desk with notes

You can change your feelings!

In my first post I talked about my experience with dread as I was driving into work and I challenged you to ask yourself where in your life you’re experiencing a feeling or emotion that isn’t really helping you. Then I left you hanging! Today we’re going to start considering how to go about exploring that feeling and possibly changing it.  In my case, I knew that feeling dread on my way to work wasn’t really the emotion I needed to set me up for success.  If I was going to change it, though, I needed to figure out what was causing it.  

All of our feelings are created internally.  They are created by the thoughts in our brains, those little sentences and ideas that we are sometimes aware of but often not.  What that means is that, in order to change how I was feeling during my drive into work, I needed to find the thought that was creating all of that dread.  The best way to do that is to start exploring your thinking about whatever you’re struggling with.  As a Life Coach, this is exactly what I help my clients do as we work together, but, when I’m not working with my own coach, I do something called a Thought Download.  I grab my journal (I have a nice pretty one with colorful pens, but you can do this on any random piece of paper or your computer) and I ask myself, “Why am I feeling dread about work?”

The secret at this point in time is to not censor yourself.  Some thoughts that arise may seem silly or could be painful, but, if they’re trying to work their way onto your paper, it means they are circulating in your mind.  Dump that stuff out there – just spill it right onto the page – so you can really take a look at it.  When I did that (about my drive to work), I found one recurring thought: “Here I go again on my way to get my ass handed to me for the next 8 hours”. I’m sure you can see how thinking like that would lead to my feelings of dread.

Now the next step in the process is to look at that thought and really truly examine it.  I work nights in a hospital emergency department so, naturally, they are often very busy shifts.  The problem, though, was that I had decided to let myself become a victim of my shifts.  Rather than accept responsibility for my choice to work those busy shifts, I was telling myself a story about how those shifts were abusing me.  The truth was, however, that telling myself that story was completely optional.  Was there another way I could think about going to work that made sense and felt authentic, but that didn’t create dread?  The answer was 100% yes!

To be honest, the change didn’t happen overnight and it took a lot of self-coaching and work with my coach.  Tonight, however, as I drive over that hill heading into my overnight shift, I’ll be thinking: “There’s nothing coming my way that I can’t handle.”  Then, instead of dread, I’ll be feeling confidence and maybe some excitement.  I’d love to work with you to help you do the same.