Did you know that we have about 60,000 thoughts💭 a day, and that research shows the majority of those thoughts are considered negative? It’s overwhelming to think about all those BAD THOUGHTS, right?
Well, fasten your seatbelts, friends, because we’re in for a wild ride🎢 in today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast! We’re tackling the topic of BAD THOUGHTS with a conversation about pleasure, pain, and the most powerful phrase in the English language. Plus we’re doing a live exercise together that will change everything you think about your BAD THOUGHTS.
Are you ready for this one? Let’s GO!
Have a friend who wants to flip🤸♀️ the switch on “bad thoughts?” SHARE the podcast! 💛
BAD THOUGHT (full transcription)
You’re listening to the Fitness Matters podcast with Pahla B, and this is episode number 231, “Bad Thoughts.”
Welcome to the Fitness Matters podcast where every week we talk about the fitness matters that matter to you. I’m Pahla B, YouTuber, certified life and weight loss coach, soon to be author, and your best middle-aged fitness friend. Are you ready to talk about the fitness mindset that matters to you? Me too. Let’s go.
Hello, hello, hello, my friends. It’s so good to be here with you. You guys, how are you doing today? I am doing fabulous. By the time you hear this, oh my gosh, I will have done so many things. For me, in real-time today, I have a call with a prospective editor for my book. This is so exciting, you don’t even know it, except that I’m going to tell you all about it so you will know because I think I’ve shared with you that I have an agent for my book. I don’t remember if I’ve actually said that out loud. I think I have. Anyway, if I haven’t, I have an agent for my book, which is very exciting.
And my agent has sent my book out on prospect to attract potential editors. And I have a phone call with one of them today. Actually, it’s not even a phone call; it’s a Zoom call with one of them today. And okay, wildly taking a left turn already here in the first three minutes of the podcast. By the time you hear this, I’ll already be back, but I am going to Austin, Tex., to be part of the life coach school mastermind, where I get to walk on stage and be recognized as a new coach who made over a hundred thousand dollars last year, and I’m so excited about that. I feel right now today, like I am bursting with anticipation of nothing but good things. Do you know that feeling? It’s like the best, right? And there’s that tipping point where it could get overwhelming, and I’m really monitoring that because I know myself. I know exactly – historically, let me say historically – I know exactly how much happiness I can handle before it kind of turns south and feels like too much for me. And I’m working on my capacity to have happiness, to be happy and just allow it to BE versus feeling like it’s too much or feeling like there’s another shoe that’s going to drop because I was happy.
And I’m really absorbing this and enjoying how happy and excited I am right now. And boy, oh boy, do I wish this for you. I tell you what, if there is a feeling that I could bottle up in the world? Well, there are several of them. Number one would be curiosity. I still love curiosity better. Sorry, I’m playing favorites here. I still love curiosity better, but I also really, really, really enjoy this happy anticipation. I would bottle up both of these and hand them to you as a gift. And you know what else I have as a gift for you today? A seatbelt. Because this episode, oh my gosh, it is going to get twisty. If you get car sick, just be careful. Okay? You ready? Because here we go.
We’re talking about bad thoughts. Here’s something that I notice when I am talking with you, and by talking sometimes I am actually talking with you. I do one-on-one coaching in the Get Your Goal group, and I do group coaching also in the Get Your Goal group.
I have a chance to actually physically talk with you. But generally speaking, when I’m saying that we talk, I’m saying that we’re talking in the comments. I’m thinking about YouTube and Facebook and Instagram, when you guys leave me comments. And then sometimes we have an actual conversation, and sometimes I just kind of absorb what you’re saying and use it as fuel for the podcast because that’s what I do. So I was thinking about bad thoughts, really specifically. I was thinking about the beginning of your mindset journey and my mindset journey because I vividly remember when I first started doing mindset work how completely overwhelmed I was at how many bad thoughts I had. Like when you start listening to your thoughts, it’s shocking how many of them are negative. Shocking. I have heard in various places that we have 60,000 thoughts a day, and that we only hear about 5% of them, and of that 5% that we hear, 80% of those are negative.
I am not terrific at doing percentage math, but I’m assuming if we have 60,000 thoughts a day and let’s say that 80% of them are negative thoughts, doesn’t that mean something like 40,000 negative thoughts a day? Maybe not. That’s the math I’m going with. We’re just going to call it good. It’s somewhere near there. And that is a lot of negativity. And when you first recognize it, it can feel like swimming upstream and you’re not a very good swimmer. It can feel like there’s just no point. It can feel very negative to notice that you have so many negative thoughts, but here’s what I want to offer you today for consideration. Bad thoughts aren’t bad.
I’m going to let you absorb that for a quick second and I’m going to explain it. All thoughts exist. They just do. They are an electrical impulse that goes through your brain that can be sparked from different things. Something you’ve seen, something you’ve heard, something somebody said, something that happened – all kinds of perceptions of things that we have of the world can travel in through whichever sense senses it. And then our brain creates a thought about that thing. The thought that you create in your brain is based on basically everything else you have ever thought in your life – from your earliest perceptions of smells and sights and sounds, and being fed and being clothed and being warm or being alone or being told no, or all of the things that happen to us when we are small children and our brains are forming every single thought basically that we’re ever going to have for the rest of our lives.
All of those perceptions that you have ever had go into the perceptions that you are having now. You perceive something and it basically goes through the filter of everything you’ve ever known in your life, so that it can be categorized in your brain as useful or un-useful, or happy or sad, or whatever, whatever kind of a category it might belong to. And every single thought that you have creates some kind of feeling. Most of these, truly, most of the thoughts you have aren’t creating some big feeling in you. Lots of them are just teeny tiny nuances of feeling because your thoughts flitter about so quickly. You’re not spending a lot of time feeling one of your thoughts unless you do so on purpose. That, by the way, is foreshadowing for later in this podcast. In any event, here’s what happens. You have a thought, that thought creates a feeling and that feeling is fuel for your actions.
The only reason we do anything, like literally anything ever, is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. And let me just clarify really quickly because I know that you’re thinking about all the things that you do all day long, like go to work or floss your teeth or other things where you’re like, no, not really pleasurable. There are different forms of pleasure that we would seek. For example, simply the pleasure of having done something. The pleasure that will come to you later in the form of money for your job or good health. We are capable, thank goodness, of delaying immediate gratification. So when I’m talking about pleasure, I’m not always talking about immediate pleasure right here in the moment. I’m talking about things that are just good for us overall in general, that we seek out for ourselves.
So your feelings are driving everything you do, and don’t do. So, knowing that, let’s take a look at what happens when we start noticing that we have a lot of bad thoughts. Here’s what I did. I started getting down on myself immediately, as soon as I recognized that I was having bad thoughts I was like, “Oh my gosh. I have to get rid of these. I am drowning in unhelpful thoughts.” And then as I was trying to think positively and feel good all the time, I was like, “I can’t seem to overcome this.” And then when I would continue to notice that I was having bad thoughts all the time, I was like, “Oh my gosh. I am so mean to myself.”
Now, every single thing that I just said probably feels very true. And this is the part of the podcast where I’m going to refer you, as I so often do, to the episode Facts vs. Opinions (Ep. 009 Facts Vs. Opinions https://pahlabfitness.com/facts-vs-opinions , just so that you can get an idea of what we’re doing here in terms of analyzing our thoughts. In that particular episode, I call it opinions. I have since really come over to the word “thought,” instead of “opinion.” They’re very interchangeable because frankly, 99.9% of your thoughts are opinions, meaning that they are not factual. But here’s the problem, your brain interprets the things that we think as factual, as truth, because your brain wants to agree with itself. Actually, a really important part of your brain’s processes is to agree with itself because otherwise it would constantly be second-guessing everything, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been in that state where you’re constantly second-guessing yourself. It’s really uncomfortable. Your brain would rather not be uncomfortable because it’s seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
So in any event, when you have these kinds of thoughts about your thoughts, I want you to notice that thinking about your thoughts as bad thoughts is actually a bad thought. It’s unhelpful. Let’s run these thoughts through the two-step tool. Really quickly this is where I’m going to refer you to the episode on mindset management, where we really go into the two-step tool (Ep. 089 Mind Management https://pahlabfitness.com/ep-089-mind-management/). It’s quite simple. Step one: find your thoughts. Step two: decide if they’re helpful. So let’s run these sentences through the two-step tool really quickly. I have to get rid of these. When you think I have to – and honestly, it doesn’t even matter how you finish that sentence. That phrase “I have to,” for me, always creates a feeling of pressure. I’m drowning in unhelpful thoughts.
When you take a look at just that sentence, what do you feel? I am drowning. Again, it doesn’t matter how you finish that sentence. This is where I’m going to refer you to the episode regarding goal language (Ep. 008 Goal Language https://pahlabfitness.com/goal-language/). I love this one. It doesn’t seem like it’s related to what we’re talking about here, but it is just kind of tangentially because in that episode, I explain how your brain basically understands the first three words of your sentence, depending on how complex your sentence is. But generally speaking, it only understands a small part of your sentence, and it usually tends to be the first two or three words. “I am,” by the way, is why we are discussing goal language. “ I am” is the most powerful phrase in the English language. It is creating your sense of who you are. So I am drowning. I mean, you can see how that would create a feeling of overwhelm, just being in over your head, that suffocating feeling. “I am” followed by whatever is what you are creating for yourself in terms of a feeling or even results in your life.
I can’t seem to overcome this. Again, those first two words “I can’t,” it almost doesn’t matter how you finish that sentence. For me, the feeling that this thought creates is defeated. As soon as I even say the words “I can’t,” my shoulders start to slump, I start to kind of shrink in on myself. You can feel how unhelpful that thought is. I am so mean to myself. When I say this, I think that I’m sounding so incredulous, like, “Ah, I’m so mean to myself.” But the feeling that thought creates, “I am mean to myself,” is that I feel judged. You guys, the two-step tool. We find our thoughts, which we just did, and then we decide if they’re helpful by feeling them individually and then labeling the feeling that it creates for you as helpful for moving forward or unhelpful for moving forward.
The feeling of pressure for me is a very “get back in bed and don’t do anything” sort of feeling. Overwhelmed, the same kind of thing. As soon as I get overwhelmed, I’ve made this joke so many times in my life. My to-do list is so long that I sat on the couch and watched TV. Like do you know what that feels like when you feel overwhelmed? It’s exhausting already. It just makes you want to sit down and here’s why: your brain is seeking pleasure and trying to avoid pain. Overwhelm is not necessarily a painful feeling, but it’s a very uncomfortable feeling, which means that your brain would like to avoid that. It avoids that by not feeling the overwhelm, by just sitting down and trying to escape it. The feeling of defeat. I mean, I already described that for you. My shoulders slumped. I didn’t want to do anything.
I want to get very small when I feel like I can’t. When I feel judged, oh my gosh, that makes me want to hide. Being judged or kind of the corollary of that one of being ashamed of being judged – depends on which way you heard that sentence – but either way, that’s a very “hide under a rock, hide under the covers, sit down and don’t do anything” sort of emotion. The emotions – the feeling that these thoughts have created for you – are unhelpful. They also, I mean, they do tend to be uncomfortable, unpleasant, bad, if you’d like to call it that. But here’s what I want you to recognize. And here’s how we’re going to recognize it. Those feelings are fuel. They are fueling actions of, well, mostly in-actions, not doing things, wanting to avoid the feeling. But for the sake of an intellectual exercise here, let’s go ahead and feel one of these feelings. For me, the easiest one is going to be “defeated.”
And I will tell you that just super quickly, feeling through your feelings is not a necessary part of the two-step tool. It is occasionally a helpful part of this process, and when it’s helpful and when it’s not helpful is a conversation for another day. In fact, we had a conversation about this and I actually do have plans to make a podcast in the future about it also, but we have one already called Food Regret and Shame that can give you some ideas of when it’s a good idea to feel your feelings and when it’s a good idea to gently redirect them (Ep. 098 Food Regret and Shame https://pahlabfitness.com/ep-098-food-regret-and-shame/). But in this case, just so you can see how this works, let’s go ahead and feel defeated. This is going to be really uncomfortable and you don’t have to play along at home unless you are sitting somewhere that you can just be in this for a moment. And I promise it’s only going to take about a moment.
Here’s how I would feel this through. Here’s how I’m going to feel this through for you live right here on the podcast. I’m going to sit somewhere comfortable. I happen to be sitting on the gray chair that you see in the background of all my workout videos. It’s one of my most favorite places to sit when one of the animals isn’t sitting in it. I’m going to put my hands on the chair because it’s really soft and really comfortable. I’m going to remind myself that I’m completely safe. I’m completely okay. And that I’m capable of feeling this feeling. Defeated is something that I have felt through before, which is why I’m going to be able to talk you through it. It might feel a lot stronger for you if you haven’t done this work before. So what we’re going to do, we’re just going to say that sentence a couple of times and really let it sink in, and then we’re going to find the feeling in our body.
“I can’t seem to overcome this. I can’t seem to overcome this. I can’t seem to overcome this.” So immediately I start feeling this in my body, in my throat. My throat closed up almost immediately upon saying that sentence the first time. I totally have tears prickling in my eyes right now. I can feel my body really flushing specifically in my torso. It feels very warm and not a pleasant kind of warm, like almost an embarrassed warm, except that this isn’t embarrassment; this really is defeat. This is crushing defeat, which is why it feels like my chest is really squeezing. My throat is really squeezing. My arms and legs feel almost numb, like all the blood has rushed into my torso, which is part of that warm feeling. But it feels constricted in my torso.
It’s like the blood can’t get out to my legs and my arms. I feel a little bit of prickling on the back of my neck. I’m capable of breathing. I picked up my hands because I was talking with them, and now I’m going to put them back down on the couch so I can remind myself that this is a feeling that I’m capable of feeling. And when I just let myself sit here with it, “I can’t seem to overcome this.” I noticed that I can swallow a little bit better. I noticed that my eyes don’t feel so cloudy. I hadn’t noticed that they had clouded over, but I feel like I can see a little bit clearer now. I notice that I can feel my fingers and toes. I can take a deeper breath, and I notice that the feeling is starting to dissipate. It felt very tight, very squeezy, very closed in, and then it started to let up.
“I can’t seem to overcome this. I can’t seem to overcome this.” Even saying that sentence now, it doesn’t conjure up the prickly feeling in my throat or my eyes. “I can’t seem to overcome this” feels very much like a thought, as opposed to when I first started saying it, a truth about myself, something that was just part of my essence. “I can’t seem to overcome this” is a thought that my brain has offered me that created a feeling of defeat. And yes, that’s already past tense because that feeling has completely dissipated from my body. This is what feelings do. Feelings come up in your body because of a mix of chemicals and hormones. It creates reactions in your body that you can describe with words like squeezing or stabbing or pulsing or tingly, or sometimes shining, or ephemeral. You can use whatever words feel appropriate for you. Sometimes I really enjoy coming up with interesting words and sometimes it hurts. It totally depends on the feeling. You’ll notice when you notice what’s going on in your body, that feelings are really unique.
There’s a reason why we’re capable of labeling something happy or sad. It feels physically different in your body than each other. Now here’s the thing; here’s where we’re going to take another left turn. You were capable of feeling that feeling. It was unpleasant, it was uncomfortable, but we felt it. We felt it in our bodies. We felt it release. We felt the energy that it had and we recognized – because of feeling it all the way through – that the thought that created that feeling wasn’t a truth; it was a thought. When you feel your feelings and you recognize how they would create for you a situation if you weren’t allowing it to dissipate on its own, how if you kind of held that in and held onto it and kept it close to you and thought that thought in an unmanaged manner where it felt very true and it seemed like the essence of you was defeatable – you can see why you would avoid doing anything from that thought. But now that we’ve gone through it, you can simply recognize that it was a thought that was unhelpful. And that the feeling it created is unhelpful for driving you forward, but now that you know that, now that you have that information, that’s good to know.
That bad thought actually provided for you good information. That means that bad thoughts aren’t bad. What? My friends, thoughts are just thoughts. They have information for you and the feelings they create are fuel for what you do. That bad thought that created a bad feeling just gave you a new thought. I’m capable of feeling anything in the world. I’m basically bulletproof. I know how to find my thoughts. I know how to feel my feelings. Oh, that bad thought and that bad feeling totally just created a situation for you where you could think good thoughts that are helpful and drive good feelings that move you forward because there’s no such thing as a bad thought. There are just thoughts. Some of them are more helpful than others.
It’s why we label them helpful and unhelpful rather than good or bad. You are capable of feeling every feeling. You are capable of thinking every thought. You are also – the best part of all – capable of recognizing all of this. This is what makes you uniquely human, your metacognition, your ability to think about your thoughts and to find the good in all of them.
Okay. Did you need some dramamine? Are you okay? That was a ride. And I really, really hope, of course, that this podcast about bad thoughts was actually helpful for you. My friends, thank you so much for joining me. I love you, and I’ll talk to you again soon.
If you’re getting a lot out of the Fitness Matters podcast and you’re ready to take it to the next level, you are going to love the Get Your Goal coaching and accountability group. We take all the theory and knowledge here on the podcast and actually apply it in real life on your real weight loss and fitness goals. It’s hands-on. It’s fun. And it works. Find out more at pahlabfitness.com/get-your-goal, and let’s get your goal.