Do you want to change or “improve” something about yourself so that you can feel worthy of love and acceptance?

Are you trying to convince yourself to love a job or a relationship because you secretly fear you can’t do any better?

If so, you may be using thought work against yourself.

So many people come to this work because they want to change something about themselves or their lives.

By teaching you how to choose what to think and feel on purpose, thought work can be an incredibly powerful tool for growth and change – whether you want to yell at your kids less, be happier in a relationship, make more money at work, or create any other change in your life.

But when you first come to thought work, your thoughts are a mess! And so it’s quite common to use the tools the “wrong” way – by which I mean, against your own self-love and self-interest rather than to support self-loving growth. 

This manifests as one of two patterns – you may be doing either, or both:

  1. Using thought work to change who you are or how you behave so that you can like or love yourself once you’ve been “fixed.”
  2. Using thought work to try and be happier in a situation that you are only staying in because you don’t believe you’re worthy of something else, or you believe there’s a scarcity of what is available to you in the world.

If you can identify with the first approach, you’re not alone.

It’s very common to come to thought work because of a “problem” that you want to fix about yourself.

Let’s say you came to this work because you think you yell at your kids too much and want to learn how to control your temper around them.

In itself, there’s nothing wrong with this goal – and thought work can certainly help you understand why you are yelling and how to process your anger in a different way.

But if your logic is that you think you’re a terrible person and want to change your behavior so you can feel better about yourself, you will limit your progress. You won’t want to actually look at your thoughts because you’re shaming yourself about them, and so you never get to know them well enough to change them.

Thought work is a tool to help you ACCEPT reality before you decide how you want to change it. That includes accepting yourself, wherever you’re at, whatever your current behavior.

So, if you are using thought work against yourself in this way, the solution is to use thought work to work on your self-acceptance NOW – not to wait for your own acceptance until you “fix” yourself.

The surprising truth is that the more you love yourself, the easier it is to achieve a goal or change your behavior. The self-love has to come first. 

Now what about the second category: using thought work to justify or feel more positive about decisions you are making from a place of mental scarcity?

This often stems from a misunderstanding of one of my teachings.

I usually recommend that you do thought work to love whatever you’re hating or resisting before you make a decision about whether to leave or try to change it (barring situations where you’re in physical danger or something similar). This allows you to make a clear decision and use the current situation as an opportunity to understand your thought patterns so you don’t continue to recreate them in new situations.

But often, people will use this teaching to justify staying in a situation that they would actually want to leave if they truly thought they were worthy and thought there were other options out there for them.

For example, if you hate your job and decide to do thought work to learn how to love your job instead – that’s wonderful, if you’re coming from a place of abundance. Good reasons to do this work include wanting to learn the power of your mind to be happy in any circumstance, and learning to believe truly that there are always other options out there for you should you choose them.

But if you are doing that work because you don’t think you’re good enough to get another job, or you don’t think there are other good jobs out there, then you are using thought work to feel better about staying in a situation that you don’t actually think you have the power to leave. And so it won’t work because you’re still subconsciously making yourself feel trapped.

This is why I always recommend exploring the INTENTION behind your goals.

Ask yourself if you’re prejudging the outcome. Have you already decided that you have to stay in your current situation, and you’re doing thought work to make that more bearable for yourself?

Or are you truly open to seeing what might happen once you love your situation – that you might then decide to stay or to leave?

This is a very common issue in relationships as well.

Women often use thought work to “be ok” with a partner’s behavior. The problem is not that action itself, it’s the motivation. The problem is when you choose that work not because you want to learn to love someone unconditionally before deciding whether to be with them (which is an excellent use of this tool), but because you have already decided you want to stay in the relationship because you don’t think you have other options or are unwilling to experience the negative emotion of leaving. And so you try to use thought work to feel better about it. But just like in the job example, you’re subconsciously still creating the experience of feeling trapped, so it won’t work.

Let’s look at what the thoughts in each situation might be to help you grasp this at a deeper level. 

It’s completely possible to stay in a relationship from a place of abundance and love. That looks like acknowledging: I have negative thoughts and feelings about my partner’s behavior. I want to understand my thinking and choose my thoughts on purpose so I can decide whether or not I want to be in this relationship from a clear place. I want to practice unconditional love and take responsibility for my own emotional well-being. I’m open to any outcome and will believe in myself and my future no matter what.

Here’s what it looks like when you’re using thought work against yourself: I have negative thoughts and feelings about my partner’s behavior. I want to clean those up because I want to stay in this relationship. If I leave, I may not be able to find love again, or I will feel lonely and sad, or I don’t believe I can support myself, or I will feel like a bad mom, so I want to be happy with the way it is. (You can see how the justification or reason may vary but it all comes down to judging yourself, shaming yourself, and not believing there’s anything else out there for you).

If you’re wondering whether you’re using thought work to justify your scarcity thinking, asking “why” will be the most powerful question for you:

  • Why do you want to do thought work on this?
  • What is your reason?
  • Do you like that reason?

Practice radical honesty with your answers.

It may be hard to admit to yourself “I’m working on loving my partner unconditionally because I think he’s my only chance at a family,” but doing so will build your trust with yourself even if you don’t change your actions at all. 

Now before you start using this to judge yourself for doing thought work wrong (I see you self-critical perfectionist chicken!), know this: Even if you ARE doing exactly what I describe in this blog, nothing has gone wrong.

This is a normal part of the thought work process and evolution. And even when you do thought work for the wrong reasons, you learn something about yourself and your underlying thoughts.

Because the act of doing thought work doesn’t cause you to settle, or accept a situation you wouldn’t otherwise accept. 

Yes, even if you’re using thought work to try and feel happier or more accepting of a situation that you are only staying in out of scarcity or self-loathing.

Because it’s your underlying scarcity or self-rejection thoughts that keep you stuck.

You were stuck because of those thoughts before you ever heard about thought work. 

Those thoughts weren’t motivating you to make any changes before you ever heard about thought work, right?

It’s like thinking that when you put a band-aid on a bleeding wound and it doesn’t work to cover it, the band-aid is causing the bleeding.

Nope. It’s just an ineffective fix. But it’s not the actual problem.

Thought work is always worthwhile, even when you’re using it against yourself.

I know, that sounds like a paradox.

But any time you try to get to know your mind or shift your thoughts it will help you learn more about yourself and your life. Eventually, even if you’re trying to use it against yourself,  you start to become more self-aware – and then you can see that pattern in the first place. 

It will bring awareness to these issues and help you dig deeper into your underlying beliefs and motivations. Ultimately, it will bring you back to the most powerful question you can ask yourself:

Why am I choosing to do this work, and do I like my reason?

That, my chickens, will keep you honest about your goals and help you evolve from a place of self-love, acceptance, and abundance.