When failure knocks, what you think matters more than you might think

"Wowser, that was a spectacular failure. A total disaster. I’ll avoid ever doing that again".

Ever found yourself thinking things like this? I know I have! It’s likely that most of us have at one time or another, and a lot of it is due to our in-built negativity bias. So if it’s in-built in us and we all do it, well, it can’t be that bad, right?! 

WRONG.

It’s important that we mind our mind when things don’t go to plan, as this shapes our eventual success. Let me explain...

You are an iceberg.
No, I don’t mean that you’re cold, massive, and drifting aimlessly {lol}, I mean that we as people have waaaay more going on under the surface that is often ever realised. So let’s take a peek at what’s just under the surface {meaning I’m not going to go too deep into any psychological theory, just a veritable scratching of the surface}. If I may, let’s go down 3 of the first layers, starting with the 3rd layer… 

The 3rd layer is your thoughts. 
The internal chatter that is often non-stop. It’s the judgement, perception, it’s the way you make sense of the world. When you’re concentrating, what you think to yourself is often different to what you actually say {but when you’re not concentrating or are in a state of heightened emotion, you're less able to 'filter' and you may find you blurt things out that you wouldn’t ordinarily, well, blurt! Can I get a ‘heck yes’ from anyone whose done that before!?} Your thoughts sit some way below the surface which means remain unknown to others {unless you choose to share your thoughts}. 

The 2nd layer is your emotions. 
These are #allthefeels that you feel. The good, the bad, and everything in between. This layer bobs just below the surface, and depending on your high-water mark, can be visible sometimes, and hidden at other times {regardless of whether or not you intend either to be the case}. 

The 1st {or top} layer is your behaviour. 
This is what you ‘do’. It’s what’s plainly evident to everyone around you. It’s above the waterline and is the visible ‘tip of the iceberg’ {so to speak}.

So how do all these things connect? Well, it goes a little something like this… 

THINK ~ FEEL ~ DO ~ {REPEAT}. 

It all starts with what you’re thinking. Your thoughts are very powerful, and as a result, trigger your emotional responses {'feel'}. For example, have you ever cast your mind {aka, your thoughts} back to a memory of something significant in your life, and just thinking about that experience made you feel exactly the same way again as you did in the moment? That’s your thoughts triggering your emotions. 

Next, your emotions have the capacity to drive your behaviour. Ever found you can achieve more in a day when you’re in a good mood? That you can find answers more easily, get more stuff done, and you make less mistakes? Or maybe you’re feeling down, so you withdraw from conversation, take yourself away from being around others, or lash out uncharacteristically? That’s essentially your emotions driving your behaviour.

We then will often process/dwell/reflect {aka, think}, about what we’ve done/what's happened, which then starts the cycle off again.

So again, put simply we THINK ~ FEEL ~ DO ~ {REPEAT}.
With this being the case, it stands to reason that the outcomes we achieve, be they positive or negative, first start with what we’re thinking about the situation, what we’re judging/perceiving, and what we’re telling ourselves. Put plainly {and any neuroscientists reading this, please excuse me for my simplistic explanation}, the more you think about something, the more neurons in your brain fire off and wire together, thus creating a neural pathway. Thoughts then traversing this pathway then trigger your emotion {i.e. motivation, anticipation, hope, or apprehension, anxiety, nervousness, etc.}, which then drives how you respond/what you do. And the more you THINK ~ FEEL ~ DO ~ {REPEAT}, the stronger the neural pathway becomes and therefore the more habitual the thoughts and associated actions become  [and move out of your conscious brain and into your subconscious}. This in essence means that your thoughts become your reality.

But beware, once in your subconscious, your brain makes no distinction between negative and positive.
So if you’re telling yourself negative things, you’ll feel negative, and then respond/act/behave in a negative way. And because of the neural pathway that has been created, the more you strenthen it through repetition, the more automatic and self-fulfilling the veritable prophesy {thought} becomes. On the flipside however, if you’re telling yourself positive things, you’ll feel more positive, and will then respond/act/behave in a more positive manner. The outcome you achieve often starts with what you’re telling yourself.
There’s a quote that basically sums this whole piece up…

‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right’. – Henry Ford {thanks, Hank!}. So start by telling yourself that you can do something, keep telling yourself that as you go, and you'll be setting yourself up with the best chance to navigate the inevitable 'mistakes' along the way that lead you to eventual success.

**CAVEAT** please don’t misunderstand me in any of this – I’m not saying that negative thoughts or emotions are bad. We are designed to experience these for a reason, and ALL thoughts and emotions serve a purpose when experienced in the right situation, to the right extent, at the right time. We need them. Equally so, I’m not suggesting that the only thoughts we should think are positive ones – that’s not healthy for us, nor is it realistic, I’m just saying we need to be aware that we can make our thoughts our reality.

So it’s important that you mind your mind and make sure that what you’re telling yourself is the best-fit for the situation at hand. It might just be the difference between success and failure for you.

Oh, and if you wanted to learn how to mind your mind, I’ve got some free resources that you might find useful that I’d be happy to share. You know how to get in touch, so feel free! It would be my pleasure to help you forge ahead in this.

Until next time!

With love + joy,

Cath xo

Catherine Doocey