Stop looking for evidence of what you don’t want

evidence

You know that uneasy feeling you get when you know you’re doing something that’s not good for you … but you keep doing it anyway?

Maybe you’re staying in a job or a relationship that isn’t really working, or you keep making excuses for why you don’t have time to go to the gym. Whatever’s causing you to be out-of-alignment, it gives you that awful, knot-in-your-stomach, uncomfortable-in-your-own-skin, shifty kind of feeling.

I’ve been feeling that way a bit lately.

As a coach who’s trained to intuitively pick up on these inconsistencies in other people, it’s particularly uncomfortable to get this feeling myself. I realized I haven’t been the best at walking my own talk in one major way the past couple of months, so I’m outing myself in the name of getting back on track.

I’m forever telling my clients to pay less attention to what they don’t want, and to focus more on what they do want. In other words, stop complaining about what’s not working and start noticing and appreciating what is working.

Why? Because what you pay attention to has a huge impact on what you experience.

When I follow my own advice about this, my life starts to feel different — better, easier, lighter, more fun — almost immediately.

But I’m only human, which means sometimes I’m going to slip back into old bad habits. And this summer, since I’ve been distracted by some frustrating health issues, I’ve found myself giving more of my attention than usual on the things I don’t want.

  • I’ve been more annoyed about traffic.
  • I’ve fallen into the trap of pointlessly arguing about politics.
  • I’ve let my worries take me into a mental downward spiral.
  • I’ve had the recurring thought, “Why does this have to be so hard?”
  • I’ve complained about the weather, my busy schedule, the healthcare industry, the state of our country (and the world at large), and on and on.

I’ll catch myself in the act of doing one of these things, and yet I can’t always seem to stop myself. Once you start complaining or arguing about one thing, you tend to find more and more things to complain and argue about … and it’s tough to stop that momentum once it’s going.

Every time I do it, though, I get that awful out-of-alignment feeling in my gut because I know this isn’t me. So I’ve been consciously working on following my own advice more lately, and I have to say … it’s making all the difference.

THE LUCKY LOG

I was coaching a client a few months back named Natalia, and in one of our sessions, she expressed how badly she wanted to start her own business. She excitedly told me about all of the entrepreneurial ideas she had.

After a while, however, she stopped herself. “I don’t think any of them will work, though. I’m just really unlucky, so whenever something starts to go my way, something usually happens and screws it all up.”

When I asked her what made her think she was so unlucky, she immediately listed off example after example of how things never work out for her. Then when I asked her to give me some examples of times when she did feel lucky and when things did go her way … the phone got very quiet.

So I issued her a homework assignment. For one week, she had to keep a “Lucky Log” — a running list of any “lucky” experience, no matter how minor, that made her feel like things were working out in her favor.

In our next session, she told me the first few days of the challenge were really hard. It felt like she had nothing to add to her list. But as the week went on, it got easier for her to collect more and more evidence that things actually work out well for her quite often.

She was amazed. “I never noticed these things before! I’ve been feeling so lucky and grateful this week. The weird thing is, nothing has actually changed! I’m just seeing things differently.”

IT JUST TAKES A SHIFT OF ATTENTION

Focusing on what you don’t want not only doesn’t feel good, it actually rewires your brain to keep paying more and more attention to negative things. It’s like you start collecting “proof” that all of your negative beliefs — about yourself, your job, other people, the world — are true, and you become blind to experiences that go against those beliefs.

It’s human nature to want to be right, so you’ll unconsciously collect evidence that your beliefs are true … even if you don’t actually want them to be true!

If you believe that no one in your industry gets paid well, you’ll become hyper-aware of anyone in your line of work complaining about not having enough money.

If you believe that there are no good men/women out there, you’ll feel validated in that belief every time you go on a bad date or hear about a friend’s breakup.

If you believe you’re not good at your job, you’ll take every bit of constructive feedback or instruction as proof that you don’t know what you’re doing.

Sure, you could continue to believe these things and keep collecting evidence that they’re “true,” but how does that serve you?

The truth is, you can collect evidence to support any belief you want. So if these beliefs are making you feel miserable and attracting more miserable things into your life, then why keep building a case for them?

What if, instead of collecting proof of what you don’t want, you started collecting proof of what you do want to be true? What if you tried your own version of Natalia’s “Lucky Log”?

BUILDING A CASE FOR WHAT YOU WANT

Think of yourself like an attorney, preparing for a big court case. Your goal is to collect as much evidence as possible so that you can present the best, most solid case for what you want to believe.

For example, I personally want to start collecting proof that…

  • Life is working out in my favor.
  • My body is fantastic at healing itself.
  • I easily magnetize awesome people and experiences into my life.
  • Good things happen to me all the time.
  • There is beauty all around me.
  • I bounce back from challenges quickly and easily.
  • People are generally kind and friendly.

Imagine if you decided to collect evidence that these beliefs were true, instead of the ones you’ve been (consciously or unconsciously) trying to prove.

You’d find a whole lot less to complain about, that’s for sure. And you’d also attract more and more things into your life to feel appreciative of.

twitter-bird You can’t be complaining AND feel appreciation at the same time. Choose one.

A CHALLENGE

In order to jumpstart me back into appreciation mode, I’m issuing myself the following challenge: For one week, starting today, I’m going to …

  • Give up complaining entirely. Not a single complaint allowed for a solid week!
  • Start a written list where I collect proof of my new-and-improved list of beliefs, and feel appreciation for each example as I add it to the list.

I think it would be awesome for a bunch of us to take on this challenge together over the next week. If you’re willing to do this with me, leave me a comment to let me know you’re in!

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’re now recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Kristen reading this week’s blog:

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

41 Comments // ADD COMMENT

41 comments

  • Erin

    I’m in! This is just what I need right now

  • Lauren hollasch

    I’m in for the challenge!

  • Jenny

    DEFINITELY IN!!! I think I’m making things worse by complaining about them all the time….

  • nadia

    I love this! I’m in for the challenge, too!

  • Dronile

    Totally in! I’ve been thinking of doing something similar lately! I did a 100 days of gratitude last Fall, it’s always nice to re-start the system and appreciating the little things can easily slip from our fingers so practicing often is wonderful!

    • Kristen Walker

      100 days of gratitude — I really love that idea! I want to try that soon! In fact, I might just decide to extend this week-long challenge…

  • Heba

    Im in …as its what i should do since long time ago lets support each other

  • Richard Morgana

    I am definitely in. This idea sounds a lot like ideas in “The Power of Positive
    Thinking” which I have read and reread many times. It has and continues to be very effective.

    • Kristen Walker

      I may just have to get that book to read for inspiration during this challenge. Glad you’re joining in!

  • Rachel

    When does the week officially start?!

  • Angela

    Wow! I have been thinking this exact thing lately. So crazy. I am definitely in.

    #1. Help comes along just when you need it!!!

    • Kristen Walker

      I perfect that you’ve been thinking of this exact thing recently! We must be sharing a brainwave. 🙂 And I love your “New Belief #1.” Clearly that’s already being proven true!

  • Debora

    Thank you for the inspiration. Going with the flow is always easier than fighting the stinking-thinking!

  • Rosie

    I will start that as well. My husband thinks i’m to pessimist. I need this 🙂

    • Kristen Walker

      I think we can all go down the pessimist rabbit hole sometimes. Glad you’re on board for this!

  • Cristina Luis

    Im in. If i write it here im more likely to do it since ive try this for so long on not complaining

    • Kristen Walker

      There’s definitely something powerful about declaring publicly that you’re giving this a try. It’s awesome that so many of us are doing this together!

  • True

    I’m in!

  • Andrea

    A week without whingeing… Culture shock!

    Which day/s do we return to share how it all went? Will you please remind us?

    • Kristen Walker

      I’m thinking next Tuesday (the 16th) would be a good check-in day, since it’s a week from our start date. I can put a reminder in our Tuesday email, if you’d like!

  • Ima

    I’m so in. I’m in such a bad place right now with work. All I find myself doing is complain about it cos I feel stuck with no other options and I feel like venting is my only avenue to express my displeasure at my current situation.

    If not complaining helps me see things differently, maybe I might see a way out of the current situation I am in with my work and career life.

    • Kristen Walker

      Makes total sense — it’s really hard NOT to complain when you’re in a situation you hate. But I’ve seen, over and over again, that complaining just tends to make it all feel worse. It’s worth trying a new approach and seeing if it helps! I’d love to hear how this challenge goes for you!

  • Rachel

    So inspiring and positive thank you, I’m definitely in! ?

  • Shaimaa

    I will try to join you , i really need it

    • Kristen Walker

      It helps knowing that all of these people are doing it alongside you, right? Glad you’re willing to give it a try!

  • Andrea

    I actually started a similar challenge a few weeks ago when I felt myself getting that uncomfortable, out-of-alignment feeling you described above. I still find myself slipping from time to time, but this is a great reminder to stay the course. In other words, count me in for another week (and many more after that!)

    • Kristen Walker

      The more you start tuning into that out-of-alignment feeling (instead of ignoring it, like so many tend to do), the less tolerance you have for it. Which means you’re way more motivated to make a change like this one.

      I love that you took it upon yourself to start a similar challenge just a few weeks ago! I’d love to hear how it’s been going for you.

  • Victoria

    I’m totally in! It felt like you wrote this one just for me 😉 The other day, I was thinking about how I could actually change something I believed (a limiting belief). Perhaps this challenge will help me to dismantle ideas that aren’t serving me and shift my perspective for the better. Cheers Kristen!

    • Kristen Walker

      It’s amazing to see how many of us are feeling the same way about this, right? It’s like we’re all ready to make a change, but sometimes you just need a little prompting and support to get going. I wrote this blog post as my OWN necessary prompting, and I love that it’s jump-starting other people to change their mindset, too. We’re all in this together, that’s for sure. I hope you’ll come back and let me know how this challenge goes for you!

  • Andrea F

    Two Andreas aboard – so I’m Andrea F.

    It was a cheat, for me. I had a hermit week to get some writing done and the usual pests were away.

    I’ll have another go to see if I’m so virtuous when the pressure comes on.

    I enjoyed this challenge. Thanks Kristen. Hope your health is picking up.

    • Kristen Walker

      Glad you enjoyed the challenge, and I love that you’re giving it another week! You can think of your first go at it (during your hermit week) as a trial run, and now comes the real challenge. Here’s to a more positive week with lots to be grateful for!

      (And thanks for the well wishes about my health. Steadily improving day by day! 🙂 )

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