The problem you’re having might not be what you think. Instead, it might just be what you’re thinking.
Human beings are meaning-making machines. We have thousands of thoughts every day in rapid succession. We have thoughts all day long about the circumstances we encounter, about our past, and about our future. Most of the time for most people, these thoughts arise automatically without awareness. We often don’t pay attention to the way our thoughts are creating the experience of our lives. Becoming aware gives us the option of deciding whether or not we want to keep cultivating any given belief, or if we want to believe something else.
The purpose of a thought download is to create awareness of the thoughts you’re thinking. A thought download is just writing down on paper all the thoughts you’re thinking without judging, editing, or censoring them. It’s important to acknowledge what’s really there, without shoving it aside as too ugly or embarrassing to admit.
It’s like cleaning out a closet. If you really want to get organized and intentional about the physical space of a closet so it’s at its most functional, you pull everything out to see what’s in there. Then, one item at a time, you decide whether you want to get rid of that item or keep it and give it a place. If you never pull out the disheveled purple pillow in the shape of a lightbulb that you made in 7th grade home ec. class, it keeps taking up space in the closet and you don’t ever decide whether it’s treasure or trash.
It can be challenging to fully open to the thought download. We might not want to admit that we are still harboring thoughts we’ve had since childhood. Facing what we really think takes courage. We do have thoughts that aren’t serving us in creating the life we want, so we may as well admit it to ourselves. We can have compassion for the very good reasons our brains have for the thoughts the offer us and still go on to decide whether or not those thoughts are serving us.
A regular practice of doing thought downloads helps you begin to see why you’re getting the results you’re getting in your life and increases your awareness of the optional thoughts that are creating these results. Letting go of judgment and censorship cultivates self-compassion. It’s essential to doing this exercise effectively.
A thought download doesn’t need to take more than 5 or 10 minutes and can be done any time of day. Create a regular practice of doing it once a day at a convenient time. Choose a time and place and equip it with pen and paper readily available. Use a dedicated notebook or random loose-leaf paper. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. If you don’t know what to write, write “I don’t know what to write” and keep going. Start writing and don’t stop until the page is full or the timer runs out.
We are more powerful than we often realize. We create our own experience with our thoughts. It’s powerful to know. In fact, it’s the best news ever because it means that you are in the driver’s seat of your own experience. The first step is building awareness of the thoughts you’re already thinking, so grab a pen and paper and find out what’s in there.