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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of shifting your thinking.
I’ve written in the past about shifting my own thinking from “I have to…” to “I GET to…” I also wrote last week about my shifting my thinking on time from “It’s happening to me…,” to “It’s happening FOR me…”
Shifting your thoughts can shift your perception of a person, of a place, of an event, or most importantly, of yourself. How you view yourself is truly dependent on how you think about yourself and your life.
Do you see yourself as a victim? If so, try shifting to survivor. Tell yourself, “I am a survivor.” Just use the word over and over again.
Do you see yourself as weak and indecisive? Then tell yourself that you are brave, clear and confident instead.
Do you see yourself as someone over the hill and no longer relevant? Then shift your take on that, too. Tell yourself, “I’m in my prime. This is my time. It’s my moment and what I have to say needs to be said, heard and validated.” Say this out loud. Say it clearly and confidently.
Shifting your internal language is powerful. I know this because I’ve done it myself. To be honest, there have been times in my life when I thought my voice didn’t matter. When I should have spoken up, but didn’t. When I thought, “others know more than me, so why should I share my perspective?” There have also been times when I thought, “God, if I say this or that, there will be hell to pay…”
But I’ve discovered that just because someone knows more than you about a particular topic, that doesn’t mean your voice isn’t worth using. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t speak up. (I’ve discovered this first-hand in the world of Alzheimer’s research. Everyone said women weren’t more vulnerable to the disease and that I was crazy for having that hunch. But guess what? I was right and they were wrong!)
Let’s be clear. No one has your voice. No one has your opinion. No one has your individual take. Your take on life is just as valid and just as important as someone else’s. Yes, that’s true.
Even if someone else appears to be smarter or more powerful, it’s important to shift your thinking away from “Who do I think I am?” to “I am smart and powerful, too, and what I have to say is useful, interesting, and maybe even life-changing for another person.”
That shift in thinking could just change someone’s life. (Kim Kardashian West did that this week when people ridiculed her for speaking up about prison reform and pushing the president to commute the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson. They said, “Who does she think she is?” Well, Kim didn’t pay attention to that, and whatever you think of her, she effectively used her voice and her power to change the life of someone else.)
So, imagine how you can do that with your own voice. Imagine what speaking up can do for someone else, or for yourself and your own life narrative. Imagine that you tell your survivor story, not your victim story. Imagine telling others what it’s really like for your family to be affected by Alzheimer’s, instead of hiding and hoping no one will find out. Imagine sharing your story, and in turn, finding your worth and finding your “I AM.” (Listen to my radio interview with OnBeing’s Krista Tippett this week on how I’ve done that in my own life.)
Not too long ago, I made a mental folder of negative thoughts that I was carrying around with me. Several of the descriptors came from other people and I had taken them on as my own. They weren’t serving me at all, and in fact, they were adversely affecting me and harming my sense of self.
I filed them away under other people’s names (which is where they belonged) and put them into storage in the back of my mind. If these thoughts try to come up, then I very consciously shift them away. And, guess what? I immediately feel freer, lighter and more confident.