The neurobiology of the brain has advanced significantly over the last few decades. We have discovered a great deal about how the brain works and how trauma, stress, and anxiety affect our experience of reality. Concepts such as cognitive bias and burnout color how we feel about ourselves and the world. We really do look at the world through colored filters that are created by our experiences. Are your thoughts sabotaging your success?
Your Positive and Negative Inner Thoughts
How we handle the stress and pressure that comes with the practice of law is determined by the inner landscape of our conscious mind. Our inner dialogue can tell us a great deal about our inner landscape, our emotional and mental health, and where we are on the spectrum between thriving and crisis.
In simplest terms, our thoughts about ourselves are categorized into positive and negative. When I help lawyers shift from burnout to success, we spend a lot of time focusing on which thoughts are prevalent in their consciousness. When our thoughts are predominantly negative, it is a sure sign that we may be struggling with the symptoms of burnout.
Imagine that your thoughts and beliefs are like a computer program. Most healthy babies are born with a clean slate. All of our experiences and observations are the data and operating systems that determine how we think, how we feel, how we behave, and how we navigate through life.
Are Your Thoughts Sabotaging Your Success?
Four Categories of Thoughts
I like to divide our thoughts into four categories such as the inner critic, the inner child, the ego, and inspiration. These categories have a positive and a negative side.
1. The Inner Critic
For example, the inner critic can be helpful or hurtful. Thoughts like “I can do better”, “I need help”, or “this is challenging” are examples of the positive inner critic. Thoughts like “I screwed up”, “I am a failure”, and “I will never be successful” are examples of the negative inner critic.
2. The Ego
Our ego can also be positive or negative. It analyzes and acts. Thoughts such as “I need to do …”, “I am successful” or “I love my job” are examples of the positive ego. Thoughts such as “I can’t do this”, “Life is hard”, and “I don’t deserve to succeed” are examples of the negative ego.
3. The Inner Child
The inner child is that part of our thinking based on our memories and past. If we had a traumatic childhood, our emotional maturity may be lacking because we are stuck in some traumatic memory that prevents us from analyzing our life from a healthy emotional perspective. Thoughts such as “That was fun”, “Let’s go play”, or “I am enjoying this” are thoughts from a positive inner child. Thoughts such as “I am afraid”, “That was mean”, or “I don’t know what to do” are coming from the negative inner child.
4. Inspired Thought
Our inspiration comes from our creativity when unbounded by negative ego, inner child, and inner critic. When supported by a landscape of positive thinking, we allow our inspiration to come up with new creative solutions to the problems we experience in life. When weighed down with negative egos, inner child, and inner critic, our inspiration is locked away.
All of this becomes relevant when we experience unexpected events or adversity. If we are prone to generate negative thoughts from a negative ego, inner critic, or inner child, we set the stage for adverse results.
If we think we are failures, that is the result we will get. If we think we are a success, that is the result we will get.
Our Thoughts Create Our Emotions, Our Emotions Create Our Behavior, and Our Behavior Creates Our Results.
The most important step in mental and emotional health is to be aware of our thoughts. Many people don’t analyze their thinking, they just live their lives with no analysis of the nature of their thinking. If you are a positive thinker, great. If you negatively think most of the time, you struggle.
If this sounds overly simplistic, it is.
The quality and character of our thoughts are also influenced by our subconscious mind, trauma, physical health, and other factors. The good news is you can change the way you think. I help lawyers change their inner landscape, their emotions, and their results. It isn’t magic, it is science.
Quiz: Are Your Thoughts Sabotaging Your Success?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best possible, and 10 being the worst possible rate your response to each question:
- How confident are you that you will get a positive result? ______
- How much joy are you experiencing in your practice? ______
- How excited are you to go to work on Monday? ______
- How much sleep/rest do you get on a nightly basis? ______
- How do you react to criticism? ______
- How much self-medication do you take? ______
- How is your physical health? ______
- How creative are you? ______
- How calm are you? ______
- How often do you think about changing careers? ______
The higher your scores, the more negatively you think. My observation is that when people start thinking positively, their experiences become more positive and their success increases.
Transform the enemy within into a tower of support and success and your career and life landscape will shift dramatically.
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