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Home » #24: The Work of Shifting our Thoughts, Feelings, and Beliefs

#24: The Work of Shifting our Thoughts, Feelings, and Beliefs

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SUMMARY

How can we really shift our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs? Suri shares her tips on practices we can try, to begin showing up as the person we want to be – instead of just pretending. 

This episode was made using:

TRANSCRIPT – edited for clarity

INTRO: Hi friends, welcome to Episode 24 of Doing Things on Purpose – the podcast that empowers women to take charge of their time, health, relationships, and money by doing things on purpose. I’m your host Suri Stahel. 

This week I was thinking about the important inner work that we can find ourselves needing to do, to shift our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and intentions towards a more open and authentic direction.

That’s the buzzword today. Authenticity. But I’m not interested in authenticity from a marketing perspective. 

I’m talking about real, no hidden agendas, authenticity. That we’re not just pretending.

MOM CHECK-IN: But before we dive in, let’s first begin with this week’s mom check-in. 

By the way, for my regular listeners – let me know if this self-care section in the beginning of each podcast has served as a helpful and loving reminder for you, or do you just prefer if I skip ahead to the topic of each episode?

Let me know by leaving a comment on instagram or twitter @suristahel, or write to me at suristahel@gmail.com

So let’s get to it. 

How have you been this past week? 

The same? And is that “same” – a good “same” or a bad “same” for you?

If it’s a good thing, then I’m so glad to hear it. It is such a precious thing to even notice, what brings us joy, and what nourishes us. And after that, all we need to do is to just keep watering that plant, because it gives us SO much back, doesn’t it?

Then on the other side of the spectrum, if your “just the same as always” week isn’t such a good thing – ask yourself, what needs to shift? Not next week, or next month. 

What small shift can you already do today – to make your day-to-day, and your week-by-week feel just a little bit easier and more joyful? 

Personally, my “same as usual week” has been pretty good. Just for context: I’m a stay-at-home mom with two preschool aged kids, and I’m learning new skills to slowly grow my own coaching practice from home. 

My typical work-week looks like this:

  • I wake up at 5:50am. 
  • My self-care routine consists of my morning yoga, some journaling and cozying up with a book whenever I find pockets of time during the day. 
  • For work, I dedicate about 3.5 hours every morning and 1-2 hours most afternoons when the kids are in school – to create, record, write, or learn something new. So that’s about 5 hours of work-time per day, except on days where my kids have afternoon activities. 
  • The rest of the time gets quickly filled up with family activities like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and relationship-building routines, that I’m sure most parents and couples know, need to get done.
  • And I try to go to sleep by 10pm. 

But it’s not all roses.

I’m starting to find myself battling with monkey mind as I do my morning yoga these days. Because there’s so much new information that I’m processing. Either through the coaching course I’m going through, books I’m reading or podcasts I’m listening to.

It has definitely re-activated my workaholic tendencies. 

And so, I’ve been sleeping later than I’d like, and waking up with a monkey mind instead of the usual stillness that I used to have. 

I still believe in keeping a simple daily schedule.

Because it means we’re not asking ourselves to do more than we can humanly, joyfully and sustainably handle. We give ourselves room to be flexible when emergencies or random events suddenly pop-up in the short term. 

Which they do.

But more importantly, I want you to think about tweaking your schedule to build a routine that supports YOU.

If you already know how you best work, play, and rest, I invite you to ground deeper into that. Give yourself permission to really design the hours of your day, as you deeply want and need to. 

Identifying and shifting unhelpful thoughts, feelings and beliefs

Moving on to today’s topic of identifying and shifting unhelpful thoughts, feelings and beliefs. For me, these can be both feelings that we typically label as positive, as well ones that we sometimes think of as negative.

What do I mean?

  • Let’s say pride can be a wonderful thing. But it can interfere when you’re finding yourself at loggerheads with your child or spouse.
  • Ambition can be a good thing, but it can be bad when we start interfering with how our kid’s lives should look like, instead of (as Janet Lansbury puts it), being their most interested spectator.

What if we stop judging our thoughts, feelings, or intentions, as good or bad?

I want to start by saying, I am a believer that all feelings, thoughts and intentions should be welcomed. There’s nothing more unhelpful or soul-destroying, than believing that you should carry shame around a particular feeling that rises up for you. 

Because good or bad, depends on our own personal value systems. And it can even be very nuanced in each situation as well.

Now this is not the same as giving up and just accepting things as they are. This episode’s about inviting each one of us to just identify, gently look at, and explore ways of shifting, any thoughts, feelings or beliefs that we feel stuck in. 

Can we move it toward a more loving and compassionate direction?

In parenting:

  • It’s embracing and allowing our children to have meltdowns and big feelings, without shaming or shutting them down; but at the same time, not taking that as a free pass that children shouldn’t have boundaries and don’t need to be modeled appropriate ways of expressing and regulating emotion. 

The key word here is modeling.

So the onus is on us again to work on our mindset – in other words, our thoughts, feelings and intentions so that we can be good role models.

How do we do that?

I don’t believe this work is never done, but I do believe that our inner world needs, and calls for us, to keep trying and just keep doing our best, over and over again.

The disconnect between ‘wanting to be’ and actually ‘being’

Let me share a quick background story.

One of the reasons I started this podcast was that I had something to say about this exact topic of shifting our inner thoughts and feelings.

If you’re like me, and you’ve consumed parenting books, magazines and podcasts – like Janet Lansbury’s Unruffled or Kim John Payne’s Simplicity Parenting Podcast, you know that a lot of the work that we’re being asked to do in conscious parenting – is less about using exact scripts or strategies; but at the core, it’s more about us showing up from a confident, authentic, sincere and non-judgemental place. 

Or maybe you’ve read self-development books – about inspired and brave leadership from people like Brene Brown or Simon Sinek.

A lot of it is about the work of showing up from a place of vulnerability, full-heartedness, unwavering positive regard for others. To start to bring a sense of purpose, meaning and connection to any situation. 

That’s how I see it anyway.

Intellectually, we might already know this. But emotionally we can have a lot of trouble, getting to that loving, wise and understanding place within ourselves, which actually influences everything else – from our energy, body language, tone of voice, choice of words, intentions, and ultimately our actions, or lack of action for that matter.

For some people, showing up the right way comes naturally, and that’s great. For me too, to some extent. But I still do a lot of work around that.

So if you’re finding yourself needing the work too…

How can we shift our reactionary feelings and beliefs, to naturally influence better thoughts and intentions – before we even speak, act or respond to a situation?

Because again, we might have the all right words, the right script, the right strategies – but if it’s not coming from the heart; others can feel it. Unfortunately, often we’ve learned to just ignore what we intuitively notice. 

To keep things comfortable.

Temper our need for perfection

But I say, let’s go deeper. We can start by tempering our need for perfection. 

To me, it’s like trying to be a Zen master. The continual practice of mindfully observing our thoughts and emotions without getting entangled in them. 

I know it sounds so hard, but that’s just the thing. No one’s asking for perfection.

I’m currently reading a book called Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. In it, Shunryu (shunjuu) Suzuki mentions that even Zen Buddhists teachers are not expected to be in a perpetual state of calm and tranquility. 

We all have our own innate nature that calls for expression. Both peace and struggle are just a part of life. One is not better than the other.

If the only constant thing in life is change – can we learn to embrace these shifts in and out of states of calm and dysregulation, without suppressing, judging or denying anything? Can  notice how they come and they pass, just like passing waves, belonging to the big, wide ocean. 

All our feelings, all of our thoughts, belong to this experience we call being human.

Perhaps all we need to do is to cultivate practices that can help distance ourselves just enough, from our first reactions of anger, control or defense – so we can begin to ground down into that underlying space of love, trust, inner wisdom and compassion. 

What are some mindful practices that we could try?

Here are just some of the things that have come into my radar, that I offer as possible things to try:

  1. Find a trusted teacher, mentor, coach, advisor or join a community of like-minded people to help support you, if you’re in need of external guidance. 
  2. Start a journal to notice thought patterns that keep repeating. You can find many journal prompts on Google or YouTube.
  3. Explore the philosophy of Stoicism which emphasizes the practice of wisdom, justice, courage, moderation, and self-control, in our daily lives. 
  4. Look into Zen Buddhism, which practices sitting meditation or Zazen – to still the body in a state of awareness, without the need to control or be bothered by the comings and goings of our thoughts and emotions. And it teaches us to simply do what we should do, without thinking too much about it.

In many ways, Zen teachings remind me of my favorite way of shifting thoughts and emotions, which is:

  • Byron Katie’s work, called The Work. I talk about this on my website at suristahel.com because her work is so simple and yet so impactful. In a nutshell, The Work is about putting our thoughts, beliefs and judgments down on a worksheet (great for slowing down our monkey mind), sitting in them and questioning them, and then turning them around to consider other possible truths that might exist.

For me, while other methods like journaling, meditation or talking things out do help provide some relief, they often leave me feeling like I’m still ‘up in the air.’ Things still feel unresolved within me.

How one shift, shifts everything

Byron Katie’s worksheets can help us loosen our bonds of attachment to our original thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Any stuck feelings seem to dissipate.

It guides us to gently and safely explore other ways of seeing a situation.

It seems so simple. And yet somehow, by finding our own inner resolution on just one situation, it helps us show up from a much more compassionate place – either when that situation repeats itself, or even in other situations that would typically challenge us.

I think of it like strengthening a muscle for self and external compassion, which begins with just one seed, just one specific situation – which then naturally grows and extends into all of our other interactions in life. 

I don’t know how else to explain it. I think you have to do it, to experience it.

I’m simply offering my personal experience, and YOU get to decide what you’re ready for, what resonates with you, and what to put aside for another day.

Let’s do a quick recap:

  • How can we shift our thoughts, feelings and beliefs, in a way that cultivates our own inner well of grounded wisdom and unconditional compassion for others and for ourselves?
  • How can we actually show up and BE the curious, present and connected parent, partner, teacher, and leader that we always wanted to be?
  • How can we let go of our hidden agedas, of pretending to care, and of our need to say and do things, for the sole purpose of getting to a certain outcome? 
  • How can we learn to actually care, and to empathize more than we naturally would?

The first thing I suggest is to move our efforts away from the focus of saying the right words and doing the right things. Because often, that’s just for show. 

What we’re trying to shift is the actual intention behind those words and actions.

Now we’re not expecting perfection – just doing our best, and being open to getting better with practice. 

Cultivating mindful practices that can help us create some space between our observant mind, and our preconditioned thoughts, feelings, beliefs and reactions. 

3 Mindful practices I recommend trying are:

  • Journaling
  • Exploring mindful practices from the philosophies of Stoicism, Zen Buddhism or The Work of Byron Katie (my favorite).
  • Finding mentors, teachers or support communities, if and when you need it.

Need more help?

That’s all I have for you today. I sure hope this has been helpful. 

Do let me know if you also find yourself struggling to embody the person you know in your heart and head, you want to be. 

And we just have to trust that with practice, it will get easier.

All the links and the show notes will be available on my website at suristahel.com/24 for this episode 24. 

You’ll also find my guide for parents there, as well as past episodes under the podcast section, categorized by topic.

I just want to wish everyone a Happy Easter weekend. 

Thanks for listening to the Doing Things on Purpose podcast with me Suri, and I’ll catch you again next time. 

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