NB – there is no audio available for this exercise
In preparation for the week ahead, you are going to start becoming aware of your thinking. For some of you, you are already well aware of some of the thoughts going on that you would desperately like to change.
What we will be looking for is the pattern of thinking that you habitually use and how it is in conflict with reality.
You start to identify this by becoming the observer of your thoughts. Try not to judge these thoughts, but instead, become interested and curious about them. These are the memes that have been set up from your childhood and it is these belief systems that you will need to become aware of so that you can change them.
As I have discussed you will do this by becoming aware of them in the present moment. After all, it is in this present moment that these thoughts exist. Not in the past. Not in the future, but now in this current moment in time.
Try to detach from these thoughts by remembering that these thoughts do not define you. They are not reality. They are just thoughts.
Here are the instructions for following this exercise:
1. Start by becoming aware of how you are feeling. As soon as you feel yourself being angry, guilty, down, bad about yourself etc, start observing what you are saying to yourself. What is the conversation going on in your mind? (Remember, you won’t be able to catch all of your thoughts, however just catch as many as you can. You will get better at this as you keep doing it.
2. Become the observer and stay curious and interested in what is going on in your mind. You are educating yourself on what memes are in your brain. These are what cause you to feel stressed or depressed.
3. Get yourself a new notebook and turn to a double page.
4. On the left hand side of the page, list 5 thoughts that you catch per day that cause you to feel badly or that you believe are contributing to your stress, depression or anxiety.
5. Do this every day for the next 7 days.
6. Contemplate where you think each thought comes from. Where did you learn to believe this thought to be true? Whose belief is it? Is it really yours or did it come from the mind of someone else (mum, dad, teacher, society, religion, family values, observations, a result of an experience).
7. Challenge your belief and ask yourself whether there has ever been a time where this belief has not been true (for example, does it apply to everyone? Or just you? Why just you and not everyone? Has there ever been a time where this was not the case? Is there a possibility that sometimes the opposite can happen?)
8. At the bottom of the page, write a few words about how you think this belief was set up and whether or not you believe it is a belief that you wish to hold onto.
9. Rate this belief out of 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being the highest) as to how true this belief is if applied to everybody.
10. Leave the other side of the page blank, as we are going to come back to this exercise and upgrade these thoughts to be in alignment with reality at the end of week five.