching, the thoughts aren’t matching, and based on the thoughts you’ve been thinking, and the actions you’ve been taking or haven’t been taking, you should be exactly where you are.
If your actions don’t match, you should have the exact results that you have. This should all make sense. So, it’s not true that you should be further along. You should be exactly be where you are right now. If you think you should be further along, I want you to examine that, because that thought is never true.
Another thought that’s very common is the thought, “This shouldn’t be happening.” This thought isn’t true, either. Why? Because whatever it is you’re thinking it about, whatever the facts are, it is happening. They are happening. It did happen. This, again, is such a painful thought, that something that has happened shouldn’t be happening.
So, it’s never true that it shouldn’t be happening if it did. Instead of choosing this thought, accept that it’s happening, and then inquire why it’s happening; get curious and gain understanding.
Another example of a thought that’s not true, is the thought, “It’s disrespectful to comment on someone’s appearance.” This may feel true for you, but again, it isn’t objectively true. People get to disagree here; the circumstance would be, that a person makes a comment about your appearance. If you’re thinking that people shouldn’t do that, because it’s disrespectful, you’ll probably feel offended.
But the thought that it’s disrespectful to comment on someone’s appearance, is not true. There are lots of different ways you could think about it. If a person makes a comment about your appearance, you could think that the person was trying to be helpful. If you thought that, you might feel appreciative. If you thought that they were criticizing you, you might feel judged. The list can go on and on.
None of these thoughts are right or wrong, or true or false. They’re just opinions. They’re just subjective statements. You get to choose the one that best serves you. Now, you may want to choose to think that it’s disrespectful to comment on someone’s appearance. So, when you’re on the receiving end of that, you might choose to think that thought, and you might choose to feel offended. But it’s important to note that it’s just your opinion. That opinion is not true.
You might think the thought that good friends help you when you ask them for help. Is this thought true? No. Again, just an opinion. It might be an opinion that leads you to feeling really good, when people’s behavior aligns with that thought. It might be a painful opinion to hold when people’s behavior conflicts with this thought.
Regardless, you can keep choosing this or you can choose to think that people can say no and still be a good friend, that both things get to be true. You don’t have to choose to think that good friends always help when you ask them to; up to you, it’s just neither true or false.
You might think that people shouldn’t steal. Right? So, the circumstance would be someone stealing. You might think the thought, “People shouldn’t steal.” Maybe you want to choose to think this thought, and believe this belief. Maybe it aligns with your values, that’s fine. The question here is… Is the thought true, that people shouldn’t steal? No, it’s not true. It’s merely an opinion.
Some people think that they should steal, for various reasons. Maybe they think stealing is okay, if you’re doing it to provide for yourself or your loved ones. If you don’t have the means to otherwise provide for them. Some people might think that stealing isn’t a big deal, if you’re stealing from big corporations that are very profitable and have the money to foot the loss.
People get to think about stealing, differently. No one is right or wrong. Regardless of what opinion they hold about stealing, they’re just holding different opinions.
Another thought people love to think, is the thought that they are a failure, or that they failed. Again, this thought isn’t true, either. The thought that you failed, that you are failing, or that you are a failure, or that something you did amounts to a failure, is simply, always that, just a thought. It’s not a fact.
There’s going to be a circumstance about which you think amounts to a failure. So, it might be you didn’t reach a goal. You set out to make X number of dollars or sign X number of clients, and you didn’t do it. You wanted to make partner, and they didn’t pick you this year. You wanted to get a promotion, and you didn’t get it. Those are the facts. You get to choose what you make it mean. Choosing to think that you’ve failed or that you are a failure is optional, it is not true.
Also, when you use the phrase, “I’m a failure,” to describe yourself, it assumes you’re a failure at all things, all the time. Right? That’s a very general statement, “I’m a failure,” which again, is not true. It’s an overgeneralization.
So, you get to tell a different story if you want to. Show how the opposite is true, how the opposite is also plausible. How is it true that you’re a success? What evidence do you have to support the belief that you’re a success? When have you done something successfully? What have you accomplished? Where have you not failed?
Build that body of evidence to support a belief to the contrary, to support a belief that you are not a failure, and that you have not failed. You also get to decide what constitutes failure. You get to decide that for yourself, which is so fun. There is no failure police who decides it, once and for all, for everyone. Failure is subjective. What amounts to a failure and what doesn’t, is up to you. You get to decide whether you’ve done it or not.
I choose to believe that failure is not even an option. I don’t like to think that I failed at something, or that failure is even on the table, or that it’s possible. I choose instead, to think you’re always winning or learning. And, in every instance, even if I miss the mark and don’t achieve a goal that I was hoping to achieve, I search for evidence to prove my belief in that statement, true. If I didn’t win, what did I learn?
A couple other thoughts here: the thought, “I’m not good enough.” Again, that’s also not going to be true. It’s subjective. That’s your opinion. There are so many questions that we need to ask, in order to even understand what that’s premised upon, and what that means.
You’re not good enough at what? What’s good enough? According to who? Who gets to decide that? Could everyone agree that you’re not good enough? Of course not. People are going to have differing opinions there. Could someone, on the face of the earth, hypothetically disagree? Yes, of course they could. This thought is so subjective. It’s not true, it’s optional. So, why choose to think it about yourself? It doesn’t accomplish anything good.
I frequently encounter clients who have thoughts, something akin to, “I deserve to get paid more.” Again, this is another very painful thought. And, it might feel super true to you, but the issue here is with the word deserve. What you deserve, or what you are entitled to, is always going to be a subjective opinion, never a fact.
The facts here would be: How much money you make, how much your colleagues make, maybe what the industry average is, what someone promised to pay you, what they actually paid you, all of those things. How much the company makes compared to your salary, how profitable you are, those are all data points.
Then, you think a thought about them, a thought like, “I deserve to make more.” That thought is not true. Not everyone would agree upon it. Some people might think that you deserve to make exactly the salary that you agreed to make when you accepted your offer to work there.
What’s more accurate, than saying, “I deserve to make more,” is the thought, “I want to make more.” But not everyone will agree that you deserve to. Not everyone would agree that you even want to. Because if you’re choosing to stay there, is it true that you really want to make more, if that’s not possible where you’re currently employed?
Maybe you want to stay and maintain the status quo, more than you want to make more money. This is an opinion, it’s not true or false. It’s just subjective. Now, if other people think that you don’t deserve more, they’re not right or wrong, and neither are you. There are simply different viewpoints about your salary.
What changes, about your experience at your job, when you switch to, “I want to make more money,” versus, “I deserve to make more money?” How does your experience change when you go from, “I want to make more money,” to, “I am going to make more money?” Three different thoughts, totally different experience. You get to choose which one to think. Ask yourself, which thought empowers you more? I promise you; it will be the latter.
Lastly, I hear this all the time from clients, it’s the thought, “I have to get this done today.” That may feel very true for you, that you have to get something done, but technically, you don’t. I always tell people, “There’s only four things you ever have to do: Eat infrequently, drink water, breathe, and sleep. If it’s not one of those four things, you technically do not have to do it.”
There may be a consequence attached with not doing whatever you’re telling yourself you have to do today. But it is always an option for you to not do it. You may suffer a negative consequence, that may absolutely be true. However, you don’t have to do it. It is optional.
So, if you catch yourself thinking that, on a day-to-day basis, and it leads to feeling a lot of pressure or overwhelm, you just want to check in with yourself and know that thought isn’t true. You don’t have to get this done today. A more accurate thought is, “I want to get this done today.” And then, you can figure out all of the reasons why it is you want to get it done.
These are all great examples that demonstrate how our thoughts are not true. That our thoughts are subjective, they’re opinion statements, they are not facts. And even better, you get to think thoughts that are different than the default thoughts that your brain serves up to you. That process starts with observing your current thoughts and peppering them with the questions I gave you earlier.
So, what I want you to do, this week, is write down a couple of negative thoughts that you’re currently thinking. Find the circumstance that you’re thinking about. Get very clear on what the facts are. And then, separate the facts from the thoughts that you’re thinking about them, and go through these questions: Is this thought true? Answer’s always no. How might it not be true? Make the argument. Ask yourself, what else could you think about this, instead? Find how that thought, your original thought, might be false, and figure out other thoughts that are available to you.
A couple other fun questions I want you to mull over: What will you do differently, now that you know your thoughts aren’t true? What thoughts have you been thinking that you want to change first, and replace with different options? And lastly, what becomes available to you, and possible for you, when you open yourself up to the truth, the cold, hard truth that your thoughts, in fact, are not true? I assure you; it changes everything in the best way imaginable.
Alright, that’s what I’ve got for you this week. I will talk to you in the next episode. Have a beautiful week.
Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.