One of the most important things I teach my clients is the difference between thoughts and circumstances. When trying to go through the work of changing thoughts, this knowledge makes ALL the difference.
Circumstances are factual; they have to be so true that they could be proven in court. Everyone in the world would agree on it. Some examples of this are the weather, numbers on a scale, actual words someone said or someone’s age.
Thoughts are what we think about the circumstances. We could think, “Ugh, I’m so fat” after stepping on the scale. Or, “It’s 78 degrees- it’ll be a great day!”
Why is this so important to understand? I’m going to give a couple of scenarios to illustrate the importance of understanding the difference between the two.
Example #1: A woman’s husband does not text her back after she asks him when he will be home. This is a neutral circumstance but here are some thought options she could have. “Why does he ignore me? He does not make me a priority.” or “I hope he’s ok- it’s not like him to not respond.” or “I wonder how his day has been?” or “He’s probably sneaking around somewhere and doesn’t want to tell me.”
ALL of these thoughts would give very different results. Some would lead her to feeling curious about her husband, some accusing, some resentful. All about the same exact (NEUTRAL!!) circumstance.
Example #2: Your child is completely failing in school. All F’s. Neutral. Letters on a report card. Possible thoughts: “I must be the worst parent ever for him to be failing.” or “I wonder what’s going on is his life that is making him feel like not trying.” or “Sure seems like this is the experience he is supposed to have right now. I wonder what he is needing to learn?” or “He has the worst teachers ever! They do not appreciate how smart he is.” Can you see how every one of those thoughts would lead to various results? Again, all are thoughts about the same neutral circumstance.
When we are conditioned to think something is factual, it can really get in the way of our progress. If someone is told from an early age they are lazy, how do you think they are going to show up in their life? In their mind it is just a given- a circumstance that they have no control over. But when we can identify the thoughts that we are buying into as circumstances, we can make a conscious choice to choose something different. Isn’t that liberating?
Question your own thinking. What are you thinking is factual about yourself that may just be a thought? What circumstances are you creating drama in your life from? It’s all optional. You don’t have to. You get to think whatever you want!