Saturday, July 17, 2010

If You Think You Cannot, Then You'd Be Correct. But It's Not The First Time You've Been Wrong

What a week it's been! Oh it began well enough, I was excited about working and looking forward to helping people change their lives throughout the week to come. However, what started as an uncomfortable tickle in the back of my throat Monday morning, turned into an angry field of razorblades by Monday evening, complete with painfully ringing ears in case the message of “you're sick!” wasn't coming through loud enough. Tuesday was more of the same, along with body aches and fever settling in for an unannounced visit. It wasn't like I could tell all of these uninvited pathogens to take a hike either - my voice resembled rough gravel at that point - but I sure gave it the ole college try with all of my groaning and whining. By Wednesday I'd had enough, I wasn't going to take this bug lying down, I was going to work and that was that. Two hours later I was right back in bed and stayed there until Friday morning. This week I had a goal: work every single day. To say this goal was an exercise in futility is an understatement, but it seems like the card of the day wants me to put a finer point on it. Not just to teach myself a valuable life lesson, but perhaps to share one with you as well.

The seven of Swords, also known as “Futility”, paints a picture of the human psyche as it relates to goal setting and negative self-talk. How often do you make a goal and just as quickly talk yourself out of it? Yes, there are times when this sort of conversation is necessary, just look at me last week, I was genuinely ill. But what about those times when the things holding you back are all in your head with no basis in reality? It's those kinds of times that the seven of swords warns us about. Notice the large, central sword, and consider this to be the visual representation of your goal (example: going back to school), and all six of those smaller, downward pointing swords are the thoughts and self-dialog you use to talk yourself out of your goal (I can't afford it, I don't have time, there are no jobs in my field of interest, no one can watch my kids,...). If the term “futility” is just too heavy for you, let's call this the “yes, but..” card instead. “Yes, I want to do this thing, but I can't because...” and on with the looping tape of self-defeat.

What's important to remember is this card also represents the mind that knows what it wants. You do have a goal after all, you just happen to be working harder on talking yourself out of it than you are at actually working on the goal in mind. Who says you can't put a period after the “yes” and remove the “but” all together? If your mind is filled with negative self-talk, then interrupt yourself long enough to ask for some evidence of proof.

Remember that scene in Pee-wee's Big Adventure when Pee-Wee and Simone are watching the sunrise from inside the giant dinosaur's mouth, and Simone's talking about how all her life she's dreamed of going to Paris but she just can't? I crack up just thinking about it, because what happens next is Pee-wee delivers possibly the best pun in the history of film when he says, “Everyone I know has a big But... C'mon, Simone, let's talk about *your* big But.” Don't take my word for it, take Pee-wee's advice, and that of several psychologists, confront your habit of negative self-talk with some challenging questions.

1 Test Reality

  • What evidence do I have to support (or negate) this thinking?

  • What facts do I have, or am I just interpreting things this way?

  • Could I be jumping to conclusions?

  • How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?

2 Look for alternatives

  • Are there other ways to look at this situation?

  • What else could this mean?

  • If I were being positive, how would I perceive this situation?

  • If my friend was in this situation, what advice would I give them?

3 Put it in perspective

  • Is this situation as bad as I am making out to be?

  • What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is it?

  • What is the best thing that could happen?

  • What is most likely to happen?

  • Is there anything good about this situation?

  • Will this matter in five years time?

4 Use goal directed thinking

  • Is thinking this way helping me to feel good or to achieve my goals?

  • What can I do that will help me solve the problem?

  • Is there something I can learn from this situation, to help me do it better next time?

The ultimate message within the Seven of Swords is to tune into your negative self-talk and silence it through action. By challenging your thinking in this way, you can break free from the cycle of repeating negative self-talk. Which will then set you on a path towards actualizing your goals and seeing measurable progress in your life. If you would like to book a reading with me to see what other messages are in the cards for you, please visit my website.