My two daughters are big fans of the British musical group, One Direction. In their excitement, they showed me some clips of the band.
In one particular clip, the life coach in me sprang to life. Before my very eyes, I witnessed something that we all do or have done: seek evidence to prove a thought (even, and perhaps most especially, when it is a negative thought).
Picture this: the band had just performed live and one of the members, Harry Styles, had lost his breath during his solo bit. Following the performance, Harry was visibly upset and withdrew from the group. As he explained, he felt like he let down the other boys in the band and that his performance was terrible (I may have cleaned up the language here). With this thought firmly in hand, Harry then proceeded to prove it by finding evidence for it on the internet.
So let’s CSI this example and take a closer look.
We have a circumstance: a live performance
We choose one aspect of the circumstance to focus on: losing breath in solo bit
We give our focus a meaning/thought: I’m terrible
We feel an emotion as a result of the thought: upset, disappointed
We simultaneously change our physiology to match our emotion: head down, shoulders slumped, downcast eyes, shallow breathing
We take action based on our feelings: withdraw from the group and search for evidence to prove our thought (I’m terrible) via the internet.
If we continue to do this with our negative thoughts, over time, these insidious little beasts transform into huge limiting beliefs that affect our future actions.
So what could Harry have done (but didn't know to do, like so many of us)?
1. He could have changed his focus
2. He could have changed his meaning
3. He could have changed his physiology
Any one of the above would have automatically affected his emotions. And, like a domino effect, the new emotions would have created a different action and result.
Let’s replay this circumstance with a new focus, meaning and physiology.
Circumstance: a live performance
Focus: the whole performance (not just one section)
Meaning: we gave it our all
Physiology: shoulders back, head up, deep breaths
Action: Stay with the band and celebrate another performance experience
Here’s the thing though. We don’t know what we don’t know and so many of us do this unconsciously. We follow a pattern of behavior that was developed over time.
Awareness is key. It is just as easy to seek evidence to prove a positive and empowering thought as it is to seek evidence for a negative, disempowering thought.
So seek wisely.