I have been obsessed with thought-work of late. It’s fascinating to watch our own mind, and observe how we react or respond to what goes on in there.
I know this on an intellectual level (there are hundreds and thousands of books on this topic alone). I also know this professionally as I see it all the time as a healthcare practitioner. When it comes to pain or illness, for instance, how we think about what we are dealing with can either help us heal, or make the condition worse. I am reminded often of how powerful the mind can be.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to experience this thought work personally, and I wanted to share that with you.
A couple of months ago, I decided to finally get Lasik procedure for my eyes. Since I was 10 years old, I heavily relied on glasses and contact lenses to see anything at all: I was drastically near-sighted.
It may sounds silly, but the main reason I delayed Lasik was because you are obligated to wear glasses for 1-2 weeks, or more, ahead of time. And I hated wearing glasses.
Long story short, I took a plunge, and made an appointment for the procedure on August 3. I was ordered to wear glasses only for at least 7 days before the procedure.
My brain wanted to protest: it was mad at me. I wanted an exception from the doctor and bartered for fewer days. But no such luck.
Intellectually I knew it was not a big deal: so many people wear glasses daily and they are just fine! They are happy, even! They are functional and are able to do anything and everything with just glasses on.
But I did not want to do it. My brain believed that I would have trouble moving through the days with glasses on my face. What about exercising? What if it rained. Seriously, I was being so juvenile about all of it.
But the appointment was set. I was committed. It was now or never.
I was so committed and wanted to it go smoothly that I circled the first day of wearing glasses NINE days before the procedure date, instead of the mandatory SEVEN.
I watched my thoughts about it. The brain wanted to freak out, of course… two extra days of misery! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? YOU ARE INSANE. YOU WILL BE SO MISERABLE.
But the incentive was a big one: I wanted the procedure to go smoothly (apparently sometimes if the eyes are not ready for Lasik, they won’t do it), and I really wanted it to work. And I was not going to not have it done now.
The day on that calendar came. I longingly looked at my contact lenses in the morning as I got ready for the day. I started wearing glasses full time.
It was not comfortable, of course. I hated having them on my face all day long. My brain freaked out and wanted to go back to the contacts. I hated it when the glasses fogged up, or if I sweat and they want to fall off my face. I did not see as well wearing them, and felt nauseous on occasion. I could go on about the misery. I just wanted to take them off and put back on my contact lenses.
But I didn’t. I didn’t because my thoughts about the situation was different. Instead of resisting wearing glasses, I accepted wearing glasses.
I accepted despite the discomfort.
I accepted because I had a goal I wanted and needed to achieve.
I accepted and I showed up for myself.
For nine days, I did everything in my glasses: exercised, cooked, did yoga, drove, traveled across the globe, explored a new city, met new people… I lived in my glasses like I had never done in my life. I did not enjoy a moment of it, but I stayed committed because I had a strong incentive.
And today, I can say that it was all worth it. I said goodbye to the glasses that I did not enjoy and had the procedure without trouble (they even complimented me for wearing glasses for more days than necessary). I now enjoy a new vision without needing glasses, or contacts.
Shifting my thoughts about wearing glasses from a negative, resistant place to an accepting, neutral place made the nine days go by with much less drama. I experienced the discomfort, sure, but I also was rewarded by something pretty darn amazing on the other side.
So, Descarte’s famous phrase: “Cogito ergo sum, or I think therefore I am,” resonates now more than ever.
What about you?
What thoughts are keeping you from achieving your goals?
How can you reframe your thoughts to change your outcome?
It might be much easier than you think!