Don’t Believe Anything You Think
By Karen Susman
My mom always told me to never believe anything I hear and only half of what I read. Recently, I saw a bumper sticker that went a step further. It read, “Don’t Believe Anything You Think.”
That gave me a chuckle and a yank on my choke chain. Does that mean I have to challenge all those thoughts I claim to be true? You betcha.
I’ve decided to be aware of my thoughts and toss out the ones that are based on old wives’ tales, Aesop’s Fables, nursery rhymes, and my and other people’s neuroses. This will be like de-cluttering my closets.
When you de-clutter your closets, organizing professionals order you to pick up each item and ask, “When was the last time I used it? Do I love it? Does it still fit?” If you haven’t worn it for 18 months, or it doesn’t fit, or you don’t love it, out it goes – even if it still has the tags on it. When it comes to clothes that don’t work for me anymore, I can give them away, throw out the ratty items or store them in my keepsake cedar closet for sentimental value.
When it comes to de-cluttering my brain, there are too many ideas jammed in there to examine in one sitting, so I’m examining them as they come up. I ask myself the same questions: “When was the last time I used it? Do I love it? Does it still fit?” Another question I ask myself is, “Is this a fact or an opinion?” There are very few facts out there. Most of what we believe is opinion. Often we label an opinion as a fact because it serves our purpose and point of view. My sister told me drinking water makes her throat dry. (She doesn’t like to drink water.) Someone else told me that you only get one chance at love. (That can sure keep you from risking the dating game after being dumped, divorced or widowed.) Any time someone tells me they are too old to do something, I think of the numerous examples of people who started running, skiing or becoming a computer whiz in their 80s.
Recently, I attended a seminar on time management. Everything was going along fine until I was asked, along with everyone else, to break a board with my hand. I “knew” I couldn’t do it. But, I’d paid for the seminar, so I gave it a try. I banged that board with the side of my hand. Nothing happened. My team told me to try again. I gave that board a good wallop. Nothing happened. This was proof enough for me that I couldn’t break it, I was going to embarrass myself and it was wiser to give up. But, since I don’t believe anything I think, I examined that thought. Hadn’t I seen other women who were older than I crash through their boards? Hadn’t I been exercising at Curves for three years, three times a week? Hadn’t I had my oatmeal for breakfast? I set out to disprove my thinking. I wound up. I took a few practice swings. I yelled, “Hi Yah,” as I’d heard in all the Kung Fu movies and, importantly, I followed through. You guessed it cuz you’re all quick studies. (Fact or opinion?) I broke through that board. It didn’t have a chance once I dumped my old thought.
What about you? Do you have limiting thoughts that could be tossed?
When you chuck opinions that don’t work, you open up space for fresh ideas and opportunities. Just ask yourself, “Is this a fact or an opinion?” If it’s an opinion, challenge it. How is it serving you? Is it keeping you stuck or safe? I was scared to break the board. I thought I’d look foolish or hurt my hand. It would have been easier and safer to believe my old thought. It was an opinion that I couldn’t break the board. It’s a fact that I can.
Karen Susman, Speaker/Author/Coach, works with organizations and individuals that want to maximize their performance and quality of life. Check out her free tips and articles at www.karensusman.com. Karen can be reached at 1-888-678-8818 or [email protected].
Karen Susman – Remarkable Associations
3352 S. Magnolia Street
Denver, CO 80224