Welcome to Episode #92. I’m Kristi Angevine, and I'm here to help you understand why you feel, act, and think as you do so that you can be more intentional and live your life on purpose instead of on autopilot.
Today's topic revisits a fundamental tenet of this podcast, the idea that your experience is shaped by your beliefs, and as such, is so much more malleable than you might think. Let’s get started
Welcome to Habits On Purpose, a podcast for high-achieving women who want to create lifelong habits that give more than they take. You'll get practical strategies for mindset shifts that will help you finally understand the root causes of why you think, feel, and act as you do. And now, here's your host, Physician, and Master Certified Life Coach, Kristi Angevine.
Hello, hello, everyone. Last week was part two of doing a habit audit. So, if you didn't listen to Episodes 90 and 91, I highly recommend you go back and do that. Because doing a habit audit is where you increase your awareness of what you do on default, of your autopilot experience; what you think, how you feel, how you emotionally respond, and what your natural habituated behaviors are.
Here's the thing, when it comes to habituated patterns, the ones that are left unmonitored, they just insidiously run on autopilot. This is really great news, if you've got the habituated patterns that you really love, that are nourishing, that help you craft and experience life the way you'd like.
But it might not feel so great if you don't love your current habits. The thing we often miss when it comes to habits, is we think of our habits as fixed and really hard to change. When the truth is, they’re so much more malleable. We think of our experience of life as just something that kind of happens to us, an experience over which we have limited or no control. Because well, when we don't know any differently that's what it feels like.
The truth is, habits are more moldable, more shapeable, more malleable than meets the eye. And our experience of life is something that we have the ability to influence and shape, despite what's going on in our external circumstances.
Now, I find this is a very timely episode. For myself, personally, I will go through phases where I'm very intentional, I'm very deliberate. I've got so much clarity around my beliefs, my thoughts, my emotions, my habits, and things feel really good.
Even when there's chaos, there's irritability, there's unexpected things happening. Underlying all of that, I have a sense of agency, I have a sense of confidence, I have a sense of knowing that I can come home to myself and feel grounded.
But every so often, and I want to be really transparent, it's something that happens quite frequently. I won't have this sense of clarity, the sense of confidence, the sense of groundedness. Usually, the reason why is I forget some of the basics, some of the very fundamental principles that help me see the world through the lens of agency. It's like they get covered up by a pile of laundry, and I forget that they're there.
So, if you're anything like me, and if you're anything like my clients, and you have a tendency to go through cycles where you forget some of the basic tenets that really helped guide you to be intentional, this podcast is going to be your invitation to come back to one of those fundamentals.
The truth that our habits are more malleable than meets the eye, and that we have the ability to influence and shape them, hinges on a fundamental principle, which is the topic that I'm going to talk about in today's podcast.
Today, I'm going back to the basics to revisit a fundamental Habits On Purpose idea. Now, the fascinating thing about this idea is we could probably do a 10-part series about the complexity of this and all the ramifications. This idea is that powerful.
So, the basic idea is this… drumroll please… Thoughts create feelings, cognition shapes emotions, beliefs underpin experience. Because we have agency over our beliefs, and we can decide what we want to believe, and we can decide what we want to think, we have so much more authority over our lived experience than we realize.
This is why even if habits seem hardwired, the reality is they're much more malleable than you think. You can unlearn old patterns and reauthor new ones. To discuss this idea, I'm going to spend a little time explaining it and then give you some examples, so you can be thinking how this idea fits in and matches your experience.
In many, if not most of our experiences, the way we feel, the way we experience things, comes from what we believe about ourselves and the world. And this is a big deal, this idea. It's got far reaching ramifications. So, let's slow it down and elaborate on it.
Our beliefs are sometimes explicit, unless we know exactly what we're believing. But more often than not, our beliefs are subconscious. And the subconscious beliefs give rise to things that we think in our everyday life, literally to the sentences that populate our mind.
These everyday sentences, aka these everyday thoughts, they create feelings, they shape our emotional and energetic experience of our day. So, on one hand, the way we feel arises from the subconscious beliefs, and this automatic default involuntary thinking.
But once we bring consciousness and awareness to the way that we're thinking, and we bring awareness to the assumptions, the rules, the beliefs that are at the core of our thinking, that's when we can decide if this paradigm, or lens of beliefs… I'm actually just going to call this our “belief goggles.”
Do you know that animated feature The Incredibles? If you have kids, you've probably seen this. I think it's in Incredibles 2 where the villain puts these goggles on the Incredibles’ characters, and the goggles hypnotize them. Through these goggles, they see the world a very specific way. And only when the goggles are removed can they see what's really going on.
Well, when we look at the world through our own belief goggles, through our own paradigm, we sometimes can't actually see the paradigm itself. But when we can see the goggles, or see the paradigm, that's when we can decide if this is when we want to keep or when we'd like to change. It's this decision that permits us to be deliberate and to shape and influence our experience of our everyday life.
So, let's take a really common example. Let's talk about a to-do list. Now, I'm sure everybody listening to this has written a to-do list for themselves. Whether it's on paper, whether it's in your mind, whether it is something digital, whether it's your calendar, we're all familiar with the to-do list.
I want you to picture a to-do list that has 15 things on it. One person sees a list and thinks, “I can't do this. Shit, I don't have enough time. There's no way. What the heck?” and they feel overwhelmed and they feel near panic.
Another person sees the same list and thinks, “I am so behind, I suck. I can't even do the simplest things. I've accomplished nothing recently, what is my problem?” They feel discouraged and defeated.
Still another person looks at the same list and thinks, “That's quite a lot of stuff. I better figure out how to do this. I'm crafty, though. And I might not get it all done, but if I take one thing at a time I bet I'll figure it out.” And when they think that way, they feel resourceful, and maybe even determined.
So, the same to-do list, different thinking, different emotions. All these different ways of thinking come from core beliefs about oneself and the world. The analogy I really like, that pieces together the connection between our thoughts and our beliefs, is that thoughts are like a plant. A plant arises from a seed, a seed grows roots.
The seed is the initial idea that gives rise to a network of beliefs. The network of beliefs are the roots that support the plant. The plant, with its leaves and its flowers, those are the thoughts. That's what we have more easy access to seeing and to noticing. Whereas the beliefs, they're underneath the surface, but they're actually essential for supporting the thoughts.
Let's take the example of the to-do list, and connect underlying beliefs to the emotional experience of the to-do list. When you believe deep down that there's something fundamentally wrong with you, that you're a little bit defective, there's something screwed up, and there's something generally bad about you, you might have a baseline sense that you're not as capable as you would be if you didn't think that you were defective in some way.
This makes it very easy to see a to-do list and think, “I can't do this,” and feel overwhelmed. Or see a to-do list and think, “I suck. I'm so behind,” and feel defeated.
In contrast, if deep down you know you're capable, you believe you're good, you believe you're intrinsically not broken, nothing is irreparably wrong with you, the core belief may foster a baseline sense of capability and sufficiency.
Such that, when faced with the to-do list it's easier to naturally think, “Cool. This list gives me direction,” and subsequently feel calm and focused. Or think, “Yeah, there's work to do. I can do hard things. I can figure this out. Let's go,” and feel determined.
See how our beliefs shape our experience? When we can recognize what we're believing and the thoughts these beliefs make possible, and then the downstream emotional energetic experience, and the subsequent actions and inactions that we take from this energy and emotion, then we can start to see how our experience is strongly shaped from within and not created by things outside of us.
It's this idea that's at the heart of what I'm talking about today. Our experience is strongly shaped from within, internally, and not solely created by things outside of us. It's not created by other people. It's not created by the weather. It’s not created by circumstances at work. It's created by our thoughts and beliefs about those circumstances.
This realization itself can be a massive game changer. What this means, is that things outside of you are not the sole reason that you feel as you feel. Circumstances, other people, to-do lists, they are not solely responsible for your experience.
Rather, it's how you think and what you believe about yourself, and about the circumstances that shape your experience. So, since your experience is shaped from within, from you, this means you have more agency than you likely realize on a daily basis. And this means you can mold and make your habits the way you'd like them to be.
Sometimes, just realizing that what you naturally, subconsciously believe shapes your emotional experience, helps you appreciate how if you unlearned old beliefs and rewired new ones, that the world is essentially your oyster, in terms of your emotional experience and your actions.
Just because so many of our beliefs do arise from how we are socialized, or inherited from caregivers and our culture, and were shaped by repetitive experiences in our formative years, doesn't mean that they are fixed.
So, the way that you can actually curate a deliberate experience on purpose, is to first recognize this connection, and recognize your experience does not solely come from the outside in. With this in mind, we get to consider:
What do you want your experience to be like? How do you want your experience of your to-do list to be? What do you want your relationship with alcohol to look like? How do you want to interact with your phone?
What kind of relationship do you want with your body and your fitness routine? How do you want to feel about yourself as a parent or spouse? How do you want to feel at your job? How do you want to feel about the pursuit of a bold goal?
Once you know what you want, you then get to work backwards. For example, if you want to have a take-it-or-leave-it relationship with your phone or with wine, what would you need to think or believe to make that possible? What are you currently thinking and believing? What's the work you need to do to make the shift between the two?
So, if I want my experience of my to-do list to be one of focus and a matter-of-fact calm, and one that is less filled with defeat and overwhelm, I get to ask myself: What do I need to change, about what I'm currently thinking, to make that my reality?
You can change how you think. You can change what you believe. You can even change the long held assumptions and rules you have about how the world works. You can do this, if you want to. And because you can do this, you can cultivate intentional ways of thinking, and therefore you can cultivate intentional experiences.
Now, making these changes doesn't come from chanting some new mantra every morning. It does come from examination of where you currently are and what you currently think. And then, thoughtfully considering what shifts are possible. Then, you either can simply decide to think differently, or sometimes there's deep work and healing that has to precede a real shift in your ideology and beliefs.
So, as you listen to this, if any of it sounds like hyperbole or some variant of ‘you can be all you can be, if you just believe hard enough. Rah-rah-rah,’ kind of a thing, I understand that it can seem like that. But that's not what this approach is intended to be.
The idea that thoughts and beliefs shape our experience is not intended to be used as a product of toxic positivity. It’s not meant to whitewash or plaster silver linings over things. And it's also not meant to suggest that you should always feel happy and motivated and grateful and confident all the time. And that if you don't, it's just because you're thinking the wrong thoughts. That, my friends, is a terrible distortion of this idea.
If you find yourself making yourself wrong for any negative emotion, for any difficult experience, for the struggles in your life, and telling yourself that you just need to think differently, recognize that this is weaponizing a tool that has a basic intention to bring awareness and not create judgment.
So, to summarize, the way we feel comes from what we're thinking and what we tell ourselves. My overwhelm at my to-do list comes from how I think about my to-do list, not from the fact that there are 15 things on the list itself.
Our thoughts, they grow from our beliefs about ourselves and our beliefs about the world. Most of our thoughts and beliefs are subconscious. But the cool thing is they can be excavated, they can be examined, they can be brought out into the light of the day. We actually can take what is subconscious and make it conscious. And when we do that, we get the chance to decide if we want to think differently, and thus feel and act differently.
Which means, we can take our habits, things that we automatically do without even thinking about them, and we can bring awareness to them, we can rewire them and make them intentional. It's in this way, that the habits you have, the habits that you may have uncovered in Episodes 90 and 91, in the habit audit, they are so much more malleable than you think.
And if you're like me, and you like to get a little bit meta about these things, consider this. How do you feel when you think the thought, “Habits are hard? I'm pretty much stuck with what I've got.” My guess is you probably feel heavy, discouraged and stuck.
Versus, how do you feel when you think the thought, “Habits are more malleable than I realized.” Maybe you feel more open, more of a sense of possibility, more curious, more optimistic.
Whether this is old information for you, or this is new information, I want you to have a very practical thing that you can do this week to sort of play around with it. My invitation to you is that you just play a little bit with your imagination.
Play around with imagining what would be different in your experience if you knew you could author more than you currently do. If you knew you could be in charge of your relationship with your phone, with work, with your to-do list. And if it feels fun to you, consider what thoughts might need to shift or change a bit in order to be more the author of your experience, as opposed to the recipient of it.
So, until next week, I will talk to you soon.
Well, I hope you found this episode valuable. If you want to learn the how of being more aware of your thinking and your beliefs, so that you can create some real changes in your ordinary everyday life, I would love to connect. It's my mission to help you understand why you feel and act and think as you do, so that you can be more deliberate in this one life that you have.
To do that, I work with clients one-on-one. And for women physicians, I also have a group coaching program that runs about every six months. For more information about private coaching, go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/consult.
To get on the waitlist for the next Habits on Purpose for Physicians group coaching program, and be the first to hear about the next start date in 2024, how you can get CME, the early enrollment bonuses, go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/waitlist.
Thanks for listening to Habits On Purpose. If you want more information on Kristi Angevine or the resources from the podcast, visit HabitsOnPurpose.com. Tune in next week for another episode.