If you've ever worked with a life coach, you know that we will drive home the point that your emotional experience in life is created by your thoughts, and that thoughts are the place to focus if you want to change your life. We will often tell you that your circumstance is neutral, that it doesn't have any impact on you until you have a thought about it.
We do this because most circumstances are legitimately out of our control. I can't control other people, the weather, traffic, the government, or a host of other things that I think are causing me to feel a certain way. Some things I can technically control, but they take so much effort that choosing how to think about them may be more useful than changing the circumstance -- where I live, who my spouse is, the company I work for.
Circumstances trigger our brains to have thoughts based on the automatic neural pathways you have created with your thought patterns over the course of your life. You can, over time, rewire your brain to create new automatic thoughts. Using your senses can amplify this process and make it easier.
How something smells, feels, looks, sounds or tastes is technically a circumstance -- it exists outside of us. But it is a circumstance that can be easily controlled and manipulated to help us build the emotional experience we want, and help us rewire our brains more efficiently.
As a fitness instructor, I know that the music I use will trigger different thoughts and emotions in my participants. When I teach Body Flow, I use peaceful, quiet music for the meditation track. But when I teach Body Combat I use music with a strong, pulsing beat and lyrics to match. One of my members' favorite Body Combat tracks is called "Street fight." It makes sense because both the sounds and the lyrics of that song that are repeated over and over -- "I'm ready for a streetfight" -- trigger thoughts that create a fighting emotion that helps you punch and kick higher and harder, resulting in a stronger workout.
This weekend I attended a life coach conference in Austin. The purpose of the conference was to inspire us to keep changing lives and building our businesses. The theme was "Let's go!" They repeated this thought (let's go is a thought) over and over, and they used another of my favorite Body Combat songs, Jaxson Gamble's "Let's Go" as part of the conference soundtrack. The combination of the driving beat and a lyric that repeats over and over speeds up the creation of a new neural pathway. Since that conference, I have found myself continuing to think that thought frequently, replacing what my default thought may have been earlier -- I should stay in bed; or let's eat some ice cream; or I don't feel like it.
Because it's a new thought pattern, a baby thought if you will, I need to nourish it, be careful with it. If I don't keep reinforcing it, I will easily slip back into thinking, "Let's actually NOT go."
So I've started waking up each morning and using Jaxson Gamble's song to get me out of bed and working. And it works so well.
After the conference, my husband and I headed up the road another hour to go to Waco, where we visited Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia market. Everything in this little village is curated to invoke a feeling -- the music they play, the clean farmhouse look, the candles they're burning, the textures they use, and the food they sell.
My husband was surprised at how expensive everything was. I told him, "They're not selling things here. They're selling a feeling. And people will pay anything for a feeling." If you buy this set of porcelain measuring cups, you too will feel like Joanna Gaines when you're making your Easter dinner.
We bought a candle while we were there called, "Library." The scent of this candle honestly smells like an old library. It's actually not a super pleasing smell. But my husband loves old libraries, and it transported him there. It made him feel peaceful, intellectual, curious. And those are the feelings we purchased for $38 plus tax.
When I'm stressed, nothing calms me like my husband's touch. He often says if he simply reaches over to touch my arm he can see me visibly soften and relax. That touch triggers automatic thoughts of safety and comfort and that everything will be all right, producing the emotion of relaxation.
I had a therapist once tell me that she never yells in her home -- not even to tell the kids it's time for dinner. She said the extra effort it takes to walk up the stairs and knock gently on their door to let them know it's time for dinner is worth keeping the home's energy gentle and peaceful.
So think carefully about the thoughts you want to reinforce in yourself, in your marriage, and with your children. Is there a way to make those thoughts and feelings more accessible, curating your own desired experience in your home.
What music do you play? What tones of voice do you use? How do you use touch? What does your home smell like? What foods do you serve? What do you see when you look around?
Whether you want to motivate, calm, inspire, have fun, or create sexual desire with your spouse, pay attention to the external stimuli and use them to help trigger the thoughts and reinforce the feelings you want to create at that moment.