Updated: Oct 11, 2022
Today we are learning to do a Thought Download.
What you will do is take all the thoughts you have and empty them out of your mind onto a paper. I recommend you do a daily thought download. You can take about 5-10 minutes and write all the thoughts in your mind.
Please don’t confuse this for a To-Do list. You may put down thoughts about things you have to do, but this is a Thought Download. We are working here on managing your mind. Your thoughts are a choice once you are aware of them.
Sometimes we can overcomplicate this process. Literally, anything you are thinking, write it down.
This is the first step of coaching yourself.
It is a very important exercise on its own. Now, be careful when you do this exercise. We are not judging our thoughts here. We are just putting them down and stepping back and getting curious about them.
What makes me think this?
Is it helpful?
Do I want to continue thinking this?
It’s possible you may want to keep your thought. Not all negative thoughts must be banished. You just have to decide if the thought is serving you for your best good or not. If it’s making you feel bad, it’s probably not serving you.
This exercise is excellent for those of us with ADHD.
Often we have so many thoughts so quickly that it can seem difficult to grab a hold of them. Doing this practice on a daily basis will be your butterfly net for your thoughts. You will catch them and examine them and decide if you want to release them back into your mind or not.
It greatly reduces overwhelm and leaves more room for our creative thinking.
You can also do this exercise when you are overwhelmed, upset, or spinning about a certain subject. I’ll share a way this helped me. My two youngest were going to summer camp for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdowns.
They hadn’t had much socialization, and I was worried about behavior issues on their part or from other kids toward them. I was trying to go to sleep. The camp was the next morning and I just couldn’t sleep.
Finally I got up and grabbed a notebook.
There I wrote all my thoughts and concerns about the subject. Then I took a look at them one on one. The first question I asked was, “Is this true?” Many of them just weren’t even true, so I just crossed them out.
Next, I tried to get curious, "What makes me think this?" I can’t tell you the number of thoughts that weren’t about my kids at all, but were actually how their behavior might reflect on me. They are just kids, and they are good kids doing the best they can, just like I am.
Then, "Is it helpful to think this?" I was way wrapped up in a ball of worry, so it was things like they could get hurt. Maybe, maybe not. What if they do? It’s not likely to be serious, and they will heal and likely have learned something from it.
Attached to that thought above is the question, "Can I know it will happen?" No, none of it, really. I’m staying up with worry over something I have no idea will ever happen at all. I’m taking my pain ahead of time for something that may not even happen.
When in worry, some helpful questions are:
Is this true?
What makes me think this?
Is it helpful?
Can I know it will happen?
I want to talk about beliefs because beliefs are simply thoughts we have practiced thinking. Some we have practiced since childhood, and we don’t even think to question them. When you do this work, you will uncover beliefs that you have been believing without deciding to.
In the same way, you will want to catch beliefs, examine them and decide if they are serving you.
I will give you an example. This was really uncovered in coaching for me, and once it was, I couldn’t unsee it. I had been taught to work hard. An excellent value to instill in your kids, right. Except I took it too far. I found I believed anything I got I had to get the hard way.
From that, I had an overall belief that life was hard.
So everything in life was hard because I would make it hard to prove my belief true. The laundry, the dishes, keeping up with the yard, stopping at a store, washing a car, making dinner. I could go on and on. I had learned over the years I was mistaken on some things.
For example, I started timing my tasks and realized. Oh, it doesn’t actually take that long to load and start a dishwasher. Guess I was wrong about that. Oh, if I stand at the washer and dryer and fold the clothes and switch the laundry, it takes maybe 10-15 minutes. I can sort it into each person’s laundry as I fold and simply drop it off in their rooms or even put it away when they were younger.
I believed all these things were hard and there was an underlying thought of, “This is going to take forever!” For a long time, I did not even question the belief and thoughts. So I made it true. When the belief went unquestioned, I didn’t do the things that were hard regularly, which made them even harder when I finally did them.
Can you relate to this?
Is there an area of your life you have done this? If you would like a Thought Download & Model Workbook, you can click here https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vZCBs1SPB3wIxjDmz3JdqsoZG2w503FE/view
Today we are simply talking about the Thought download, but The Model is an excellent awareness tool and the next step.
If you would like some more information about how to use The Model, check out my video series here https://youtu.be/ZC1AL15OC7Q about how to coach yourself. It’s the most popular series so far on my YouTube channel. The video on this topic you can find here https://youtu.be/IeVlqHDtSZQ . Would you like to get some coaching on this or anything else? Book a call with me by clicking the button below.