What were you thinking?

In Business, Coaching and Success by Mei OuwLeave a Comment

The words we use and the internal movies we play change our experiences and perspective in life.


Are you feeling stressed out, frazzled, and out of control? Do you blame this on your job, boss, kids, or partners? What if I were to tell you that stress isn’t caused by any of those things and that it’s what you do with your mind in reaction to these external factors that cause stress?

A world of make-believe

All meaning is constructed. Or in other words, we live in a world of make-believe! Our experience is completely subjective and is constructed based on what we pay attention to and what we filter for.

Let’s say you are asked by your boss to make a speech to a large audience. Your instant reaction is one of fear and anxiety and you run a movie in your head where you see the audience looking bored, you feel your hands shaking, your mouth is dry, and you hear the sound of your trembling voice stuttering to get the words out. Apart from the sleepless nights and stomach ulcer you’ve now created, how successful do you think your speech will be on the day?

By understanding how the words we use and the internal movies we play create our experience of the world, we can change our experience and ultimately, our results. We can figure out how successful people are getting outstanding results and how we can duplicate their process to enhance our own performance, for example, finding out what successful people do when asked to speak publicly.

Changing your results

Rewind. This time when you are asked to give a speech hear yourself saying, “Awesome, this is exciting, I can’t wait!” In the movie you run in your mind you see smiling faces in the audience. You hear the sounds of enthusiastic clapping and you feel relaxed and confident, the words are flowing. You’re nailing it. Now how do you perform? Just by changing your internal dialogue, pictures, sounds, and feelings, you can change your response and your results.

Try this short exercise: think of a situation to which you have a negative response. Go right into that experience and notice what picture you see inside your mind as you do. Now let’s do two basic things: step out of yourself so you see yourself in the picture, then zoom the picture out so that it’s small and distant. How do you feel about it now? Has the emotional charge changed?

We all have habitual ways of thinking and reacting that limit us. Once you have awareness and can observe your own patterns of thinking, they lose their grip on you and you can move to more resourceful ways of being.

Shifting your perspective      

One powerful way of challenging your thinking and conditioning is to shift perspective by being curious and asking yourself:

  • What do I believe?
  • And how could I be wrong?

As you train your mind to pay attention to different sensory data your experience changes.

Gregory Bateson, a systems theorist, suggests that you need at least two different perspectives to have enough information to make sense and be well informed of a situation.

So next time you want a different outcome, try changing your internal movie and shift perspective. You’ll be amazed at the result.

About the author
Mei Ouw

Mei Ouw

Mei Ouw is an executive coach, leadership consultant, and facilitator of NLP who works with clients to unlock their potential and be brilliant.

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