Be careful of your thoughts....



In his book "Three Cups of Tea" (which, if you haven't yet read, is an incredibly inspiring book and one which I thoroughly recommend) Greg Mortenson quotes a passage from the Upanishads - a collection of ancient texts that contain the earliest religious ideas of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.

I love it because it illustrates so clearly and beautifully how our thinking shapes who we are now and who we can be in the future.


What I find most interesting about this quote is the word "destiny". In many belief systems, destiny represents a predetermined course of events over which mere mortals have no control. But this quote links destiny directly to our thoughts and actions. The idea that we are able to influence our destiny through the ways in which we think suggests that if we accept that thoughts can be consciously controlled, then we are the architects of our own future.


If we can believe this, then we are capable of achieving anything.


This resonates with me because it corresponds with my perspective of the coaching process. I often use the analogy of an iceberg with my clients - what you see above the waterline is only a small part of the whole person. People typically come to coaching with either a problem they want to resolve, a goal they want to achieve but there's so much more going on under the surface. And that's before we even get into the psyche!


When I start coaching a client, we discuss what's going on for them in the here and now and how they would like things to be instead (character / destiny), then we look at what they're doing that is creating or contributing to the situation. This helps them to see the part they play and what they're doing that might be getting in the way (habits / actions). Sometimes, at this point, a client will recognise what they're doing and know what they need to do differently. But more often, this on its own is not enough and we need to get below the waterline to find out what's driving those behaviours (thoughts).


So when I coach, I'm helping my client to think about what feelings they're having when they behave in certain ways, and what thoughts they have that are driving those feelings. And this is the really important bit: changing how you think about something can change the way you feel about it.


When you feel differently, you behave differently.


As Einstein said: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."


Some questions to ponder:

  • who or what do you want to be?

  • what are you doing now that might be helping or hindering you in achieving your future destiny?

  • what are you feeling that leads to those behaviours?

  • what are the thoughts behind the feelings?

  • how can you re-frame those thoughts?

  • what differences do you notice in your feelings when you think in these new, different ways?

  • what can / will you do differently as a result?

  • how will this affect who you are now?

  • how will this affect your future?

 

Joss Anderson is an ICF-accredited coach, Reiki practitioner and the founder of the Wild Edges.

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