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My Heart Brain Connection | Lindsay Sealey

Please read Lindsay's story of not only listening to her heart but taking action and following it. Lindsay shares tips on positively shifting thoughts into feelings. Enjoy reading!
Lindsay Sealey Founder of Bold New Girls
I have been thinking a lot lately. This is not abnormal in any way for me and maybe for you, too. However, what is new for me is how much I’ve been thinking lately about my heart - how sensitive and gentle I am, how much I am longing for heart to heart conversations with people I love, and how I want to love, learn, and lead, with an open, authentic, and ever expanding heart.
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In thinking about my thinking, I’ve realized a few important lessons: I think way more than I feel, my thinking can be very negative, extreme, and distorted, and I have the power and choice to change my ways. We all do!
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I want to share some examples and strategies for how I am working on shifting how I’m thinking to how I’m feeling:
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Awareness and noticing: I’m becoming more aware of how negative I think and also how negative I interpret. For example, someone may say, “I have to cancel” and I worry that I did something offensive. I may experience disappointment such as a cancelled meeting or a “to do” list that doesn’t seem to end (ever), or I may send a text and not get a response. All of which lead me to wonder what this all means (if anything) and, worse still, if it means I’m now measuring up, if I’m just not good enough. So often, I conclude I’m not. My thinking is extreme - I literally go from A to Z as in someone may ask to chat with me and my brain assumes there is a problem and I made a mistake when in all reality, it may be a conversation to give me a compliment or suggest an exciting idea! As I become more aware of what I am thinking, I’m less concerned about the why (painful childhood experiences) as I am about the how - the forward steps and movement. I ask myself this honest question: “Is this thought true?” And, “How do I know? What is my evidence?” I try to consider several possibilities (as in, what else could this mean, if anything?) and I practice more balanced thinking, such as the 50:50 rule: there is a 50% chance I will get the new contract and a 50% chance I won’t. What I know for sure is that I’ll give it my best! Think of all the energy we all waste thinking too much, worrying, and ruminating.
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Asking questions of curiosity, not self-criticism: I criticize myself for everything: a mistake, a misstep, an incorrect word or an error in judgement: sometimes, I forget to call someone back, I plug a meter but don’t add enough money for the time needed, my language may sound judgmental, “Why would you do that?”, or I may choose to be part of a team or project that doesn’t align with my values. All of these situations are not really mistakes and yet I’ll feel shame - beyond thinking I did something bad to feeling I am a bad person. In reality, these are actually all opportunities to learn and grow, to do better or differently next time. So when I hear critical me, being mean to sensitive me, I remind myself of how I speak to friends who are struggling or having a bad day - with an abundance of empathy and understanding. I then try to speak to myself with the same tenderness. I ask myself what I learned and how I can change or prevent something from happening next time. And, perhaps most oddly of all, I say, “Thank you”! Clearly I needed to learn (maybe for the second or even third time) and oh what a gift this chance really is - it’s all about perception and shifting.
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Taking action and consistent effort: like everything in life, practice makes progress (please note I did not say perfect as I am working hard on eliminating this word from my vernacular and letting go of my perfectionist ways). I have repeatedly practiced my negative thought patterns and may I say, I am excellent at them. I’ve talked about them, I’ve written them down. I’ve asked more why questions than I care to count or admit to you. I have put in consistent time and energy and focused on my thoughts. The other day, I realized that I could take all my focus and energy and attend to my positive thoughts - at least there will be balance. I’ve learned to rewire my brain. Here’s how. I catch thoughts now but without judgement. I see my thoughts as neutral, almost like balloons - I can hang on and sort them out or simply let them go. Either way, I choose to be kind and compassionate to myself. I also give my thoughts a shelf life. I may think about a topic after I encounter an uncomfortable situation but I can now “put the thought on a shelf” so it doesn’t become unhealthy rumination. Yes, I can always come back to it. More often than not, I don’t. Finally, and maybe the best trick of all, I acknowledge, “That’s what is on your mind” (acceptance) and I ask, “What is on your heart”? (discovery). You know what happens? I soften. I relax. And I consider what my most authentic self is experiencing, what I want, and what I need. It’s kind of like a soft blanket when you are feeling slightly chilly. When my thoughts become more caring and also more positive, hopeful, and self-promoting, my feelings follow!
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I am an eternal learner. I love knowledge. I seek out learning opportunities. Yet, I have a tendency to over think and over analyze, especially when I may be better off asking, “How am I feeling?” I search for connections, making meaning, and understanding and sometimes, it can mean missing out on life. I don’t want to miss out.
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I know we all have a lot more to think about these days as we navigate unchartered experiences. We need to think: to plan, to prepare, and to process. At the same time, we also need to feel free to truly be ourselves and live our lives whole heartedly.
Lindsay Sealey
Founder of Bold New Girls