Watching Your Thoughts Is the Starting Point

Personal Growth Self Improvement



Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister of England and held that position from 1979 to 1990. Her story was recently portrayed in a movie entitled "The Iron Lady" starring Meryl Streep. One of the most powerful scenes, I believe, was when Mrs. Thatcher was talking with her physician after being sent to him by family and staff who believed that she was losing her mind.

The doctor began asking Mrs. Thatcher about how she was feeling, and she quickly responded that she thought people care more about feelings than about thoughts and ideas. She then added: "Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become. My father always said that, and I think I am fine."

We do live in a world where feelings often are given priority over thoughts. People engage in impulse buying in their attempts to feel good. Many use the term "retail therapy" to justify spending money. Others become involved in unhealthy relationships to avoid feeling lonely or unattractive. Some put all their financial resources into risky investments because they feel "lucky" and then lose everything.

Fear is a strong emotion and it can form bars that trap us in cages of our own making if we allow that to happen. Anger and hate can separate us from others. Worry can keep us awake at night and sadness can lead to serious depression over time.

Cognitive-behavioural therapists focus on the importance of choosing healthy thoughts and taking positive action rather than focusing on feelings. Mrs. Thatcher's perspective appears to coincide with this theoretical viewpoint.

There are many days that I do not feel like doing certain things, but I know that to be mature and responsible I must push the feelings aside and do the things that need to be done. And the interesting thing is that once I begin to do what is required, the feelings that threatened accomplishment usually change or disappear completely.

Affirmations are statements that you make about your situation. Often, they are negative and self-destructive but, with a little concentrated effort, you can rewrite the affirmations and change the way that your life will go as a result.

To be effective, affirmations must be believable and written in the present tense. Make sure that you say what you want instead of what you don't want. For example, instead of saying "I don't feel like doing this" you can say "I can begin".

Despite the political challenges Mrs. Thatcher had as a leader and the personal problems she was experiencing as she aged, she chooses to focus on her thinking and on repeating positive affirmations. As a result, she was able to tell the doctor "I think I am fine".

Do you use this technique? If not, today is a wonderful day to begin.

Purchase some recipe or index cards and on each, write a statement about what you want. Remember to use the present tense and craft ideas that are believable. Then use the cards as reminders of what you want. Carry them in your pocket or post them in places where they will remind you about what you want in your life. The more often you read and repeat the statements, the sooner you will notice positive changes.

And before you know it, you will be like Mrs. Thatcher and be able to say, "I think I am fine" or better yet, "I think I am wonderfully well!"


Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email office@drlindahancock.com


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