Our brain is wired for negativity, this is called the negativity bias. It will feed us tens of thousands of thoughts per day and most of them will be negative.
You can think of it like a toddler driving 100 miles an hour on the highway. They would be completely out of control and crazy. That is what our brain can feel like when we don’t learn the tools to manage it.
If you’re wanting to get back in the driver’s seat, it starts with awareness. It is fairly easy to strive to be introspective, that is, to start thinking about ourselves and our own thinking, but it gives a whole new layer of awareness when we write it down.
That is the secret sauce of mind management. You cannot just think it…you must write it down!
There are a few different ways of thought-journaling. We can write about our day and analyze how we are showing up and what stories we are telling ourselves. We can also start a gratitude journal and focus on all of the things we have and we are grateful for. This practice really helps with an abundance mindset!
However, my very favorite thought-journaling technique, and the first coaching tool that I use with all of my clients, is called a Thought Dump. It’s such an effective way of gaining awareness about what we are thinking and how it’s affecting us.
All it takes is 3 simple steps:
1) Write out ALL of your thoughts on paper.
The key to this is there must be no judgement. Don’t look through those thoughts, as you’re writing them down, and think. Period. Don’t think. Just allow the thoughts to flow out of you.
Picture this step as if you were sitting in a movie theatre, at the end of a show, and looking up at the credits rolling. You just sit there, the credits roll up, you notice them and jot them down.
That’s what it’s like with our thoughts. Sit down, notice them, and write them down.
2) Sort out the thoughts from the facts.
This step seems small, but it’s actually hugely important. What is a fact? It’s something everyone can agree upon. Think of this as if a video camera were capturing everything going on during your day…whatever it captures are the facts. What happens around us, the things people say and do, etc.
Thoughts are everything else. They are not the facts. They are literally just words in our mind. Now look back at your writing from step one and as you read through it circle the thoughts and underline the facts.
The final step in the Thought Dump is to go through each thought and ask yourself some powerful questions:
How does this feel?
Is this really true?
Is it useful?
Is it going to help me show up as the person I want to be?
Is there another way to view this story?
Try this exercise a few times, it will get easer as you do it! Schedule 5 minutes in your day a few times a week to complete it. Notice what happens when you use the secret sauce mind management technique. What interesting insights did you find? Remember, awareness starts with YOU, not THEM!