“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” ~Dan Millman
I’d love to say I had an “Eat, Pray, Love” moment where sitting sobbing in the bathroom I received divine guidance to leave my husband and go traveling the world eating amazing food. But sadly, it wasn’t quite that profound.
It was more a long series of nights sobbing in the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror, and concluding “You’re broken.”
I wasn’t depressed and hadn’t been for a long time. My anxiety, a lifelong companion, was under control. So what was wrong?
A general feeling of discontent, a lack of energy and enthusiasm to do more, a loss of my spark, a quietening and turning inward, and these overwhelming onslaughts of negativity and tears whenever I felt criticized or something went wrong, which was often. A sense of resentment and frustration that I’m sure ensured those around me felt less inclined toward being loving and giving me the care that I needed.
So all those nights in the bathroom crying didn’t lead me to any insight, but thankfully the universe did send me guidance in other ways.
Someone posted a video to a Facebook group I was part of by a guy named Richard Wilkins. It was called “My F*ck It Jeans.”
Richard is well in his sixties, yet here he was making a Facebook video about how he doesn’t let his age dictate how he feels, acts, dresses, or his enjoyment of life. He doesn’t worry about others’ opinions or society’s views of how someone his age should be, but instead lives true to himself, and has never been happier. And here I was in my early thirties, feeling wiped out and like my spark for life had been put out before I’d even realized I had one!
Over the next year I followed Richard on Facebook, and was drawn to drive one fateful Saturday morning to Northampton, to his Recharge Day.
Richard always says, “The reason you are there is never the reason you are there.” This certainly proved true for me. I thought I was there to find out if the course would help my husband, but after I cried myself through the first half of the morning, I quickly realized I needed to be there for me.
“You are not broken.” Richard’s words cut into my thoughts.
Did I hear him right? Did he say I’m not broken? Did I dare to believe that? And how did he know that’s how I felt? There were over 200 people in the room. Was it possible that some of them also felt broken? If so, was it likely that I was the only one who really was?
It was this question that led me to turn up on Richard’s front door step a few months later to attend a five-day Broadband Consciousness (BC) course with him and his partner, Liz, and seven other strangers, who have now become friends.
For the next five days I shared things I’d not shared with anyone before. Then I shared more.
I listened and didn’t jump in with advice. I made no plan for what I must do when I got back from the course. I didn’t look at my phone.
I struggled, then I had a breakthrough, then I struggled harder. I spoke up when I did and found others had the same struggles. I supported others and they supported me in return.
I woke up easily and full of energy. I laughed. I cried. I ate lots of biscuits and didn’t care. I felt like a very heavy weight had been lifted from my back. I felt like life didn’t have to be so damn hard anymore.
I learned a way of separating that negative voice in my head (which BC calls “the script”) from the real me.
I learned that the script is anything that doesn’t serve me and I would not choose.
I learned to recognize the real me.
I learned that the script is just thoughts based on incorrect beliefs, and that they are not true.
I learned that if I’m not choosing my experiences, my actions, and my feelings, the script will choose for me.
I learned that it’s not necessary to listen to, analyze, or try to change the script. All I need to do is recognize when it is the script talking and not me. And not believe it. And not act on it.
And I learned this not from talking about myself but from witnessing other people and the script in their heads. Because guess what? The script told them they were broken too. And useless. And they always get it wrong. And they are fat and ugly. And they are not good enough. And they are not loved. And on and on… We were literally all reading from the same script!
Since returning from the course, the impact has stayed with me and grown. After over thirty years of listening to the script, for every month I spend not believing it I get to know the real me more and ignore the script more easily.
So how can we all take steps to turn away from the script and tune into our true selves?
First off, you have to recognize the script and be open to the possibility that what it’s saying isn’t true.
In fact, make it your job to discredit the script, to prove what it’s saying to be fake news.
Remember that time it said you were dying because you were having a panic attack? Not true!
What about the time it said you couldn’t do that thing, but then you did it? Yup, it was lying!
Oh, this is a good one—how about that time it said you were worthless and no one would hire you? Ho ho ho!
Once you recognize the script you will be surprised by how many times it pops up!
Secondly, remember that you are not the script.
Think of the script as a physical book. It has many chapters documenting every mistake we’ve ever made, all the bad things that could or have happened, detailing how we ‘should’ behave, think, and feel about every situation under the sun.
The script also has an audio version, which is what we can hear in our heads each day. But it is not us. It is just the script being read to us.
If the script says you are useless, this is not true, nor relevant. It is just the script’s opinion.
Mentally put down the script and accept that, although we can’t change what’s in it or get rid of it, we don’t need to read it all day long, and we certainly don’t need to act upon what it says.
Lastly, choose! Don’t let the script sit in the driver’s seat.
The script lives in our reptilian brain and is much faster at responding than our conscious brain. If we don’t consciously choose thoughts, feelings, and actions, the script will jump in and choose for us.
Start with small things: What would I choose to eat? What activities do I love? Be mindful of what you say. Cut off the script and choose to think of something else. Get out of bed at the time you planned to. Choose not to engage in arguments. Choose to take a bath or read a book.
Every small choice moves us away from the script and strengthens our choosing muscles.
Here are my top tips for doing so:
1. Laugh or smile.
I recently went to a laughter yoga class for the first time and learned that your body and mind don’t understand the difference between forced laughter and natural laughter.
When you smile or make a laughter sound it makes you feel better. It strengthens your relationship with your true self and draws you away from the script. So as well as remembering to smile and laugh for no reason, building opportunities to laugh into your life can also be a real help.
2. Focus on what the script doesn’t see.
When you’re walking down the street, the script is on high alert for potential threats. It’s trained to look out for all the negatives and potential problems. If you (your higher self) are not alert, you will listen to all the bad things the script has spotted, not just in the street but in your job, your relationship, the activity you’re doing, your children’s behaviour, your body… and on and on.
One way to practice disconnecting from the script and tuning into the real you is to focus in on all the good stuff the script filters out (in BC we call these “pearls”). Pearls don’t have to be anything huge. It could be a text from a friend, a hug for your child, a chance to grab a cup of tea in silence, or a warm bed at the end of a long day.
3. Be mindful of your language.
The more we look for something, the more it will show up in our life. This is true not just in terms of what we see in the world but also the stories we tell ourselves.
The reptilian brain (where the script lives) doesn’t take time to fact-check what it tells us, yet because it’s coming from inside our own head we tend to believe it. It’s like taking in a headline but not reading or researching the article, then accepting that headline as fact and maybe even repeating it to others.
So, if someone asks you how you are and you immediately jump in with “tired” or “stressed,” this is what you will believe and therefore how you will feel. If you moan about your partner or say critical things to them, you are repeatedly telling yourself that your partner isn’t good enough. How do you think this affects how you feel and act toward them? And the response you get in return?
Start choosing instead of allowing the script to choose for you.
Choose food you know will make you feel good. Arrange activities that bring you joy. Say no to that event you don’t really want to go to. Choose to go for a walk at lunchtime. Choose to give your opinion or choose to forget the ironing and take a bath.
Do whatever you feel called to do when you really tune into your feelings rather than letting autopilot or society’s demands take over.
5. Let it pass.
A food craving lasts three minutes, so if you can ignore it for that long it will be gone. I’ve found it’s the same with the script.
When something triggers the script and you suddenly feel angry, sad, or inundated with critical thoughts, it will generally abate after a few minutes. No need to act on the script either by saying something or doing something. Let it pass, then, when you’re no longer in the script, decide if you need to act.
Also, remember that whatever triggered the script is not responsible for your subsequent feelings, it is the script making you feel bad, not your colleague, partner, or the guy who cut in front of you in the line.
6. Share. Learn. Explore.
The world of self-development can be overwhelming. The script will always tell you that you need to learn more, fix this problem, work on yourself just a bit more. Be conscious of this and instead stick to readings and learnings that align with the simple practices I have mentioned above.
Focus on sharing as you learn rather than feeling drawn to learn more and more and more. This will reinforce the messages and in turn, you will learn through the telling.
Be aware of your learning style. If you learn from sharing, then talk to people about what you have learned here. If you learn from writing, write about your experiences or doodle your own version of how to explain the script to a stranger.
When we share what we have learned and help others, we move away from ourselves and our own problems, and this prevents us from dwelling and drawing more problems to us.
Everyone says this, but it’s for good reason. Exercising for twenty minutes a day is as effective in boosting your mood as some antidepressants. So whether you’re depressed or not, that has got to be good for you! It gets you out of your head, where the script is, and into your body.
By getting into your body, you can tune into your conscious mind, and you’ll likely find that ideas, inspiration, and solutions to your problems present themselves.
8. Listen to music that uplifts you.
Similarly, use music to get yourself out of your head and into a chosen state. Choose music that reminds you of happy times, or music that gets you energized and ready for inspired action.
9. Get competitive but not angry.
Try to avoid getting angry with the script, since it’s only trying to help, although ineffectively. Instead, develop a healthy competition with it.
If the script thinks you are too lazy to go for a walk, do it.
If the script thinks you are too scared to do something you’d love to do, do it anyway.
If the script thinks you should say no to an amazing opportunity, ignore it.
If the script wants you to lose it with your partner, choose not to.
Thank the script for its input, but remind it that your real self has the resources, experiences, and skills to deal with life without its help.
10. Keep asking, “Is this true? Would I choose this?”
Odds are, once you tune into your higher self, you’re realize the answer is no. And you’ll be able to choose for yourself instead of letting the script run the show.