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How About A Toxic Thinking Wipe Out?

It's the New Year.  I know, we have been hearing it and saying if for almost two weeks, but I can't stop saying it but if you let me get away with it just one more time here, I promise I will stop saying it. 


I have to be honest. Many of the changes in 2021 will come from external factors, i.e. a vaccine, weather conditions, the economy  etc.. 


However,and this is a BIG however, the most potent changes will come from changes in our thinking.  


So amazing right?  Right!  A thing that you can work with totally on your own will make extraordinary, awesome, and welcome change in your life. 

Guess what? It will also influence positive change in the lives of others. Efficient positive change spreading. Like the smoothest peanut butter. Gotta love that. Love it on what? A bagel, 28 grain bread, fluffy white? 


Our parents, grandparents, teachers, talk show hosts, they all say the same thing: 


They say this because they seriously believe that preparing for the worst will keep the worst from happening. 




Research is yelling at us to wake up and realize that by visualizing and preparing  for the worst, without opening our minds to our talents and possibilities for growth, we nearly predict the worst actually happening. 


Seems unfair right?  Parents, grandparents, teachers, and talk show hosts all say the same thing about that too; LIFE IS UNFAIR.  But not if you make yourself lucky with good mental preparation.


The most heavily played tunes on our mental playlist are loaded with stories predicting a future riddled with worst case scenarios.  We believe these stories, that we squint, close our eyes, and bite our finger nails to the beat of, might protect us. 


Truth be told, these seemingly innocuous little ditties are actually the toxic seeds for failing to fulfill our dreams. 


Toxic seeds for failing to fulfill our dreams.  


Lowes and Home Depot are not selling and want nothing to do with these euphemistically named "seeds" They know, and I think you do too, that if they were to sell them to customers they would never see those customers again.  

Customers would not come back!  So why do we keep coming back to plant the seeds of  toxic thoughts again and again and make it  harder for ourselves to accomplish our goals?  


Why do we allow that raunchy cacophony of toxic tales to keeps us up at night? 

"Don't start that stupid exercise program, you're gonna end up quitting anyway."   

The refrain repeats and grows louder and soon even imagining what it would feel like to feel fit and healthy becomes dangerous!


My playlist is definitely different from yours, that's  the truth.  But the process, the process is is similar for all of us.  Everyone's playlist is as unique as they are because their fears are in some ways unique and tied to unique patterns for stress and anxiety. Who cares about same and different?  


These varied thoughts are the same with regard to their paralyzing potential.


Ready to hear Mary's story? 

Mary had not been on a date in 15 years, so, yes it was this century, but barely.  Mary's best friend was forever nudging and fudging Mary to ask this guy they both were crushing on to get coffee. "Shut up, that dream boat would never notice me, let alone  sit down for coffee with me!" Guess what?  Mary may have safely ensconced herself in unknowing, but she also never had coffee with dreamboat!  So sad, right?


Then there is Martin. Martin loves to listen to a local business guru's podcast every Sunday while he is doing his bike tour around the downtown square.  Martin grew even more fond of guru when he spotted guru at the same tennis club Martin belongs to. Martin imagined guru would be the perfect mentor for a new local bike shop he dreamed of opening.  Yet, when Martin found himself putting his stinky tennis shoes in the locker right next to the locker where guru was retrieving his aftershave, Martin did not say a word.  Well, he did whisper, a few words, "Excuse me, I will get out of your way." and then high tailed it to the showers. Martin's playlist is belting out "3 Times Too Incompetent." So sad, because Martin, yes Martin, would be a totally bad ass bike shop owner. 


Carlita, supposedly safe at  home, opened an email invite to happy hour and her rapid heart beat nearly blared out the sound of  "I would totally have nothing to say.!" Carlita paused and tried to remember her last witty remark and came to think it was probably back in high school.  She had written it in Malcolm Snyder's yearbook. Carlita is safely set with "socializing  is out" and then falls into "I at least have to find success at work."  Not for long though.  Up comes, "Eugene from Sales will definitely be offered a promotion way before me"  ringing in her ears and throughout her body.


Why do we allow these toxic seeds to grow into raggy weeds that crowd out the flowers of our dreams? 


Glad you asked, but, I already answered that so I am not that glad.  It is because we are afraid of failing and we think that playing these mind numbing mantras will protect us from failure.


Come on.  You, wonderful you,made it through 2020! (I didn't say it a New Year! Well I did just now but that doesn't count).  It's OK to admit it. 2020 has already passed. Nothing bad can happen if you acknowledge your extraordinary feat of survival. You are strong and resilient and rippling  with tenacity. 



The psychology of “wise interventions” is  fascinating. Not just for nerds like me. Lots of super cool people have found the psychology of “wise interventions” utterly mind blowing.


The idea behind the  psychology of wise interventions is that our behavior is a response to  the way we interpret, or give meaning to, a situation. 

When we change  that meaning (using a wise intervention) we will change our behavior,  typically for the better.


Intelligence is fixed.

That creep Harry once said intelligence is fixed. What? You listened to creepy Harry before your own wisdom? 

You know intelligence is not fixed.

Wait. Look deeper. 

Do you know that intelligence is not fixed? 

Do you subconsciously believe your  intelligence is fixed?  


Tell me dear friend. Do you like to organize and group people in your mind? We all do in order to process information about others quickly. But CAUTION!  It is also a sneaky way to shape like putty our own behavior to meet our somewhat subconscious, expectations.


This brings me to Barbara, or Babs.  Babs' situation is heart wrenching. Babs did poorly on the third and  fourth parts of the CPA exam. Just taking the CPA exam is heart wrenching.  Heck, just studying accounting is heart wrenching, but, hey, I have never been a numbers person.   When Babs got her scores she shrieked and launched into "I should never have tried to take the CPA exam in the first place."  I would probably have come to the very same conclusion, albeit for starkly different reasons.  Babs decided she was not meant to be a CPA. OK......Would you take this from Babs?  I mean, if you were Babs' friend, wouldn't you be furious with her?  Wouldn't you be like, "Babs, you passed 3 parts, there are only 2 more, Get back in the ring!!!!!!"  


This is the kind of conversation I need you to have with yourself.  I need you to be your own good friend.


Larry, a lawyer who can talk up a storm with clients, feels his heart pounding, his stomach grumbling, and his palms sweating whenever he sees one of the interns call him over to join the group at lunch.  Larry knows for sure he would make a fool of himself if he joined his colleagues.  How does he know?  Well,his heart is pounding, his stomach is grumbling, and his palms are sweating. Larry marks these as exhibits A,B, and C as proof that he does not belong, that he is out of his league, 


This brings me back to you, sweet friend. When you are being your own best buddy, you need to make sure that you tell yourself that signs of stress, i.e. heart pounding, stomach grumbling, and palms sweating or other feelings of physiological arousal, are there to help you do great and they are not meant to be debilitating or evidence of impending failure.  If you believe these reactions are evidence of failure they will do the polar opposite of helping you perform great things. Alas, sadly, they will make it harder for you to perform to your abilities.


The psychology of wise interventions works by helping us see that the way we make sense of things, our world, and our position in it, has a lot to do with our success.


Opening our minds and visualizing the positive  possibilities that lie before us gives us an alternative, legitimate, and adaptive way to understand ourselves, other people, and the social situations we find ourselves in, which in turn helps us to succeed and grow.


Of course some stuff will inevitably go down poorly, but that is how we learn how to traverse the terrain of growth and opportunity. 


Think of something that you perceived to be a failure in your own life.   For me, it was trying to make my fortune owning a yoga studio.  A fortune was not what I made and that saga is for another day.  But you know what?  I learned more from that failure than I learned in 6 years of grad school.  That yoga studio gave me the opportunity  to change how I was misinterpreting the events of my life. 



Mindfulness helps us to gain an understanding of how we make sense of what matters in any given situation. 


Back to the yoga studio. For a few minutes I thought, geeze Louise, I suck at everything, I am going to throw in the towel and just give up.  My way of coping with the anxiety that failure brings was to shut down the thought of ever owning a yoga studio again.  Heck, I did not want to ever own another yoga mat, let alone a studio.  

But,  I did not shut down the thought of ever owning a business again.  I know I am an entrepreneur and yoga, well, if you own a yoga studio I am so grateful to your for the work you do and the good vibes you put out there but, that is one heck of a business challenge.  Namaste! 


So when things sort of flop, tell your sweet buddy, your sweet self, to change that inner tune. Discomfort is making room for growth, which is your birthright all the way until your very last day. 


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