I’m Diana Swillinger, and you’re listening to the Renew Your Mind podcast. We are all looking for more joy, more peace, more fulfillment and relief from being overwhelmed and stuck. This is the place we explore how to make that happen by managing our mind. Welcome.
DIANA: Hey. Hey. I’m Diana Swillinger, the host of the Renew Your Mind podcast. This is our second episode. Today we’re going to talk about thoughts. Not all thoughts are true. Did you know that? You probably did. We all know intellectually, not all our thoughts are true, but we aren’t always living that out in functioning and evaluating our thinking, as if many of our thoughts aren’t true. We just kind of think they are. We don’t usually go through our days with an active understanding that our thoughts are mostly opinions, perceptions or ideas. Usually we’re just going around our day under the assumption that what we’re thinking is totally true. And for most of our thoughts, there’s probably not a lot of reason to question if they’re true or not. Like when the alarm beeps in the morning, we think, I should get up. Then we get up.
We think it’s true, we should get up. There’s no problems being presented here. It’s fine. We think to say hello to someone. We think to prepare a meal, eat a meal, put on clothes, walk down the block, get the mail, whatever it is. That’s the thoughts that are driving our actions, that keep us moving and doing life. But there’s some other thoughts we might have, like, that flower is pretty, or the food is good, my son should get to school on time. They seem true, true. All of them seem true, or at least we assume they’re true. Sometimes we just think, I had the thought, so it must be true, but maybe not. So let’s take
a look at some of these thoughts. The flower is pretty. Sounds like if I think that that’s true. But is it
actually? Not necessarily.
It’s actually an opinion that I’m having about that flower, and someone else might disagree with my opinion or perception. Maybe they hate yellow. It’s a yellow flower. I love yellow flowers, and I think it’s pretty. And they think it’s terrible because that color is not pretty. It’s really an opinion, but there’s still not really harm
thinking it I can think that flower is pretty. Maybe it’s not true, but it’s not disrupting life. It’s not a big
deal. But sometimes it does matter. Sometimes our thoughts, whether it’s true or not, are impacting our lives.
Sometimes the thought leads us to feeling painful emotions, or it could lead us to make risky decisions, or it
could lead us to engage in harmful behavior or damage a relationship, or argue our thinking or our own thoughts because we think we’re right and true. And the other person’s thoughts are obviously wrong and false.
So whenever a thought is leading us to a negative emotion or a negative outcome. That’s when it might be worth examining. In my coaching practice, one of the things we do a lot is test a thought to see if it’s true. When people come to me for coaching, we’re coaching on something that they feel like is an issue or a problem or uncomfortable in their lives. So that’s why it’s worth examining. And we’ll just take a look at the thoughts that are driving the situation. By ring. Katie. I want to mention some of her work. By Ring Katie is a self ah, help author. I’ve watched some of her videos on YouTube and read her book and, uh, her work is based on well, she has several books but I read one of them that I love. Her work is based on examining thoughts to see if they are true.
And I’m always fascinated when I watch her. The way Byron Katie talks to people and gets them to think stretches my own brain. But in a good way. If you like philosophy or disrupting thinking patterns, I really recommend checking her out. I, um, recommend her book loving What Is. Now. As a Christian, I don’t necessarily agree with everything in her book. Not all of it jives with my own Christian beliefs, but that’s okay. There is still so much value I found in what how she works with people. And what really struck me was her relentless asking of people she’s working with to examine if a particular thought is true. All the time she’s asking, Is that thought true? So let’s play around with that a little bit ourselves. Let’s go back to the flower. I see a flower. I’m looking at the flower with my own eyes and I think I see a flower. That’s a pretty safe thought to say it’s true. The flower is there in physical form and I’m looking at it with my eyeballs. I can prove that there’s a flower there. My thoughts true. I see a flower. I have the image in my brain. But now what about that thought? I see a pretty flower. Is that true?
Say we talked about somebody else. They might decide it’s ugly. Somebody else might decide they don’t like how it looks. It’s become subjective whenever we add adjectives or descriptors. We’re probably going to be throwing that thought into the category of a perception or an opinion rather than truth. Are you with me on that one? I see a flower. True. I see a pretty flower. Subjective, not necessarily true. So let’s look at some other thoughts. I’m going to use a fictitious example. Sometimes, um, my kids listen to the podcast and I’d like you to know this is not a true example. But well, maybe there’s bits and pieces of truth from all of my sons, but this isn’t one specific. So let’s just pretend. Imagine it’s a Saturday morning and my son is still sleeping 11:00 a.m. And he has chores to do and homework to do. And I’m thinking, he is sleeping when there’s all this stuff to do. He is so lazy. Seems kind of true to me. He has tons of stuff to do. It’s 11:00 A.m and he’s sleeping. He’s lazy. His room’s messy, his homework’s not done, chores are not done. Uh, I’m up, I’m cleaning, I’m cleaning the kitchen, I’m looking around. There’s so much stuff to do. I can see all his work to do. And he’s sleeping. It really seems true that he’s lazy and he should be up doing things. Before we get carried away with that, let’s just now take this. If I had to present this in a court of law to a judge, I could list all those facts. So imagine I’m standing in front of the judge and I’m saying, my son is lazy, and he asks me for evidence. That’s what we do in a court of law. What’s the evidence? I list all the things, I make a solid case. He’s lazy. I have evidence and it’s true.
But then it’s my son’s turn to talk to the judge, and the judge asks him, Son, are you lazy?
And my son says, no, I’m not. That’s not true. I’m not lazy. So the judge asks for evidence.
Then my son talks about how he runs on the cross country team and he’s improving his time, his race time. Each week he works 15 hours a week, he mows the lawn every week. He wakes up every weekday at 06:00 a.m. for school, and he goes on and on. He has a long list of evidence to show that he’s not lazy.
My evidence of him being lazy would not stand up in a court of law.
I had lots of evidence, but there’s tons of evidence just as easily found to show that he’s not lazy. Now, we’re thinking through this here on the podcast together, and we can see both sides, but our brain does not usually do that. Our brain doesn’t think, what is the evidence on both sides of my thought. It just thinks the thought and thinks it’s true. It takes energy to try to think of it differently and find different evidence. It’s so much easier not to resist and just believe the thoughts that our brain offers up.
So why does any of this matter? Well, how I think about a person is going to affect how I show up in a relationship with that person, and it’s also just going to affect how I feel going through life. So let’s think about what that thought does for me. If I’m thinking my son is lazy, what emotions might I feel when I think he’s lazy and he shouldn’t be, and he should be up doing things? I might feel resentment, I could feel frustration, I could feel superior or angry. Yuck. None of those feel very good. None of those are really enjoyable to feel. But I’m feeling it because of the thought I’m having and then how am I going to show up with my son? Might I give him the cold shoulder when he gets up? Finally shows up in the kitchen to eat cereal at noon. Might I complain to him, you should have been doing this, you should have been doing that, you were doing it wrong. It’s not how we do it around here. I could tell him he’s lazy and put him down. Is that how I want to show up with my son, though? Uh, because that is how I’m going to show up if I’m frustrated or angry.
But what about all the evidence that my son has that he gave to the judge that shows he’s not lazy? All the things he does do, all the effort he does put out that made him sound like he’s reliable. That made him sound like he’s committed and active. When I think of my son that way, I’m going to feel different emotions. If I think he’s worked all week and gone to school and track and the lawns mode, he’s been doing all that stuff, it makes sense that he’s tired right now. I don’t think he’s lazy. I think he needs some sleep. Then I’m going to feel different emotions. I might feel satisfied or content. I might feel compassion. Probably would feel compassion. How would I show up for my son if I was feeling compassion?
I’d understand him being tired and struggling to keep up with all that stuff. And, um, maybe I’d ask how I can help. Maybe he comes down at noon and I’m like, here’s a sandwich. You need some energy. You’ve been working hard.
I would show up very differently coming from a place of compassion than I do from frustration.
And we do have these choices when it comes to our thoughts. Just because our brains offer a thought, we don’t have to assume they’re true and then go searching for all the evidence to back it up. Just because my brain spat out the thought, my son’s lazy, like, huh, that’s an interesting thought. I could think that. How would I feel if I thought that? Huh, resentful? Frustrated? Maybe? I don’t want to think that. And then I can lead my brain through a process of thinking something different. Because ultimately, it doesn’t even matter if it’s true. It doesn’t even matter if he’s lazy or not. Who cares? What I care about is that when I think that thought, it makes me feel yucky. And I don’t get to show up as the kind of mom that I want to show up as.
That is not a useful thought to me. It does not serve me. It does not help me. It does not help me grow my
relationship. It doesn’t help me show up as the kind of person I want to be. So let me advocate for this.
When we’re willing to question our thoughts and challenge them if they’re true or not, or if they’re helpful or not. That’s mature. When we question our own thoughts, it requires humility.
And questioning our own thoughts will open us up to growth. It will open us up to possibility. It helps us be
intentional about our relationships, our experiences, our actions, and everything we create in our life.
I do want to throw in a caveat here, though. There’s a lot of self help info out there. There’s a lot of other people teaching about thoughts and mindset and all that kind of stuff. And I want to make sure that I give this caveat here when we talk about those adjectives, and I’m saying that adjectives will mostly make something subjective and a perception rather than a truth. I want to be sure to clarify. As a Christian, there is one place that we do find truth the Bible. And God’s word is truth. And guess what? There are a lot of descriptors in there. There’s descriptors about our God.
It tells us our God is good. He is gracious, he is kind, loving, and faithful. And all of it that I do take is
truth because God is truth. And just as our God is gracious and kind and loving with me and you, I want to be that way with the people in my life. Guess how I do that? I get better at being kind and gracious and loving with the people in my life every day by questioning my thoughts, examining if they’re true, seeing if they’re helpful, and if they’re serving me, and if they match up with God’s truth. And then I choose my thoughts. All right, that’s what I have for you today. I want to remind you all to examine your thoughts. Start watching your brain. It’s empowering when you notice a thought creates a negative emotion. Ask yourself, is it true? Is it serving you? Is it aligning with God’s truth? Use your free will to question and choose your thoughts. And then it makes room for God’s promises to transform us through the renewing of our mind, which is pretty darn cool if you ask me.
Thank you so much for listening. I, uh, trust you finding this podcast is helpful. I’d like to ask you all to do
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