Don't Argue With Your Thoughts, FIRE THEM |
Imagine that you are the CEO of a fledgling company with a bright, promising future.
You’re passionate about the direction of your company, and even though you and your team have fallen victim to missteps in the past, you have every intention of starting fresh and kicking ass non-stop into the future.
You’re amped and ready to make some biz magic happen. Except you have one very unfortunate workplace problem…
Marcy is a snot-nosed intern who’s been around for way too long. She drags everyone down with her constant negativity and is straight-up insubordinate.
“Really? You’re going to implement a new OS to increase productivity? Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it…this place is a dump.”
You don’t even know where Marcy came from. You have no idea what her role is, but her only function within the company right now is to laugh at you during meetings and remind you of all the ways in which you’re currently failing.
You’ve tried to get her on board so many times, but Marcy consistently manages to turn things around and get you to sink to her level. She’s always right, you’re always wrong, and you're left feeling lowly and incompetent.
Which is really fucked up and backwards, right? Cause you’re the boss; it shouldn’t be this way.
But she’s such a persuasive, sneaky, mean girl of a bully. She waltzes into your office whenever she feels like it to tell you that you suck. And you put up with it. Sigh.
So judging from what you know about Marcy, what might be the best course of action?
You need to put on your big boss-lady pants and take your power back. It’s time to fire the fuck outta Marcy. She’s a downer and a liability; you and your team deserve better. Everyone’s going to be better off if you finally let her go and hire a new, thoughtful, supportive, eager-to-please replacement.
Super obvious, right?
Yes - because when something is relentlessly dysfunctional and unsupportive, it makes sense to get rid of it and replace it ASAP. Whether that thing is an employee, a boyfriend, or a junky coffee-maker, there have to be better options out there.
But there’s one area where we really wrestle with this obvi-logic (if it doesn’t work, fire and new hire), and that is when it comes to our thinking.
When we find ourselves caught in patterns of dysfunctional, unsupportive mental processing (ie. thinking shitty, unhappy thoughts), we almost never approach things this way.
We think we need to explore and converse with our own negativity. We feel inclined to sit with our negative thoughts, to attempt to understand them. We invite them into our offices for the umpteenth time to try and reason with them, to see if we can get them on board.
But here’s the truth about negative thinking and painful, self-defeating internal narratives: they cannot be reasoned with, because they are not reasonable. They are a bunch of Marcy’s.
If we notice a pattern (ie. “I’m lazy and useless…” or “Nobody likes me…”), we usually mistakenly assume that we can rationalize our way out of mental mistreatment. We treat this type of habitual thinking like a problem we can solve.
But again, consider Marcy for a moment. It wouldn’t make sense to invite Marcy into the office for a heart-to-heart when we know she’s just going to berate us and override everything we say. Gosh, we’ve done it before and seen no results. Marcy’s been around too long. If Marcy could change her ways, she probably would have by now.
It’s a waste of time to keep trying the the thoughtful, rational, reasonable approach when we could just, um…replace her.
And that is precisely how I suggest utilizing this analogy to serve you in positive thinking.
You don’t need to get to the bottom of your negativity. You don’t need to understand where “I’m lazy and useless,” came from, or wrestle with it any longer. You can if you want to, and an amazing therapist can help you do that if it feels important, but if you’re sick of insubordinate thoughts, why not let them go and replace them with a better, more supportive, feel-good version?
Hire a new intern, aka: introduce a new thought.
Usually, the exact opposite of whatever you’ve been telling yourself works beautifully.
As an example, we can flip “I’m lazy and useless,” to “I’m proactive and useful.” (Byron Katie calls this a “turnaround”.)
Imagine this new phrase passing through the halls of your busy mind every day this week.
True or not true, with evidence to support this belief or none to speak of, you relentlessly repeat it to yourself. You write it down on post-it’s and stick them in your planner, next to your toothbrush holder, on the dashboard of your car.
You begin to entertain the possibility that you might be proactive and useful. You start to believe it might be true. You start to notice all the ways in your life in which you are, in fact, proactive and useful. Hmm…
The problem here is that most of us are too smart for our own good. We think the inner-workings of our busy minds are more complicated than “fire and new hire”. Surely that won’t work, because we really are lazy and useless, and we need to understand how we got to be that way and how we can turn it around.
And I’m telling you that if you just start turning the thought around once, twice, forty-five times a day, everything can change for you.
Marcy’s gone. Everyone’s happier. Meetings run smoother. You don’t feel undermined constantly. The new intern is a dream. You can move ahead without all of that impossible negativity holding you down.
You can replace anything that isn’t working for you at any time. You’re the CEO, boss-lady. You don’t have to reason with or entertain thoughts, behaviors, or internal rumblings that make you feel shitty about yourself, or prevent you from moving forward.
Don’t waste your time trying to get Marcy-like thinking on board with you. Marcy doesn’t want to be supportive. She doesn’t know how - that’s not how she functions. Marcy had the chance to stop sucking, and she failed miserably.
Develop a one-strike policy with soul-sucking and life-negating thoughts and beliefs. Sorry Marcy, you’ve gotta go.
Because trust me, one week without Marcy terrorizing the office and you will notice a tremendous difference. Everything feels more possible. You don’t second-guess yourself as much. You feel like the boss again; you can breathe a little bit. Don’t you want that for yourself? Wouldn’t that be great? Yes, so don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
Write down the one or two big, hairy-scary, unhappy beliefs that continue to haunt you, and flip them on their heads. This is your new hire. Play around with it. Treat this new thought like the new intern - see how it goes when you work with her.
You will start to notice how much of your external world can be influenced in changing the way you talk to and about yourself. Give yourself this gift - let the Marcy-like thoughts go, and bring on a new team. A team that supports you and makes you feel great about yourself. Watch how you flourish; you won't miss your old ways of thinking and being for a second.