Angela de Souza examines ‘metacognition’ and the positive effect it can have on people’s lives and careers.
One thought can change everything. But few people realise that the power to make change actually starts with one simple thought. ‘Metacognition’ is an incredibly powerful concept that remains dormant in most people. So let’s start to take back our power to change.
Your business or career can never progress past your personal blind spots, while an organisation will never progress past the leader’s constraints. And how do you become aware of your constraints? You use ‘metacognition’.
‘Metacognition’ is simply thinking about what you are thinking about. It is an awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. Understanding this concept can change your life. Do you take time to think about what you are thinking about? Few people do and those who do are more aware of their constraints, and therefore are more able to change what they think about in order to satisfy their desired outcome.
Did you know that the average person has more than 30,000 thoughts each and every day? And did you know that these thoughts generate your beliefs and your feelings, and ultimately shape your actions? Approximately 70% of our thoughts are negative and redundant. And this is the reason why most people struggle to change their normal actions and behaviour.
Not as straightforward as you may believe. Start by taking Winnie the Pooh’s advice. Find a spot where you can quietly think. Observe yourself. Where does your mind go and what occupies your thoughts? Once you’ve done this a few times, you will quickly understand why you are experiencing particular outcomes. You are now more aware of the reasons behind your outcomes than before this process began.
You can now identify your entire system of beliefs based on these thoughts, and where to challenge them. This is a powerful thing. Just because we believe something to be true, doesn’t necessarily make it true. This may be ‘our truth’ but it is not necessarily the ‘real truth’. Be open-minded enough to challenge yourself and make changes where necessary. Doing this will put you ahead of most people.
Your next step is to catch yourself when you are feeling in a particular way. This can mean both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feelings. If you want to change how you are feeling, then change the way you are thinking. It is really that simple but definitely not easy.
How do you change a thought? Well, you may need to say it out loud. By hearing yourself say something, may make it easier for you to think about it. Then you simply have to catch yourself every time you think about ‘this wrong thought’. You have to intentionally force yourself to think about the more positive pre-selected thought that you’ve already chosen. It takes a lot of effort at first but eventually becomes second nature.
You can change the trajectory of your life by changing one thought. But it remains hard work to change your life by working on your actions. This is especially tough when the root thought, belief and feeling, isn’t aligned with the action we’re taking. It’s the same as trying to steer a car without power-steering, or pushing a vehicle when the handbrake is on. You might make a small amount of progress but it will always be limited. It’s far easier to trace it back to the root thought. By taking the handbrake off, you are giving yourself the freedom to go wherever you want to.
American philosopher of the 19th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once said: Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising up every time we fail. Therefore it’s time to rise up and try again. Start by assessing your outcomes. If your achievements do not match your ambitions, then avoid working on the outcome. Much better to take the reverse approach, all the way back to the root thought. Change the thought, change your life.