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Is it a Thought or a “Thou Ought”?

tpnotes_cd_512It’s interesting to dissect the word THOUGHT. If you split it apart, you get “THOU OUGHT”. Thou Ought is as close to “I oughta do this, and I oughta do that” as anything we have heard. And it’s built invisibly into one of the most powerful words we rely on to explain how we do what we do – a thought is the byproduct of thinking. So what…

We have noticed over the years that there is a natural, human tendency which impedes desired and beneficial behavior changes. Clients usually leave the office with stronger feelings about what to do, a replenished emotional quotient, and ideas about how to move on. These “moves” co-exist in our minds as a set of thoughts and compete with all of the pre-existing ideas and thinking (and habits) that define “our true self”. But do they get relegated by some mysterious process to “thou ought’s”?.

Even though everyone knows that thoughts become things, turning your thoughts into reality is not as easy as it sounds. Achieving the idealized outcomes we seek from these new thoughtful ideas on how to move can prove to be unexplainably illusive. Yet we all know that if we want a different result, we are the ones that need to change. Job number one is not changing others, it’s changing ourselves.

To help to deal with this dilemma, TP has a simple tool all our clients love. It’s not earth shattering, but at the same time, in it’s simplicity hides that magical genie in a bottle. The tool is a pre-printed pocket sized folded index card for making lists. The folded notecard is called Turning Point Notes. It has a section for “Sharon Say’s”: ideas that clients select from a session to use as guideposts in the week(s) ahead. A second section, “The Plan”, provides a place to jot down things to do which will help implement the new ideas.  The last section is “Save It For Sharon”, to capture notes on any unexpected things or thoughts that happen during the week … the one’s worth bringing to a future session for discussion.

At the end of the day, it’s nothing more than a folded card to make lists on. But just take one and try it out. Is your cell phone taking over your life? We seem to have forgotten the simple pleasure of taking notes and making lists in pen or pencil. These “thought bits”, once recorded, offer a chance to reprocess your ideas and try out new actions, all the while reducing anxiety. The note card fits in any pocket or wallet, so you can access, view, and amend them in less than 2 seconds . . . and the battery never dies. Have you ever experienced the awkward process of waking up your cell phone, then picking the app to enter something?  Did you forget the idea you were thinking about writing in the first place? Lost thoughts can and will reappear, but why not give them a little help?

Enter TP Notes. If  you use lists to keep track of “to-do’s” and “to-get’s”, do you also capture new ideas on your lists so you can act on them?  We also noticed that most people don’t share their lists. What if this approach helped you to remember and discuss “ideas about the new you”, your successes, as well as your lessons learned, with others? Have you experienced the exhilaration of crossing items off your lists? What if these were  milestones in getting to the new you?

Many people do just fine without using lists. Consider, however, that they may actually be more anxious, without even realizing it. In spite of  challenges to get and stay organized, or to keep their schedules, they do make it happen nevertheless. Congratulations to all of you folks. Others fall into a different category. Sometimes it’s called procrastination. Other times its referred to by less favorable names like lazy, anxious, depressed, disorganized… or how about just “listless”.  It’s exciting to see how making a simple plan in the form of a mindful list can work as a real catalyst.

The best part is how this can work for children and adolescents. Teaching critical thinking is something we often hear about. However, it is difficult to teach and it’s not always part of the learning curve. Tying lists in real time to real life is part of a problem solving model that we believe stimulates and develops the logical part of a child’s mind.  It’s never to early to help our children develop this skill, and we’ve seen it change lives.

Guess what else? We have found and use “erasable pens” with our TP Notes. So learning how to make commitments(in ink), then adapt or change them based on feedback (erase/recommit), gets results.  Even if it seems too simple and surprising to be true, just maybe, there’s still some hope for good old paper and pens.

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