Sometimes we get so caught up in the little things that we don’t realize our brain is using up valuable energy on things that aren’t that important to life.
On the other end of the spectrum are the fleeting thoughts that spark powerful emotions, yet we don’t bother investing the energy into them they deserve.
Why does this even matter?
What result does it create in your life when this is happening?
In this episode, I’ll tell you what I see over years of coaching, and I’ll offer you a simple way to notice if your mental energy is going into things that really matter or being wasted on “Lindsey Lohan” thoughts.
Check out this episode and learn how to use your mental energy wisely.
Referred to in this episode:
Read the full transcript below:
Laura Lummer 00:00
You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to episode 256 of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm thrilled as always to be here with you today. We've got some good stuff to cover something I'm really excited to talk about. But before I jump into it, I want to give you a reminder. And what helps me to remind you today is that my lymphedema has really been acting up lately. And it reminds me that so many of us deal with lymphedema. And actually after breast cancer surgery, many of us who have had lymph nodes removed and maybe haven't had any problems with lymphedema like I didn't have any problem with lymphedema four years after my lymph node was removed. In my initial surgery in 2011. My initial lumpectomy during my first diagnosis, I had nine lymph nodes removed, but I never had swelling and or lymphedema. It wasn't until in 2020 When I was diagnosed with metastatic disease and I had to be on crutches for a period of months. That the pressure from the crutches exacerbated the lymphedema. And then the lymphedema has been what we would call moderate to severe ever since. So different things come up in life. And let me own this fully. Sometimes lymphedema becomes a pain in the ass to manage, and we just get sick of it. And I went through a period of getting sick of it because I was managing so many other things. And honestly, I have this wonderful suit. Many of you use a flexi Touch machine against lymphatic massage therapy while I'm at home, I have gloves and compression sleeves. And sometimes it's just one thing too many. So I did go through a few weeks without managing it. And I am doing heat therapies right now. And that has a tendency to exacerbate it. But it just makes me think about lymphedema and educating ourselves on it. So I wanted to remind you that in the resources section of my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com, I have a free download. It is a book that I co authored with Andrea Leonard, who is the CEO and founder of the cancer exercise Institute. And we co authored a book on lymphedema and what it's all about, so you can get a really good understanding of lymphedema, you can get a good understanding of exercises that you can do that are very gentle and very easy to help you manage lymphedema and just get some insights into what can happen and what can trigger lymphedema because once you've had lymph nodes removed, you are at a lifetime risk. And we have to take really good care of that limb or limbs in which we've had lymph nodes removed. So go on over the website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com, click on Resources up at the top. And you will see not only the lymphedema book, but other free downloads that I have to support you in whatever you're going through. And wherever you're at, in this cancer in process. Alright, so let's jump into this show. There's a pattern that's become really clear for me lately. Isn't it interesting how we'll go through life. And oftentimes we'll see the same thing, many, many times. But there's just one day when you have this epiphany one day when things just get really lucid and really clear. And you say, wow, you know what, this is a pattern that comes up a lot. So I want to talk about this because I believe creating awareness is the key to being able to move forward. Once we become aware of what we're doing, then we start to notice it more. And when we start to notice it more than we can take steps towards managing it. So I obviously coach people all the time on what thoughts they have, and how those thoughts really manifest into results in their life. Why don't we do that? Because everything starts with the way that we think everything starts with the way that we think is the most powerful thing and it is the pretty much the only thing we have control over is what are we going to choose? How are we going to think what decisions are we going to make for ourselves? It all starts with our thoughts. But I see a lot of times we get very invested in thoughts that are not deserving of our energy of our attention. And then we have these other thoughts that may come up that really and truly are deserving of our energy and our intention and then work on Those thoughts that we oftentimes end up dismissing. So I want to talk about three different types of thoughts. I see more than this. But I think that these are three of the biggest categories. Lots of other small categories fall under these. But if we can develop our awareness of these three types of ways of thinking and how we invest our energy into them, I think it can be a big step forward in helping you to manage your mind, helping you to create calmer and more confident and more empowered emotions for yourself. And saving that very precious energy. Because Come on, energy is a limited resource, and we want to use it in the things that are really and truly important. We don't want to get so caught up in investing tons of energy, and things that really don't matter, that we don't have the mental or emotional or physical capacity to focus on things that do matter. So let's take a look at this. Now, there are different ways of thinking and our brains are absolutely fascinating. They're just these fantastic machines. And I often think of the movie Inside Out, if you've never seen or heard of the movie Inside Out, it's a Disney Pixar creation. And it's super cute. And these little characters represent the emotions that are inside of this little girl's brain. And they're kind of managing what's going on in her brain and thoughts come up. And thoughts are represented by these little balls, these little kind of bubble balls that just come up and surface inside of her head, and they'll pull on off of this conveyor belt, and one of the emotions from disgust to joy or sadness will be involved in this thought. And it's just It's cute. It's funny. And I think one of the things that stands out to me, I saw this movie years ago, and one of the things that stands out to me is how randomly, a slogan from some commercial in the 1970s will pop into my head while I'm making dinner one night, and then the next thing you know, I'm humming that slogan for the next two days. And there's a little excerpt in that movie where these commercial slogans pop up into our heads. So it's really cute. And I often think about that movie and how true it is when it comes to representing the randomness oftentimes, of the way that we think and how these wild thoughts just pop up for no apparent reason. But that's okay. And it's normal. It's just the way the human brain works. What the problem is, with this type of thought, is if we get caught up in it, if we start judging ourselves for it, if we start putting a lot of energy into figuring it out. Now, I call this level of thinking, Lindsay Lohan thoughts. And it's not that Lindsay Lohan has insignificant thoughts. It's because one story I've shared on a previous episode of the podcast, but I'll tell you again, when I was sitting on the beach one day, and I'm just admiring the ocean, and I'm having my quiet time, and all of a sudden, I realized that the saw has popped into my head that says, wonder what's going on with Lindsay Lohan. And as I become aware of that thought, I just kind of giggled, I just kind of laughed, and I just recognize the randomness sometimes of thoughts that pop up. Now, I didn't invest any energy, I didn't start Googling what's going on with Lindsay Lohan, I just noticed that sometimes silly thoughts come up. And it's those silly thoughts that pop into our head, about whatever it may be in life that we can look at and say, Okay, now that's just wild. Where did that come from? You know,
Laura Lummer 08:31
why did that come up out of the archives? All of a sudden, how many years has been since I've even seen a picture of this actress? Right? Who knows why those thoughts come up? But those kinds of thoughts, they're really not deserving of energy, right? They're just not deserving of giving them more thought, or questioning them or saying, Gosh, why did I think about that? What is wrong with me? Why does my brain work like that? They're just not worth the energy. Because they're silly, and they're random, and they have no impact on your life, no meaning on your life. And yet, sometimes, I will see clients who invest a tremendous amount of energy into this type of Lindsay Lohan thought right into this random thought that might pop up in their head. The thought is not real. It has nothing to do with their life. It's not any kind of impending threat. It's just not even grounded in some kind of reality or anything meaningful. And yet, they'll get very caught up in wondering why and thinking about this type of silly thought. So I want to make you aware of that because it happens to all of us. I mean, I think that the last statistic that I saw was something like our human brain offers up 60,000 thoughts a day, an average of 60,000 thoughts. That's an incredible amount of thinking. Now, we don't want to give energy to 60,000 random thoughts that pop up into our head like, oh, gosh, that seems like the third purple pencil I've seen today who cares somewhat right purple pencils, no big deal. Some thoughts we have to just recognize as random, insignificant, and let them go. And when they become a problem is when we see ourselves investing a lot of time into a thought, that has no significance in our life, something to be aware of the second type of font that I see, and this becomes a little more common. And I see this absorb a lot more energy, this type of thought actually can create a lot of anxiety, a lot of sadness, and it can continually recreate trauma in our lives. And this is thoughts of something that's happened in the past that we look at with judgment. And we look at with shame. These are thoughts of maybe even impressions we've had. And what I mean by that is, it hasn't really happened in your life, or it hasn't happened in your life. But you heard that it happened to someone else. So we have an impression of something because we saw it on a movie, we saw it on social media, we heard a story that a friend of a friend, that's something happened to, and then we invest a lot of energy into thinking about this thing, which is maybe devastating, maybe scary, maybe it's a new disease diagnosis, maybe it's a fearful thing that creates worry for you if you start to think about it. Or perhaps it's something that is real in your life that you've done in your past. And you go back to that thought over and over, and you beat yourself up for it. This is where I see a lot of energy get invested. And here's what I want to offer. Because in this situation in particular, this is one of those situations where that Buddha is saying that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. This is where that applies. Because we may have done things in our past, most of us, most everybody, I could say everybody, but that's a gross generalization. But pretty much everybody I know has done something in their life in their past that now with today's mind, they look back at and aren't proud of, or for that snapshot that moment in their life they felt guilty about. And friends, I see people go back 3040 years or more, and continue to beat themselves up and judge themselves and condemn themselves. For these memories of the past. This is suffering, this is the truest form of suffering. So perhaps that decision, that action, it created pain in that moment pain for you, maybe pain for someone else, maybe something you felt bad about. And you had to work through that. But now that we move and moved, and we're into the future, here's what I like to offer. With that kind of thinking. We can either make a conscious choice to take those kinds of thoughts, and harm ourselves with them repeatedly, repeatedly, over and over and over again. And here's what I hear sometimes the story that people tell me is, every time I think about that, right, I relive it, I feel it again, it brings it back. And here's what I want to offer. It doesn't just bring it back, we don't pull that emotion out of the past. And we're in it again, we actually recreate it now. We go back to thoughts about it. And now that it's had time to season, we add more thoughts on it. Because now we're more mature now we've made better decisions. Now we look at it with more judgment. Why did I do it? Why didn't I change sooner? Why didn't I see it faster? Who else did this impact and we pile on and pile on and pile on. And we create more suffering for ourselves. So this kind of fight is just so detrimental, because it continually creates toxic emotions, and toxic emotions in our body create toxic physical chemical reactions that undermine our health. It creates stress, and it undermines our body's ability to have the strongest immune system that it can. It undermines our ability to love ourselves. And what I want to offer with this type of thinking is that when you become aware that you are having thoughts, and you're investing a lot of energy into these thoughts of something that happened in the past, a lot of energy into the thought of something someone told you happen to someone else. And you're noticing that you are recreating pain for yourself that you are reimagining and sometimes just completely imagining something that creates pain for yourself. This is something to have a heightened awareness of. It's a big part of our lives. And so it does require a lot of attention. And what I think is the best approach to it, is when we begin to look at it, and instead of with judgment, we apply curiosity. And we apply curiosity. And what I mean is not wonder why I did that. We know why we did things in our life, right? But what about that person that you were when you did that thing, I don't care if it was a week ago, because a week ago, you may have been in a very different place emotionally, physically, spiritually than you are today, things can change very rapidly in this life. So when we bring up these thoughts of something that happened previously, or something we heard has happened to someone else. And we catch ourselves investing a lot of energy into thinking about it in a way that creates pain. I suggest we stop and step back and say, Okay, what is the deal here? Why am I investing this energy? How is this serving me? You know, I have this litmus test for our thoughts. Is this thought true? And does this thought serve me to keep thinking about in the same way, because I say, we can change our past, and we change our past by looking at our past and getting curious, we change our past by looking at it and saying, Where was this person? Where was I that past version of myself at this point in my life? What was I experiencing? Can we get curious and have some compassion for the past versions of ourselves, rather than having judgment and condemnation for the previous versions of ourselves? Can we approach ourselves with forgiveness and love and self compassion, when we can do that, at this level of thinking, when we're thinking about a past memory, then we give ourselves the option of release, we give ourselves a chance to let go of whatever happened in the past, and to use what we learned from that, to love ourselves more, and to make better choices and decisions going forward. It helps no one ever to stay in the past, beating yourself up. When it comes to life, I don't think I have to give you specific examples. We
Laura Lummer 17:39
all have examples of that. Something we may have said to a parent to a good friend, something we may have done in a relationship. The way we lost our temper was one of our children when they were young, and never let it go. And what is the point of that, right decades later? What is the point of that? How does that serve you or anyone else in your life and around you. But taking that thought and looking at it in a different way, changes our perception of the past, brings us more into this moment, and gives us a tool to become closer to the person we desire to be right to move closer to that person. And if we're doing this on an impression, you know, something we've heard from someone else, then we can apply that same litmus test. Is it true? Does it serve me. And it may be that that thought is true for someone else. But we always have to remember and that's not our story. When we hear something, no matter how sad it is, that someone else has gone through, of course, we want to show up with empathy and compassion. We're connected to these people to every human being. And we want to feel that compassion and that humanity. But we want to be careful not to cross over that line and draw that into our own life, and try to weave it into our own reality. Now, I see this a lot when it comes to people going through cancer, and then hearing other people's stories, recurrences diagnosis, Nightmare infections, all the things that could go wrong, and then weaving it into their own story and starting to believe that could happen to them. So this is another level of thought to be where it's a big step up from Lindsay Lohan thinking. And it takes I would say, a tremendous amount of energy, right? So we invest I see a lot of energy misplaced and misplaced idli. Like, is that a word? I see a lot of energy placed haphazardly into worrying about these silly thoughts that pop up. And then I see a lot of energy next level, going into holding on to judgment of our past. And now the third level of thinking this is really interesting, because this is a kind of thinking that I see as being very significant. And having deep roots into things we can investigate for ourselves, that can just catapult us into a bigger and better future version of ourselves. But oftentimes, this is a level of thinking that gets very little attention, that we tend to be very dismissive of judgmental of it in a different way than the category I just talked about. When we're talking about memories of ourselves, we're talking about putting an investing a lot of energy into thoughts from the past, that comes with a whole lot of really self deprecation, a lot of thoughts, a lot of judgment, a lot of telling yourself, you're a bad person, that type of thing, a lot of guilt. And again, like I said, that can create a lot of suffering, whereas this mixed type of thinking, it also comes with judgment, but the judgment is very dismissive, that judgments like that's just silly. That's ridiculous. And we dismiss these thoughts. So let me give you an example of these thoughts. These are the kinds of thoughts where conditioned beliefs, the way you've learned to think about how life should be conditioned beliefs are triggered, somebody's talking to you, something happens, and something triggers in you, and you have this thought, and this thought may make you feel very insecure in the moment, this thought might bring up fear, this thought might bring up jealousy, this thought might bring up memories of being isolated or left out or unworthy. And let me give you an example. I have a person that I was coaching, and that person has a relative in their family, who had a amazing opportunity come up for them recently. And the person that I was coaching was, in the same moment, very happy for this relative that they care about, but also experiencing a tremendous amount of insecurity, about what the other person's opportunity would mean, to their relationship and their connection. This person was very concerned that they might be left behind, that they might be forgotten that they were not as worthy, or that their life wasn't as meaningful as this other person's because now this other person has this great opportunity. And they did it. Now, when that thought came up of Oh, my gosh, you know, I'm feeling really insecure here. The person I was coaching went straight to that's, that's just silly. That's just ridiculous and dismiss that thought. And that's what I want you to be aware of those thoughts are really significant. Because those are the kinds of thoughts that actually hold us back from looking at what we're conditioned to think. And giving us some space to process where that condition thinking comes from. And let me explain why that's important. Because when we have a thought come up, and we notice, like, Oh, my God, I'm feeling really insecure. And then we say, okay, that's just stupid. I have no reason to feel insecure. That person has been my friend forever. We love each other. I don't have to worry about losing my friend. That's just silly. Right? What we're doing is invalidating our own feelings and our own thoughts. Now, in this scenario, just as in the the last scenario that I offered you curiosity, again becomes very valuable. Because rather than becoming dismissive, rather than noticing, I feel unworthy, I feel insecure. I feel like now they're better than me. I feel like they want to hang out with me. I feel like they won't be around me. Oh, that's silly. That's stupid. That's ridiculous. Or here's what I hear all the time. That's just crazy. That's just crazy thinking. Rather than thinking that I would offer that again, we apply curiosity, that when you notice a thought like that come up, you say, Huh, well, that's interesting. Wow, that is so interesting that I just noticed insecurity come up. And it felt really powerful to me. What was behind that? I wonder? What's my true thinking there? Because that's how we process the types of thoughts and emotions that cause kind of breaches in our relationship, in even in our relationship with ourself. When we can take the time to invest energy into that thinking, get curious about that thinking, and ask ourselves some really important questions and investigate it, then we have an opportunity for growth because again, it gives us a chance to let go of conditioned thinking. So when we apply curiosity in that second scenario where we're judging ourselves from the past, when we apply curiosity, it gives us space and opportunity for grace for free. giveness for revisiting a past version of ourselves and being caring for that person, and creates more opportunity for us to be able to grow. When we apply curiosity instead of dismissiveness to sudden, powerful triggered feelings. Then again, we get to notice, you know what? I think I'm carrying with me, a thought that I had from when I was in seventh grade. And my best friend got on the cheerleading squad, and I didn't, and then they were no longer my friend. And here I am 57. And I'm still allowing my seven year old self, to feel this way about relationships. That's what can happen when we get curious, rather than dismissive about thoughts where we just say, oh, that's crazy thinking. I would love for you to be more aware of all the times that you tell yourself. That's silly. That's crazy. That's ridiculous. I don't know where that came from. And instead of doing those things, let those be cues for you. When you hear yourself being dismissive of your thoughts. let those be cues that say, Hmm, why am I being dismissive of that thought, the thought came up, therefore, there's something there, I felt it powerfully. So what's the difference between this thought just popping up and triggering, and Lindsay Lohan thought about some slogan from a 1970s, commercial, these thoughts, this type of thought were triggers, and you feel that powerful emotion. That's something that's impacting your life. And that's something that can have a future impact in your life. And it's something that if you don't stop and get curious about it, you can allow it to fester. And when it festers, when things fester, it's because we hold them down, right? We don't clean them out. We don't process them. We don't look at them and say what's true and what's not true. And where did this come from? And can I let this go? Now, you know, we talk about carrying baggage and having baggage to me. That's all the thoughts from our past that we just keep picking up and carrying with us pick it up and carrying with us. And so we might say, Wow, you got a lot of bags, there you go, Oh, that's silly. It's
Laura Lummer 27:17
fine. Everybody has this, we just won't even look at those. But it's important to look at them, it's important to get curious about that. Because then we can say, You know what, I can leave that bag behind, and no longer has anything in it that's relevant or important to be in my life, or in the future version of myself and my life that I'm working on creating. Alright, so let's just quickly review these, again, the different kinds of thinking that we want to be aware of random thoughts that have no meaning. Let's not give those the precious energy. And sometimes the very limited energy that we have, that we become aware of we ask ourselves, is this an important thing for me? If I invest energy into thinking about this? Is this going to impact my life in some way? Okay, let it go. Then we have the thoughts from the past, look at how much energy I'm investing into making myself feel like shit. Look at how much energy I'm investing into judging myself into recreating pain, and then to stacking suffering on top of something that happened in the past that cannot be changed. And can I take this and get curious about it and look at it as a way for me to learn and grow and release when I'm holding on to. And then the final type of thinking, those thoughts that come up, that trigger a powerful emotion. And we quickly dismiss as being silly or ridiculous, and investing some time in those to understand ourselves a little better. And to recognize that something that creates such a strong emotion is probably not silly. It's probably worthy of giving it a little bit of energy, maybe a lot of energy, and thinking about it, and seeing if it's something that you can release, or you can rethink, you can recreate in a new way that serves you better. All right. I hope that gives you some clarity. I hope that all makes sense to you. Because I think it's so important. When we're looking at what we are doing to ourselves, you know, often have clients say, I just How long am I going to keep feeling like this? And I'll ask them, I don't know how long you're gonna keep doing that to yourself. You know, when I was trained at the Life Coach School, Brooke Castillo has this thing. And she says she talks about when she first started coaching people, and she says, I just want to tell my clients stop punching yourself in the face. And they would say, you know, it just hurts so much I keep this is happening and it's hurting so much and he says, Yeah, and it's gonna keep hurting if you're gonna keep punching yourself in the face. So how longer you're going to do that. And when it comes to that second level of thinking, one where we hold everything against ourselves, the one where we're saying, I'm constantly like on the verge of unworthiness and insecurity and anxiety and depression and just just purposelessness in my life, how long are you going to do that to yourself? Right? That's a very important question to apply. Because there is a way to get curious and to look at these things in a different way. So you are not constantly beating yourself up. And then we can look at when we release these things, when we leave that baggage behind when we decide it's okay to forgive ourselves and love ourselves anyway, we create so much space to move in to what I was called the future focus for our life and that life that truly is better than before breast cancer. And that's what we're after, isn't it? Isn't that what we all want? That's what I want for you. All right. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram, Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach, DM me, and let me know what you think. You can join my free Facebook group, the breast cancer recovery group, where we share a lot of thoughts and support each other. There's over 1000 Women in there who have had breast cancer, and it's a group that's all about support and moving forward, and helping you to create that life that you want to live. And then of course, there's the Ultimate Package which is join the better than before breast cancer membership, and become a member and get coaching and work on all of the things that it takes for us to put our energy into to create the life that you desire on every conceivable level. All right, you can find all the information on all of this on my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com And I hope you go there and check it all out and also remember to download the book on lymphedema that you'll find in the resources section. Alright, I will talk to you again soon. Until then, be good to yourself.