Melvyn Tan
October 3, 2013 — By tanmelvyn@gmail.com

What Do You Think About When You Think?

[blockquote source=”Philippians 4:8 (NIV)“]Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.[/blockquote] Earlier this year (2013), as I was reviewing my goals (short-term, long-term, and life-long) I was getting scared.  For one, to move […]

[blockquote source=”Philippians 4:8 (NIV)“]Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.[/blockquote]

Earlier this year (2013), as I was reviewing my goals (short-term, long-term, and life-long) I was getting scared.  For one, to move the business to the next level, I need to scale.  I cannot continue with this trade time for money formula.  It not only placed a false ceiling in terms of my earning capacity, it is also not sustainable.  I was already working 50 to 60 hours a week and now with two children I simply cannot continue to work in this manner.

I need a change of mind-set, I would need a new paradigm, or I would need a change in my business model.  How would I do it?  Do I have the skills?  And do I have the resources?  And what went on was a continuous loop of disempowering thoughts; what if I fail, what if I cannot sustain the same level of income, what if I tried and it did not work and at the same I would drain my reserves?  What if, what if, what if.

And for sometime, these thoughts would haunt my mind in the day and even keep me up at night.  And the more I thought of it, the more negative I get, and the more I hold myself back from taking any form of action.  This would go on for days, then weeks, then months; until there comes a point where the moment I am awake, that’s the first thing on my mind!

I realize I was going down, and was going down fast.  And I knew that if I did not address this, it will sink me.  That was when I decided to not only pray, but pray with an expectant mind-set.  I know that God would provide an answer.  It is not that He had been silent all these while, but it was me that was not listening!

And so I prayed.  Then the answer was revealed to me, that I have been thinking about the wrong things.  My mind was focusing on the wrong things, I am focusing on the very things that will sink me, on the very things that will bring me down.  In fact, I should be focusing on Jesus.

Now, the issue was that I know it intellectually.  But to do it was a different matter altogether.  First, I tried to not think about it.  That just makes matters worse.  It is like when I say, “don’t think of that pink elephant”.  What does your mind think of?  Exactly, the pink elephant.  Then I tried to will it.  Again using willpower is just not possible.  I will just revert to the same old pattern.

What finally worked for me was to use the techniques taught by Tony Robbins in the Ultimate Edge.  The three steps to lasting change are:

  • Get Disturbed: this is where you need to get to the point where you are beyond uncomfortable.  Being uncomfortable is where one would whine about it everyday, but you never getting down to making any changes at all, because it is just uncomfortable.  Getting disturb is where the situation is causing so much pain that you simply cannot ignore it anymore.  It gets to the point where you say, “this MUST change”
  • Interrupt the Pattern: however, getting disturbed is not enough because there will be times where you will revert back to the same thinking habits.  And this happened to me many a times.  I would be thinking positively for most of the day, and then something happens and I will revert back to the same defeating thinking pattern again.  So, this is where you need to deliberately interrupt the pattern.  Every time that self-defeating thought comes about, I would do something dramatic.  I noticed that you have to do something dramatic or it won’t work.  Something dramatic of me would be “clap my hands and say, ah!”, or it would be “uh-ah, and then a loud whistle”.  It is odd, and yes, sometimes I do get the stares, but it worked for me.
  • Find Replacement Thoughts: now, you will need to look for a replacement thought.  You cannot eliminate the self-defeating thought alone, but will need to look for an empowering thought, something that will get you the results you want.  For me, I wanted to get started on my projects, to move on.  And so, my replacement thoughts were simply this (1) Jesus – I would pray, (2) Goal – what I want to achieve, (3) Benefit – how it will not only help me but more importantly help others.

Father I thank You for loving me and for guiding me.  Please help me focus on the things that are excellent or praiseworthy, help me focus on Jesus, help me focus on how I can learn from Your Word to help others lead a more engaged life.  In Jesus name, Amen.