Here’s a question for you. Do you wake up and just allow your brain to start thinking on default? Or do you create your thoughts on purpose? In order to elevate your self-image, which is what my work is all about, it is going to require that you create intentional thoughts. And that’s what we’re talking about on today’s episode.
Welcome to the School of Self-Image, where personal development meets style. Here’s your hostess, master life coach Tonya Leigh.
What is happening, my friends? I am finally back home. And I want to stay put for a while. If you listened to the podcast last week, I told you all I was on a girls’ trip to Columbia, and before that I was in Miami, and before that I had moved to Puerto Rico. Like, it’s been an exciting summer. And I’m finally back home and I’m just super stoked to settle down for a bit and to get my place organized and to just enjoy being in Colorado. I love Colorado at this time of the year.
Another thing I’m super excited about is to get back into a routine. A bit part of my daily routine is intentional thinking. So, what that looks like for me is, in the mornings, I love to grab a journal. And it depends on what’s going on with me as to what type of journaling that I do.
If I’m experiencing a negative emotion, whether it’s anxiety or sadness or frustration, I’ll spend quite a bit of time looking into my brain as to why I’m feeling that. It’s always your thinking. Your thinking is always creating what you feel; always.
But sometimes, I’ll actually go into the future and I’ll think about the result that I want to create. And I’ll start practicing thoughts that align with that result. And so, I noticed that when I was traveling, I wasn’t doing as much. And I was feeling a lot of anxiety. And so, this morning, when I woke up, I was like, “Okay.” I pulled out my journal and I started to do some intentional thought work.
And I cannot say enough how important this is. I know in theory, we all understand that our thinking is important. Our thinking is creating our entire lives. But how much time do you think about what you think about and how much time do you spend thinking on purpose, thinking intentionally.
No matter what it is that you want to create, you’re going to have to move beyond just taking action and you’re going to have to start thinking creatively. You’re going to have to start thinking beyond where you are now.
Because let me tell you all, I used to take a lot of action. I was an action girl. I still am. I love taking action. I believe it’s an important part of the puzzle. But a lot of times, I was taking action, but I was working against myself. Why? Because I was thinking in opposition to the result that I wanted.
So, for example, I talk about weight loss a lot on this podcast because it’s an issue that I used to deal with. But I remember going on the diets and working out and trying really hard. But my thoughts were not aligned with the result.
I was thinking how hard it was. I was thinking how it was thinking how it was taking too long. I was thinking about how I was always going to struggle with this problem. And eventually, the thoughts took over the actions. Eventually, the thoughts led me to taking action to prove myself true.
One of the reasons why my clients get such good results is we spend a lot of time on our thoughts. And for many of you, you express to me it’s tedious. You don’t want to spend time thinking about what you think about. But let me tell you, if you don’t, chances are your thoughts are driving you instead of you driving your thoughts. Which is why it’s so important for you to think intentionally, to create intentional thoughts.
So, how do we do this? Well, first of all, you need awareness. You need to understand what you’re currently thinking. A lot of you don’t even understand that it’s your thinking creating how you feel. It’s so easy, without understanding and without awareness, just to think that it’s the outside world, it’s the circumstance creating how you feel.
And so then, what we do is we try to change the circumstance, “If I can just get my husband to behave. If I can just get my kids to act a certain way. If I could just make more money. If I could just lose weight. If I could just do this or that, then I could feel better…” not understanding, the whole time, it was your thoughts creating how you felt; always.
So you need to first understand what you’re thinking. And then you need to think about the result that you want. So I’ll give you an example. Right now, I am working on an exciting - so exciting - event for the community that’s going to be taking place next year.
And for those of you within the membership, you’re going to be hearing about this soon. But I was meeting with my event manager today and I felt like this knot in my stomach. And it’s so easy to think that it’s the future event creating this knot in my stomach, but it’s not.
It’s an event, it’s just something that hasn’t even happened yet. But I’m having this knot in my stomach and I go within and look at my own brain at what I’m thinking. Now, what appeared to be the first thought was, “I’ve never done an event this size before.”
But that’s not the thought because that actually is true. What was I making that mean? And the thought behind that was, “What if it’s not good enough?” Which is a terrible thing to think, right?
It’s not in alignment with my vision for this event. It’s not in alignment with how I want to see myself, my self-image. And so I actually did it on my whiteboard. I didn’t even do it in my journal. I did it on my whiteboard, I just started coming up with fun thoughts that excited me, that felt in alignment, that created a next level version of me.
And thoughts like, “I have everything I need to create the best event ever. It’s going to be better than I expect. I have an amazing team. I can’t wait to see all of the smiling faces there. It’s going to be unlike anything that anyone’s ever experienced.”
And those kinds of thoughts created a totally different feeling. And from that feeling, my job is to continue to perpetuate that so that I can produce that result. But now I want you all to think about, what if I would have spiraled into, “Well, I’ve never done this before, what if it’s not good enough? Oh my God, no one’s going to come, oh my God, I’m going to make an embarrassment of myself, I’m going to be such a failure.”
It’s all of this future catastrophic thinking that we do. We let our brains run wild like hormonal teenagers versus saying, “Wow, here’s how I’m going to choose to think about this.” And because I’ve done this work so much and I’ve seen the evidence of it over and over again, I know my only job is to focus on thinking intentionally, having intentional thoughts. And if I keep that up, it is going to be the best event ever.
So that’s what I’m focused on. Now, what you have to understand is from these intentional thoughts, I create a feeling within myself of excitement, determination, confidence. And then those feelings drive the actions that I will take to produce this event.
But if I don’t think intentionally, I’m going to create doubt, I’m going to create fear, I’m going to create all kinds of negative emotion that’s going to cause me not to show up as the best version of myself.
We really are self-fulfilling prophecies, which is why within the School of Self-Image, this is the core pillar that we talk about the most. Yes, we talk about surroundings because they’re super important, and we talk about style.
But at the end of the day, it is how you are thinking about yourself that is forming your self-image. Your style and your surroundings simply allow you to think better thoughts about yourself. But the reality is you don’t have to change either of those to begin to think better thoughts. You can start doing that today.
But I’ve just noticed that when you do all three of those together in unison, you literally birth a new version of yourself. But you have to start thinking intentionally, having intentional thoughts.
A lot of us just think on default. We’ve thought a thought so many times that we just think it’s real, and now we have a bunch of evidence for it. So now we have evidence from the past we’ve dragged along with us, and we’re like, “See, I told you I can’t lose weight, I told you I can’t grow my business, I told you I can’t have successful relationships, I told you I can’t get the job promotion.”
And so we keep perpetuating the same thoughts in our heads, which are producing the same results. So if you want to produce a new result, you literally have to form a new self-image. You have to become that woman first through thinking creatively.
I feel like this is fun work. I know some of you tell me, “Oh my God, this is so exhausting.” I think it’s exhausting not to think intentionally because you just keep creating the same old results that you don’t want. I love thinking about thought creation and thinking intentionally because it really affirms what I believe about ourselves, which is we are works of art and our strokes on the canvas of our lives start with our thoughts.
So if you want to begin to create a new masterpiece, you’re going to have to start putting new strokes on your canvas, which means you can’t allow your brain to keep defaulting in the same old thoughts that are keeping you stuck and are keeping you from the results that you want.
I was just coaching a client who is in this cycle of trying to achieve in order to prove her worthiness. And listen, we’ve all done this. But I explained to her, you can’t try to manipulate the world in order to feel better. I mean, you can, but you’re forever going to be at the mercy of the world depicting how you should feel about yourself.
And she asked me, she was like, “So how do you feel worthy?” And it really comes through intentional thoughts. Every day, when your brain wants to take you to a place of I’m not good enough, or I need to prove myself, those are just thoughts.
But when we believe them and we take action on them, we end up exhausting ourselves, running ourselves ragged, trying to prove to ourselves, when all along we could have just felt worthy in the first place through intentional thinking, creating intentional thoughts, every day looking at how you are worthy just as you are without proving anything.
All the achievements are just the cherries on the top. But instead, what we often do is we want to change the results, things outside of us in order to think differently. But that’s not how it works. You have to think differently first.
My entire body of work is around elevating a woman’s self-image. And the only way to do that is to begin to intentionally think on purpose, to create intentional thoughts. Whoever you’re wanting to become, you have to start thinking like her now.
Now, here’s what’s going to happen when you do this; you’re going to experience this thing called cognitive dissonance. You’re not going to believe your new thoughts yet. Your brain’s going to tell you that you’re lying, it’s not who you are, you’re faking it.
And so with intentional thinking, you have to find the next thought that is aligned with a better feeling. You have to find the next thought that offers you relief. You have to find the next thought that is more aligned with the result that you want to create, so that you don’t fight against yourself.
This is why positive thinking a lot of times doesn’t work. We’re trying to think positive; we’re standing in front of the mirror doing our affirmations. “I am beautiful, I am smart, I am confident, I am capable.” And our brains are like, no, you’re not, who are you kidding? Even though you are all of those things, your brain’s just not on board with it yet.
And the only reason why your brain’s not on board is you’ve been practicing default thinking for so long, believing that you are the opposite of those things. But the moment you start finding a better creative thought that’s leading you towards your future instead of helping you recreate the past, you start to feel a little bit better.
And then you reach for the next better thought, and then you reach for the next one, being intentional along the way. I literally will find myself during the middle of the day feeling anxious, frustrated, disappointed, whatever. And I’ll say, okay, what am I thinking?
And then I’ll find the thought and I’m like, why would I choose to think this? It’s not serving me at all. And so I tell my clients, I’m like, I want you to consider that there’s a thought store and you can go trade your thoughts in. If you don’t like them, they don’t fit you, they look awful on you, if you bought them at the bottom basement sale rack and you finally realize that you’re worth more, you can go trade it in. I do this all the time with my own brain.
Sometimes you’ll realize that you’re wearing hand-me-down thoughts. These are thoughts that have been passed down through the generations. And now you’re wearing it and you’re like, ew, I don’t like how this looks on me, I don’t like how it feels on me, and it’s not helping me live my best life.
Well, guess what? You don’t have to wear hand-me-down anything, especially when it comes to your thinking. Did you know you get to decide what you think about everything? Including yourself.
You get to decide what you think about your past, you get to decide what you think about your present, and your future. You get to decide what you think about what you want, you get to decide what you think about who you are. It is all a choice and most of us are not thinking on purpose in any of these areas.
We just are perpetuating the same old thoughts over and over and over, feeling the same old ways, taking the same old actions, creating the same old results.
Here’s what I know to be true in the deepest part of my soul. If you want to live an extraordinary life, you must practice thinking intentionally. You must create intentional thoughts. Thoughts are like the seeds that are growing your life. The product of your life is the result of the seeds of thinking that you plant.
And a lot of you are fertilizing and taking care of and growing old worn-out thoughts that produce nothing of value for you. It’s time to plant new seeds though intentional thoughts that will help grow you, that will help transform your self-image and will help you create the results that you want.
It all begins and ends with your thinking. So my challenge to you is for you to start practicing creating intentional thoughts. Have a beautiful week my friends, and be sure to tune in to next week’s episode. See you soon. Cheers.
Hey, have you grabbed your free copy of the School of Self-Image Manifesto? If not, what in the world? Head over to schoolofselfimage.com/manifesto and get a copy that teaches you how to think and show up in the areas of mindset, style, and surroundings so that you can transform your self-image.