Here we are in our last week of Goodbye Negative Thinking Month! For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been laying out the pillars of the Goodbye Negative Thinking Trinity: First, we discussed the importance of starting each day with positive momentum. Then last week I taught you the second pillar which was all about calibrating and being the dominant vibration in the room.
Today, we’re going to discuss the last pillar of the Goodbye Negative Thinking Trinity which helps you keep that positive momentum going ALL DAY LONG! AND I’ve got another free fabulous gift for you to make it easier than ever to stop your negative thinking!
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Now – let’s get to this third pillar of the Goodbye Negative Thinking Trinity: Intention Chunking. It’s only going to take minutes of your day and the bang you get for this buck is life-changing!!
Well, what the heck is that, Abby?! Let me lay it out for you:
So, you’ve read my last two blog posts and you’ve set up a good morning for yourself by first creating some positive momentum. You’re calibrating to a higher vibrational emotion and that feels good too! The problem is that you now have a whole day ahead of you and you’re not sure how to keep that going.
The big issue is that you get on autopilot and then you “wake up” as your work day is winding down, let’s say at 4:00pm, noticing that you’re feeling exhausted, that you snapped at your partner earlier when they asked what you wanted for lunch and that you completely zoned out in that last Zoom meeting and now you don’t remember what you’re supposed to do to finish your latest project!
Getting off of autopilot is the key to not only stopping negative thoughts, but of living a joyful, connected, peaceful life! I’ve talked a ton about mindfulness and this Intention Chunking is related to it.
When you start regular Intention Chunking not only will it help these negative thoughts and set you up for positive ones, but it’ll also help you be more mindful in all things. This means that your relationships and mood will all improve!
We’ve got to chat about that RAS again!
So, let’s get to the nitty gritty here. That autopilot I spoke of before is your nemesis. It’s the kryptonite to your superman. It’s the termites eating at your happiness. Because every fight you have is due to autopilot. All your frustrations, impatience and negative thoughts are because you weren’t paying attention. When you’re paying attention, you avoid this stuff.
When you’re Intention Chunking, you’re not only aware in your day, but you’re setting an intention for what you want which gets a part of your brain called your Reticular Activating System, or your RAS, primed and geared.
If you’re struggling with negative thinking, you’ve likely been spending quite a bit of time focusing on all the things you think are wrong with yourself, other people or the world. When you start thinking like this, you start to see the negative everywhere.
Essentially, you start proving yourself right. This happens because of your RAS which is a network of neurons located in the brain stem and it’s where most of your senses come in.
Your RAS is a filter between your conscious brain and your subconscious. Specifically, it takes instructions from your conscious mind and passes them on to your subconscious. You’re constantly giving your RAS instructions by what you’re thinking about – the problem is that you don’t even realize it.
So, if you’re thinking, “I’m stuck,” or “the world is a horrible place,” or “my boss hates me” the RAS hears this as the instruction or order to look for those things!
Sure enough, you find “proof” and evidence everywhere of your boss hating you or terrible things happening in the world. As I’ve mentioned before, the RAS is the reason you’ll suddenly notice a bunch of Toyota Highlanders on the road when you’re thinking of buying one.
And here’s the really scary part (in case I haven’t blown your mind enough): your RAS will also filter out anything that doesn’t match what you’re thinking! So, when your boss is appreciative, when a stranger is kind to you or when you make progress on an issue that had you stuck, you won’t see it!
The good news is that you can deliberately program the RAS by thoughtfully choosing the exact messages you send, and Intention Chunking is a great way to get there!
Intention chunking is basically setting an intention with every new “chunk” of your day. Every time you move from one activity to another, you’re going to stop and set an intention for how you want that next chunk of time to be.
I’ve chatted a lot about setting intention, which I also call the 18-Second Shift because I’ve timed it and it takes an average of 18 seconds to do.
Basically, it’s about taking a breath and then saying what you intend before you enter into a new situation. For example, before I walk in the house at night after work, I set an intention for how I want to be when I walk in that house. It gets me off of autopilot (running into the house and ordering everyone around – Did anyone start dinner? Has everyone done their homework?). As I start running around like a lunatic “getting things done,” my energy, of course, isn’t great. I come across as impatient, bossy and controlling (I come across that way because I am those things in those moments)! When I set an intention to be patient, fun, easy going and kind, I come across that way. I give off that energy or vibration and people can’t help but respond to it.
Every time you enter into a new activity, phase or situation in your day, your intentions are changing. Let me take you through my morning before starting work:
- I wake up and, as my feet hit the floor, I set an intention to have an amazing day and notice all the possibilities that present themselves.
- Before going in the shower, my intention is to relax and enjoy the feel of the warm water.
- Then my intention shifts as I make breakfast. Now I want to bring my energy up a little and eat mindfully.
- Before I go wake up my kids for school, I set an intention to be warm, nurturing and connecting with them
- Before getting too involved with my day, I make sure to take time in the morning to set intention with Gary – usually it’s to be filled with loving and enthusiastic emotion for him.
- When I’m driving to work my intention is to pay attention, get there safely and notice something fun or interesting along the way.
- When I’m readying myself for my first client of the day, my intention is to listen really well and be of service.
With each new chunk of time I want you to think to yourself, “What do I want to see happen or feel in this next chunk of time?” When you just go along on autopilot in your day, you end up reacting to things as they come.
Let’s think of some specific examples:
Picture you, your partner and your kids driving to visit your parents (you can insert anyone you want on this drive) who live four hours away.
Without Intention Chunking you’re on autopilot. You’re caught up in making sure the kids get some exercise before having to sit in the car for so long. You pester your partner with a bunch of “to do’s” before the drive. You’re trying to straighten up, so you don’t come home to a mess. You’re dreading the drive because your partner will want to listen to one of their boring podcasts or that music you don’t like, and you just know there’s going to be some tension. You’re worried about the kids having activities in the car for so long. While you’re packing up drinks and snacks to take along, you’re thinking about how your dad is going to ask again about your work and what you’re doing for that promotion. Meanwhile, your mom will be passive aggressive and criticize your parenting but all with a smile. Sigh.
Can you feel the energy of all that? Sound familiar?
Now, let’s do some Intention Chunking before the drive:
- I’m wanting this time of cooking breakfast for my kids to be filled with feelings of love and connection. I love my kids so much. I’m so grateful that they’re in my life. I learn so much about myself as I watch my kids living their lives.
- It’s so great to see the world through the eyes of my 3-year-old. Everything’s so new and exciting. I love feeling the curiosity and endless possibilities that are before us.
- We’re going to have a lovely ride together.
- We’re going to laugh and bond as a family.
- We’re going to get there safely and calmly.
- It’s my intention that we get along well and have fun.
- It’s my intention that I have a great day today and connect with my parents in new ways I haven’t even thought of yet.
- I’m happily anticipating an amazing day today.
- There will be so many cool things that happen today.
- I know that life is good for me and I’m anticipating lots of good things to show up today in lots of different ways.
- This is going to be a wonderful day with lots of new understandings and conversations that open me up in amazing ways.
- I’m looking forward to seeing my kids interact with my parents in new ways.
- I’m looking forward to showing my partner how much I love and appreciate them.
- Anytime something comes up today that might have bothered me previously, I’m going to see it through the eyes of patience and love.
- I’m so happy that things don’t bother me the way they used to.
Here’s another scenario. Let’s say you’ve had an argument with a friend. Before you meet with them, you do some Intention Chunking:
- I’m wanting our interaction to be mutually satisfying.
- I want to see my friend through new eyes that find the good everywhere with them.
- I’m eagerly looking forward to having this conversation so we can forge a new level in our relationship and become even closer!
- I’m looking forward to being in more alignment with my friend.
- I want our conversation to come together easily, succinctly and with so much kindness.
- I want both of us to walk away feeling even more connected.
- I want both of us to walk away feeling enthusiastic for this new understanding we have with one another and excited about our future together as friends.
And here’s a general scenario before going into a meeting at work. You say to yourself:
- I’m going to be the dominant positive vibration in this meeting.
- Everyone in attendance is going to be open to new ideas.
- We’re all going to collaborate and feel creative!
- Everyone’s going to listen and really hear one another.
- I expect that everyone in the meeting has my best interests at heart, just like I have theirs.
- My goal is to be a leader and contributor to great things in this meeting.”
With Intention Chunking, you say what you intend to happen You’re no longer reacting to what happens around you. You’re creating what happens around you.
Plan Your Feelings!
Think of this, you plan all kinds of things in your world. You plan vacations, work days, and budgets. You create to-do lists and plan events. Why wouldn’t you plan your feelings?!?
Why aren’t we taught this from day one?! Your feelings are more important than anything! You can plan a perfect wedding day, but if you feel anxious, worried or impatient that day, you’ll ruin your day!
Everything in your world is, ultimately, broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. When you sit down to eat, you cut your food into bite-sized pieces and go bite by bite. When you have a big project due at work, you break it down step by step. If you were driving across the country, you’d plan your trip, but it would be broken down stop by stop.
As you break things down, each piece is under your control. When you think about “all you need to do” you can get overwhelmed, have negative thoughts and feelings and even get paralyzed and do nothing! But, when you focus on just that next step, you have self-efficacy, you feel accomplished and in control and you even start to get energized and build momentum!
I want to end this month of saying goodbye to negative thinking with this: it’s not about trying to keep negative thoughts away – because that, in a way, attracts them.
Instead, it’s about feeling good as often as possible. That’s where I want you to focus. It’s about being as proactive as possible in your positive thoughts. Get ahead of it. Start the positive momentum early with calibrating and Intention Chunking throughout your day.
Your present moment is where all your power is. It’s called your Powerful Now because it’s truly where all your power is. You have the option in this moment to hook up to your inner power/higher self/inner being. There’s choice in your now but there’s no choice in your past and we’re not in the future yet. It’s. Right. Now.
The more often you choose these higher vibrational thoughts and feelings, the easier and more automatic it becomes. Remember, beliefs are just thoughts that you’ve had over and over. You can create new beliefs with having new thoughts over and over.
Remember, it’s much harder to wait until things happen and then try to adjust your reaction to them. It’s much easier to already have your headspace and emotion set and then deal with what comes in (and what comes in might actually change of course, or at least your perception of it)!
If I’m in a great space of love and generosity with my partner and then he says something I don’t like, I have a MUCH better chance of either not noticing it or having it impact me far less. I will likely have compassion instead, “Oh, he must be very frightened to say something like that, I need to love him up more.” Or, I might realize that he didn’t mean all the bad things I normally ascribe to what he said and he’s instead, just saying something innocuous.
If you find yourself with a negative thought and feeling, you’re focusing on what you don’t want. So, the quickest route to feeling better is to think of what you do want. If you’re thinking, “I’m angry at my dad. He’s such a jerk! I can’t believe he X!” turn it around by thinking of what you do want: “I want a loving relationship with my dad. I want to feel connected. I want to feel joy. I want to laugh with him.”
My free gift this week is a short guided visualization to stop negative thinking. Listen to it any time of the day to help you direct your thoughts in a positive direction!
You might think that your default is negativity or negative self-talk, and that might be true right now, but it’s learned. You can change your mental patterns with consistent practice so that you have new, more positive default settings in your brain. When you repeat what I’m teaching you over and over, you rewire your brain. You create new neural pathways through a process called neuroplasticity. The same process that hard-wired in the negativity, can hard-wire in more positivity.