37. Thought Work

Once you learn that your thoughts create your feelings, you might be tempted to get into a little bit of “thought swapping.”  But, thought swapping isn’t the most effective way to get to where you want to go.  

Listen in today to learn my 5 steps to doing thought work.  These tools are a little bit more advanced, but if you are ready to see lasting change in the way you see yourself, your mission, and your life, start implementing thought work, the way I’m teaching you here today.

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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone? It’s Jenny, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 37. Thought work. I’m Jenny, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential, and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next.

0:51 Hey, everyone, and welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to be hanging out with you today. Thanks so much for being here. I think we have a few of you new here. And it just makes me so happy. Because I feel like the more of us that are talking about missionary work in this way, the more helpful tools and strategies that we can get out to our missionaries. One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is that the mission is supposed to be hard. But our missionaries don’t need to suffer. And I feel like the tools that I teach here, have the ability to end missionary suffering and returned missionary suffering. Yeah, being on the mission is going to be hard and coming home from the mission is going to be hard. But we really don’t, it’s not necessary for us to suffer. And so thank you so much for being here and listening to what I have to teach on here. And I would actually just love it, if you would share it with someone, even if it’s just one person. I was messaging with a lady on Facebook today about her son who’s serving a mission right now. And we were kind of messaging back and forth. And I was like, mentioning something about my RM program. And she said, Oh my gosh, I have my nephew just came home from his mission and my neighbor. He just came home from his mission. And so I was like, yeah, please share it, we want to get as many of these tools out to as many as possible. So I would so much appreciate you sharing even just take a screenshot tag me so I can thank you. And that would be awesome. I’m so excited that we are into March. Finally, I’ve been thinking about how, over the winter, I’ve been a little bit negative about the winter, and many of you probably love the winter. I’m not as much a fan. And so I am just really looking forward to spring. And once we get to March, I know that spring is right around the corner, I can see little things budding out of the ground. In my yard. It was actually like 60 degrees. I think when I went to pick up my daughter from school today, I could sit there in the parking lot with the window down, which I haven’t been able to do for months. So that just feels really good. Lots of fun things happening around the design house, we’re headed into spring break the end of this month, I feel like our spring break is pretty early compared to other places around the country. I also just got back from a business conference, which I loved so much and had the most incredible experience, actually in my Lyft car on the way back to the airport, coming home from Sacramento, I did a real about it. So if you want to go check that out, you should totally check out my Instagram page. It was just an awesome experience really like a witness to me that what we’re doing here together to get more tools out to more missionaries really does matter. And it really does make an impact. I really loved the episode that I aired last week with Joey mascio. He’s just such a great guy. If you haven’t listened to it about how to bulletproof your mission, I highly recommend that you go back and listen. It doesn’t just apply to whether you’re being bullied or not. It actually has a lot to do with just relationships in general, and the way that we can approach our relationships in a positive way, but more specifically towards bullying. Today I wanted to talk about something that he mentioned in there. He said something like we need to do our thought work. And for many of you who’ve been listening to this podcast for quite a while you might have some idea about what I what he meant by this but I wanted to dive a little bit more into what thought work is today and know how it works because as a certified life coach, it’s kind of the basis for most of what I do. We’re either talking about our thoughts, or we’re talking about how to allow and process our emotions. And kind of all of the tools and strategies that I teach are kind of appendages to those two main things. But I thought it would be really useful to dive into what thought work actually is.

5:31 Now, why is it so important for us to do, quote, unquote, thought work. And the reason that this is so important is because what I teach here is that the things outside of us do not create our emotions. And you’ve probably heard me say that 100 times on this podcast, but what creates our emotion is the way that we choose to think about something. So I like to use the example often is if my neighbor down the street, if I bake a loaf of bread, and I take it to my neighbor down the street, and maybe she’s not a member of our church, and I take it to her. Me taking the bread to her, does not make her feel anything. What makes her feel something is the way that she chooses to think about it. So she might have a thought like, that is so nice. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are so thoughtful. And then she would feel an emotion like maybe appreciation, or acceptance, or connection or something like that. But conversely, it’s possible that she might also have the thought, like, Why can’t the LDS people just leave me alone? I wish they’d leave me alone. That thought would create a different emotion, like frustration or annoyance. Okay, so do you see how it’s not the bread itself, or the act of me taking the bread that would make her feel anything at all? It’s entirely based on what she chooses to think about the bread. Now, in thought work, what we do is we examine our thoughts, we sort of question our thoughts, we pay attention to our thoughts, so that we can understand which emotions those thoughts are creating, and then what results we are getting in our lives.

7:51 Many times when people find out that their thoughts create their feelings, what they automatically want to do is they want to switch out the thought really quickly. So if I was using an example of my daughter, who has this thought right now that she doesn’t like school, my 10 year old daughter, my tendency, even as her mom is to be like, No, we love school and try to point out all of the reasons that school is awesome. But what that’s trying to do is is trying to take her from what she thinks right now, the story she’s telling herself right now, from I don’t like school, all the way to the end of the spectrum, to of course, we love school. And it’s just too far of a stretch like her brains not going to believe it. So this is what I call thought swapping and thought swapping can work sometimes. But usually, if you find yourself that you keep coming back to the same thoughts and the same thoughts and the same thoughts like my daughter has with I don’t like school is because the swapping doesn’t work. What actually works is this process called thought work, which I’m going to share with you today. And I’ve sort of come up with a five step process that I want to share with you. Let me give you a quick overview. And then we’re gonna dive a little bit deeper into each one of them. Number one is becoming aware of your thoughts. Number two is accept your thought. Number three is understand the thought. And number four is question the thought. And number five, put it back on the shelf of your brain. So that might sound a little funny. But the analogy that I like to use here is all of our thoughts are sort of like stories, and we have these compilations of a lot of thoughts that we have. And those thoughts become the story that we tell about our lives or the story In that we tell about our missions, or sometimes even the story we tell about ourselves. And it’s made up of all our thoughts and all of our beliefs. But all of them really are just sentences and thoughts. So when we get to number five, that’ll make a little bit more sense to you. But let’s go through all of these one at a time. So, awareness of the thought, let’s use the thought that my daughter has, which is I don’t like school. And all we have to do to gain awareness is to notice it, you have a higher brain and a lower brain. And because you have a higher brain and a lower brain, we’re the only species on the planet that has the ability to think about our thinking. So my daughter has the ability to go, oh, I noticed that I’m thinking, I don’t like school. It’s a subtle difference. Very subtle, because there’s us just thinking the thought, I don’t like school. And then us becoming aware that we have this thought, so we use our higher brain to pay attention to what our lower brain is offering us. Now, one word of warning is that this is the exact point that our brains like to shut us down. And it usually sounds like this. I shouldn’t think that thought. So coming from my daughter, it would sound like this. I shouldn’t not like school. But the problem is, is when we think I shouldn’t think this, we just shut our brains down, we lose our awareness of it, we lose our ability to observe the thought itself.

11:51 This week, I was on a call with a client. And I was like, Well, what do you think about this? Or what do you think about yourself? And she said, I probably shouldn’t say it out loud. Notice what her brain did, her brain was shutting it down before we could even pull it up and take a look at it. But what we want to do is we want to pull it up and observe what we’re thinking, because then we have the ability to nuance it and change it if we want to. We have so many ideas about what we should think and what we shouldn’t think and what I’m offering you here today is all of it is fine. You should think whatever your brain offers you, it’s totally fine. Which takes us to number two, which is to accept the thought. And it sounds like this. It’s okay, that I think this. So for my daughter, it’s okay that I think I don’t like school is totally fine. That takes us to number three, which is to understand the thought is sort of a question like, where is this thought coming from? And a lot of people say, I don’t know why we’re thinking this. And I say, well I do is because you have a lower brain that’s trying to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy. It makes sense that I’m thinking this. So we accept it by saying it’s okay that I think this thought that I don’t like school. And number three, we understand it. Like it makes sense to that I think this thought is just my brain trying to avoid pain, and conserve energy. Sometimes I’ll get on a call and my client will say I just don’t know why I don’t know why I have this thought. I don’t know why I have the thought that no one likes me or I don’t know why I have the thought that I’m not good enough. But it’s not really useful to figure out why, like we could go back into my daughter’s child younger childhood and figuring out why she has this thought that she doesn’t like school, but it’s not really useful. Sometimes it takes us down a like a rabbit hole that we can never get out of. So instead of trying seeking to understand why just seek to understand where it’s coming from, which is your lower brain that’s trying to seek pleasure, avoid pain or conserve energy. So then step number four is to question the thought. And the way I was taught this by one of my mentors is we want to poke holes in your story. So this thought that you have this story that you’ve created this group of thoughts, this group of beliefs, you that you have about yourself or about your mission. We want to poke holes in it. And the way that we do that is by we ask questions about the thought itself. So if my daughter’s thought is I don’t like school, we question it like, is that even true? Then I don’t like school. Or we can try this question. Is it possible that I’m wrong about this? Or we ask a question like, What does it even mean to not like school? Or we ask a question like, What if actually, the opposite of this is true? What if I actually like school? And I just haven’t been able to see it? Wouldn’t that be weird? Do you see how these questions we’re not trying to go all the way to, like, fight our brains and be like, Nope, we love school, we just question it, we poke little holes in it, here and there. And then after we’ve questioned it, what I like to do is I like to think about it like, I’m just going to close that story up. And I’m going to put it back on the shelf of my brain, which is number five. What I find that’s most helpful is rather trying to switch the thought is, when we just question it, we start sort of start to nuance it, and we kind of thumb through that book, and then we put it back on the shelf, your brain will start working on it in the background. So when we put this, I don’t like school story, or this, I don’t like school thought back on the shelf, what I want you to say to yourself, as you put that back on the shelf of your brain is and I’m willing to be wrong about this story. And what you’ll find is that eventually, that story, or that book will disappear.

16:46 And either a new story, or a new thought will take its place. Or you’ll just one day go to like look for that story or that thought in your brain and it won’t be there anymore. It’s actually pretty cool. Our brains are so powerful this way. At some point, you’ll look back and think oh my gosh, remember when I used to believe that story about myself, or when I used to believe that story about my mission. Or when I used to have that thought about school. What we want to do when we pull these thoughts off of the shelf often and I kind of talked about this before, when our brain wants to shut us down as we pull that thought off the shelf. And we’re like, oh my gosh, I do not like this one and we want to throw it out. But it doesn’t work, or we want to quickly switch it for another book or another thought but that doesn’t work. We just every so often when that thought comes up, I don’t like school, you just get awareness of it go oh, I noticed I’m thinking this thought number two, you accept it. It’s okay that I think this. Number three, we understand it? Oh, yeah, it makes sense. I think this this is my brain trying to avoid pain and conserve energy. Number four, and you question it, and you try to poke holes in the story. It’s possible I’m wrong. What does it even mean to not like school? What if this isn’t even true. And then we put it back on the shelf of your brain. So I want to use a couple examples, and move through them pretty quickly. of someone that’s leaving on a mission, someone that’s on a mission and someone who’s home from their mission. So we can sort of, again, reiterate how these five steps work. So one thought I hear a lot from preparing missionaries is I’m not prepared to go on my mission. So step number one again, is we would tell ourselves, oh, I noticed that I think I’m thinking I’m not prepared. I noticed that I have this thought See, that’s the awareness. Number two would sound like this. It’s okay that I’m thinking I’m not prepared. Totally fine that I think this that’s the acceptance. Number three, we would say it makes sense. My brain is offering me this thought. It’s just trying to conserve energy and avoid pain. That’s us just trying to understand the thought that was number three. Number four, is we would ask ourselves questions like this, we start to poke holes. Is it actually true that I’m not prepared to go on my mission? Is that possible that I’m wrong about this? What does it even mean to be prepared to go on a mission? Actually, maybe I’m totally prepared and I’m just not seeing it. Wouldn’t that be weird? This is questioning the thought and poking those holes in it. And then number five We’ll just put that book back on the shelf that story back on the shelf and say, Hmm, and I’m willing to be wrong about this story. So again, we don’t want a thought swap when your brain offers you this thought, like, I might not be prepared to go on my mission, we don’t want to swap it out and go to the opposite end, like come on brain that’s dumb, of course we’re prepared, your brain will just reject that, it will want to shut you down. Instead, let’s kind of bring it to the surface. Let’s get that awareness. And let’s accept it, understand it, question it, and then put it back on the shelf. And eventually, you’ll just notice like that thought, will just not be there on the shelf anymore.

20:48 Okay, I thought I hear a lot from currently serving missionaries is I’m not a good missionary. I hear it very, very regularly. I did a whole podcast episode on this. It’s number 20 3am. i A bad missionary. So you can totally go check that out. But I want to walk you through what it looks like to do thought work on this thought. So number one, I notice that I keep thinking the thought that I’m not good at missionary work, or that I’m not a good missionary. There’s the awareness. Number two, it’s okay that I think I’m not a good missionary, sometimes. That’s the acceptance. Number three, it makes sense that my brain is offering me this. It’s just trying to conserve energy and avoid pain. That’s the understanding. Because guess what, guys? What’s true, is when we think I’m not a good missionary, it shuts us down, right? That’s the conserve energy and avoid pain. Number four, we ask ourselves those questions. Is it actually true that I’m not a good missionary? Is it possible I’m wrong? What does it even mean to be a good missionary? Maybe it’s possible. I’m a good missionary, and I’m just not seeing it. Wouldn’t that be weird? And then we close that book up, we put it back on the shelf in your brain, and we think, Hmm, well, let’s just see, I’m willing to be wrong. And eventually, a new thought will take its place. Either that or that story, that that will just kind of disappear. You won’t even you don’t have to try to change it. You don’t have to thought swap. And tell yourself, I’m an amazing missionary. Okay. There’s too far of a stretch. If we believe I’m not a good missionary, just do the work. Do the nuancing Do the questioning poke holes in that story. One of the things I hear most often from return missionaries is this thought, I’m not progressing. Either they haven’t got a job, or they haven’t started school yet. Or they are not reading their scriptures as much as they want to, or they’re not doing as much service as they want to. And so they have this thought, I’m not progressing. So number one, again, you would say to yourself, I noticed that I keep thinking that I’m not progressing. That’s the awareness. Number two. It’s okay that I think this thought sometimes that’s the acceptance. Numbers three, it makes sense that my brain is trying to offer me this thought. It’s only trying to conserve energy, or avoid pain. That’s the understanding piece. Number four, we question it. Is it actually true that I’m not progressing? Is it possible I’m wrong? What does it even mean to progress? I had a whole conversation with a returned missionary on a strategy call this week about what it even means to progress. Another question, maybe I’m totally progressing, and I’m just not seeing it. Wouldn’t that be weird? And then we close that thought up, we close that book up, we put it back on the shelf of our brain, hmm. Okay, I’m gonna leave that there. And I’m totally willing to be wrong about this thought. And eventually, either a new thought will take its place or you’ll go to find that thought and it’ll just be gone.

24:37 Don’t want a thought swap we don’t want to go from i noticed I’m not progressing to like of course, I’m progressing. It just won’t work. And you’ll come back around to I’m not progressing. Just do the thought work and it is work but not the kind of work like hitting a hammer or going running a marathon kind of work. It’s mental work is being Be willing to be wrong about the story that your brain has just created. Don’t be in a rush. When we understand that our thoughts great our feelings, we sometimes would just want to switch those thoughts out quickly, because it gets us out of our pain. But just think about it, every time that thought comes up, we pull it down from the shelf, we thumbed through it, we question it, poke a few more holes and put it back. And we’re just gonna keep doing that over and over. And over until that book or that story is either replaced by a new one, or just not there anymore. I have an example of a couple clients, I asked usually, in one of my sessions towards the end, they say what’s different about you now than when we started working together. And one of my clients yesterday said, you know, I just, it’s kind of hard for me to put my finger on it. But I just I’m not as uptight. Like, I’m not as stressed out. I don’t judge myself as much. And he’s like, I’m, I can’t really, like totally articulate it. But in my mind, I know what’s actually happened is those thoughts and stories that he had when he came home from his mission, they’ve sort of disappeared. He says, I’m just feeling more content with where I am. I just like myself more. And that’s all because those stories, we’ve been questioning them. We’ve been poking holes in them, we been accepting them. And we’ve been understanding them. And we’ve created so much awareness. And now this is something he does more automatically for him self just on a regular basis. So do your thought work, my friends, do all of the steps that I’ve shared here to gain awareness of the thought, accept the thought understand the thought question the thought and then put it back on the shelf of your brain. All right. I hope this helps you. It’s a slow process. It takes time, but it is worth all of the work. All right, everyone have the most amazing week. We will talk to you next time. Take care. Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. Listen, if you are learning a lot from this podcast, and you like what you’re hearing, you will absolutely love hopping on a free strategy call with me. That’s where you and I meet up one on one and talk specifically about what is going on for you. I love teaching young adults the mental and emotional tools that they need to overcome worry and anxiety serve the successful missions they’ve always dreamed of and navigate their post mission experience with confidence. So go to Jennie dildine.com, and click on the work with me link. I would love to meet you. And I would love to get you some helpful tools and strategies to help you fully embrace whatever is next for you. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in. Just know that Jenny, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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