When we change our thoughts, we can change our lives. How we think often becomes our reality, even if our thoughts constitute a false belief. Often, knowing what’s real and what’s not real is difficult—the rational versus the irrational. Thinking that is consistent with known facts is rational thinking. Irrational thinking is thinking that is inconsistent with (or unsupported by) known facts.
Irrational thinking is thinking in which the thinker completely disregards reason and logic in favor of emotion. The irrational thinker, overwhelmed by the emotional tension of the situation, decides without mental clarity or sound reasoning. An example of an irrational thinker is Lola, who once told me, “I’m always broke and I always will be,” as tears flowed down her cheeks.
No, this is not a fact; the thought is based on emotion. Lola is a respected, highly sought criminal attorney who actually makes a great deal of money.
So why does Lola feel she’s too late to stop worrying about not having enough money? The answer is that she obsesses over the notion she’s broke. She’s not. Lola spends too much money and never saves, never. Once she changes her behavior with money, she will stop the inability to save. That’s the fact. That she will always be poor is an irrational, unsupported belief —unless she continues to believe this thought.
Remember the old saying, change your thoughts, change your life.
Lola challenged her irrational thinking by changing the internal conversation to, I earn plenty of money, and it flows right into my savings, only to grow. Or she repeated in her mind, I’m a saver, I have plenty. And she had plenty when she saved and lived more simply. Lola thought because she was in her fifties, she was too late to achieve the life she wanted, but soon learned it was never too late to change her relationship with money by first changing her irrational thoughts to rational thoughts.
Byron Katie, an American speaker and author, teaches a method of self-inquiry known as “The Work of Byron Katie,” a four-step method for questioning our thought. The practice is best described in Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, which was a godsend for me in my earlier years working through my own negative thinking.
The suggestions Byron Katie makes are not necessarily for turning negative thoughts into positive thoughts but rather for questioning how accurate these thoughts might be.
The four questions posed in Byron Katie’s book are:
1. Is it true?
2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do I react when I believe that thought?
4. Who would I be without the thought? Or, how would I feel
if I didn’t have the thought?
These are simple yet powerful questions that ask whether a thought is an accurate assessment. Often after running through the questions, we will find the thought is not correct. It comes from our unconscious minds (drunken monkeys) whispering and at times screeching false information that we’re accepting as real. We need mental “reset” buttons to turn around this negative chatter. The reboot questions the statement with another, more-probing investigation, free from faulty jargon.
How do you know if your thoughts are rational or irrational? Ask yourself. Is this thought based on facts? In Lola’s case, she believed she would be broke for the rest of her life. I asked her if she could answer yes to this belief based on facts. If yes, it could be rational. She answered no.
My next question to Lola was, “Does this thought that you will be broke for the rest of your life achieve your goal?”
Lola paused for a moment then whispered, “No,” realizing her goal was not to be broke. She understood if she continued to believe her irrational thought that she’d be broke all the remaining days of her life, she’d never achieve her dream of saving, buying a house, and living free of money worries.
I then asked Lola an ultimate question: “Does your thought of being broke the rest of your life help you feel the way you want to feel?” Another no. She wanted to feel good about her relationship with money and the life she’d be living in the future. She didn’t want to feel defeated every waking moment as she had been feeling. She wanted to be free from this obsession.
Immediately, I saw the shift in Lola’s eyes to a positive acceptance of this information. Lola realized her answers were repeatedly no, hence, irrational. Lola, for the first time, grasped the difference between irrational beliefs and rational beliefs. The concept suddenly made perfect sense to her. Lola couldn’t answer as a positive fact that she’d be broke all the days of her life. She also couldn’t bear the thought of being broke forever, as it wouldn’t meet her goals. And this negative thought wasn’t helping her feel the way she wanted to feel—relief from worrying about money.
So “I’m always going to be broke” needs to be transformed from a negative to a positive to turn it around, Lola learned.
So, the “I am broke” belief made no rational sense because Lola was a top earner. She didn’t know how to live within her means, however, or perhaps below her means to save and get out of debt. She made more money than she had bills. She learned this negative thought didn’t make her feel the way she wanted to feel. Her thinking was negative and sprouted more negative thoughts.
I know plenty of people who, by most people’s standards, live in poverty, and they are the richest people I know. They see and feel and embrace everything they face in their waking moments. They go to bed with a prayer on their lips and rise with gratitude and thanks, embracing what’s in store for them each day. This is living rich. If you are in a depressed mental state, remember a positive thought can change that experience. A thought can change your feelings.
That a thought might change a mood seems so basic, but it can. If you polled the most-watched, lift-me-up videos on social media you’ll find it’s of kitties and puppies, cats and dogs, and little kids. Studies reveal watching children laughing and giggling makes a person shift from a down mood to a jovial mood. Watching cute cat and dog videos, or even looking at their pictures, shifts a mood in a nanosecond.
Now what does this have to do with it’s never too late to alter your relationship with money? Well, our moods make a difference. If you’re depressed and feeling bad, you’re going to view life through the lens of doom and gloom. But if you turn to a video showing puppies, butterflies, and children laughing and giggling, your mood will improve, leaving you feeling upbeat—like everything is going to be okay. And it is.
What is amazing is the viewers’ moods lift instantly. They don’t go anywhere; they don’t need money or to buy that fancy pair of shoes, but they immediately embrace the joy of what they’re watching. They enter into the video and become a part of it. The rich experience of connecting with nature and the moment shifts their thoughts. They change their mood without realizing it has changed. It’s never too late.
In addition, live animal camera feeds equally lift people’s moods. From an eagle cam, to a shark cam, to a polar bear cam, we love watching live animal feeds. Millions upon millions of people tuned in to watch April the giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, during her pregnancy and when she gave birth (nearly 12 million).
What drives the interest?
Perhaps the escape for a moment from news, politics, and virus spread, and yes the worries about money. To take a pause and connect with nature is a stress reliever —an important theme you’ll find throughout my writings.
Go to your nearby park or beach or woods and watch what’s there for you to embrace.
Look at the life before you.
It’s not an expense; it’s an experience. As Forbes says, if you can do and want to, then don’t not. It’s all in the action. It’s all in the mindset. What is standing between you and your joy? If you can do and you want to, then do it. And if you don’t want to, then don’t, there’s always tomorrow.
But remember the last stanza of the Forbes quote; In short, while alive, live.
Are you truly living? How do you Know? And are your thoughts real or are they imagined?
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Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.