Ep. 208: Why We Find Our THOUGHTS

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Today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast sets the foundation about how you look at your thoughts - and, in essence, your entire self.

Did you know that most people come to mindset work because they want to FEEL BETTER?  I know I did🙋, and maybe that’s why you’re here too. 

But when it comes to your thoughts, do you ever wonder about the big picture🎨?  The WHY behind what we do with our thoughts?

Today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast sets the foundation about how you look at your thoughts - and, in essence, your entire self.

Today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast sets the foundation about how you look at your thoughts – and, in essence, your entire self. I’m explaining the benefits of seeing the forest🌄 AND the trees🌳 when it comes to FEELING YOUR BEST👌 and getting the RESULTS in life that you want🏆. 

Tune in now, and let’s GO!

(Don’t wanna listen? Access the transcript here)

Find this episode on YouTube (video below) or on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Play.


Can’t see the video? Click here to watch it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/qARVXA5oa_E


Ep. 089:  Mind MANAGEMENT

Ep. 084: What is a THOUGHT?

Ep. 032: How to CHANGE

Ep. 009: Facts vs. Opinions

Ep. 045: How I JOURNAL for Success


Ep. 008: GOAL Language

Join the Get Your GOAL Coaching + Accountability Facebook group: https://pahlabfitness.com/get-your-goal/

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Why We Find Our THOUGHTS (Full Transcript) 

You’re listening to the Fitness Matters Podcast with Pahla B, and this is episode number 208, “Why We Find Our 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.

Okay. You know that I had a hard time not just singing that whole intro, right? Episode number 208. Are you kidding me? This is so exciting. You guys, if the last episode that you listened to was episode number 100, you have not missed anything. This is me finally taking credit for all the work that I have done in the realm of being a life coach long before I was an actual life coach.

Honestly, now that I’m saying this out loud, this is something that is at some point going to be an entire podcast episode about taking credit where you need to, because we very, very often don’t take credit for all of our accomplishments. This is something that your brain does very naturally. Here’s a little podcast episode within an episode. Here you go. This is something that your brain does naturally. Your upper brain literally evolved to look for and solve problems. It does not look for and not solve your accomplishments. It just doesn’t. Looking for your accomplishments, taking credit for them – it’s not UNnatural, but it doesn’t come naturally to us the way that looking for a problem comes to us. It is a learned skill. And frankly, it is one that I wholeheartedly suggest that you do learn because when you can take credit for your small accomplishments, it helps you learn how to take credit for your big accomplishments.

The fact is if you have a goal, any kind of a goal in your life, you’re going to want to actually take credit for that when you get it, otherwise you’re going to get there and it’s going to feel like, “Oh, just another day, no big deal.” And it’ll all feel like it was for naught. And it was not for naught; it was for you getting your goal. Okay. Anyway, hi episode 208. This is why we’re here. I love it when I just ramble right at the get-go, because that’s what happens sometimes. I’ll tell you one of the reasons I’m rambling. I’m a little nervous about this one for no good reason. I know what I want to talk to you about, but I also know that I want to talk to you about it in a really specific way that I don’t always. Sometimes I’ll just turn on the recorder and start talking, and we’ll just see what comes out of my mouth.

But today I already know that I want to say certain things in a certain way. There’s a very particular kind of language that I want to be using. When I put parameters on it like that, my brain offers me something along the lines of, “Well, you’re just going to mess that up.” And I might. Let’s see. Let’s just see what happens. You guys. Today is . . . I’m going to call today a foundational episode. This is one of the ones that really sets the stage for all of the specific episodes about a specific thought that you’re thinking like, “I’m not losing weight,” or “I can’t sleep,” or things like that. This is one of the episodes that takes a big picture look at why we find our thoughts, at why we do mind management, why we do this work at all.

The reason I really wanted to talk to you about this is because I know that sometimes it can feel, well, frankly, it feels hard. It feels like it’s difficult to do. Therefore, it’s really nice to know why you’re doing it. When you are in the thick of the beginning stages of mindset work . . . I remember so vividly when I first started this stuff. I’m sorry, I’m cracking myself up. I was just going to say, I cried all the time. I actually still cry all the time. So I don’t know why that would be different. But I cried all the time because it felt so hard as opposed to crying all the time because I’m feeling my feelings and allowing myself to just simply be who I am. That’s really funny.

In any event, when I first started doing mindset work, I found it so difficult to wrap my brain around what I was doing and why. I knew I wanted to feel better, and I do think that’s probably why most of you have come to mindset work. I have given you this promise: Oh, of course, you’re going to feel better. When you find your thoughts, it can help you get your goals and be productive and be amazing in the world. That is why. But it’s not what I’m going to call the deeper reason that I feel might be really important to you. It’s important to me. It’s funny because I didn’t know it was important to me until I started doing a lot deeper thinking about this. When I had this realization, it was like, “Oh, this is why it feels so right. This is why it feels so good. This is why I keep going with it.”

You guys, we have not had an entire episode where I have talked about being the observer of your thoughts. [NOTE to readers of this podcast transcription: Pahla has since done a podcast on this topic. Link is here: Ep. 211 The Compassionate Observer https://pahlabfitness.com/?s=the+compassionate+observer.] And so I’m going to cover this briefly now, but noting to myself as I often do, there probably needs to be more of this conversation. This really could be an entire episode all by itself, another foundational episode. We’ve touched on it before in other foundational episodes, like episode number 89 (Ep. 089 Mind Management https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/89-mind-management/). I actually looked these up, the other ones that I have. On the front of my YouTube channel, which may or may not be where you actually listen to the “Fitness Matters” podcast. I mean, obviously you can find it anywhere and by the way, thank you for leaving ratings and reviews wherever you listen.

When you go to my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/TheFitnessMattersPodcast), there’s actually a section right at the top of the page that says, “If you’re new to the ‘Fitness Matters’ podcast, start here.”  If you listen to Episode 89, Mind Management (https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/89-mind-management/), you’ll get an overview of how this stuff works. Episode 84, What is a Thought? (https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/84-what-is-a-thought/) is one of my absolute favorites, one of the least listened to episodes of all, and it’s one of my absolute favorites. It’s super funny to me because it doesn’t sound very exciting, but I loved recording that one. I think it’s a really important foundational concept for you, so if you haven’t listened to that one yet, go on over there. Episode number 32 is one of my hands down favorites, How to Change (https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/32-how-to-change/). And then of course, of course, episode 9, which is Facts Vs. Opinions https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/9-facts-opinions/).

Those four, and I think this one, really make up the core of what we do and how we do it. And this one really specifically why we do it. But one of the things that we do is we observe our thoughts and the way that I generally tell you to observe your thoughts is by writing them down. It’s hands down the easiest way to see, literally, what you are thinking. Ask yourself a question, sit down with a piece of paper, and just write out all of the answers that come up without censoring yourself, without trying to think about what you are thinking. Simply write down everything that pops into your head. There’s a whole episode about this. (Ep. 45 How I Journal for Success https://pahlabfitness.com/how-i-journal-for-success/).

This episode talks about the exact process that I have for asking myself a question, which is something along the lines of, “What do I think about such-and-such?” Then simply writing up every single thing that pops into my head without thinking about it. I will tell you that every single time I do – which is not every day, but most days of the week – every single time something comes out of my pen that I had no idea was in my head. Something comes out on the page that I did not hear in my brain. That’s why it’s so effective to journal. We don’t always hear what we’re thinking.

And when you do finally hear it, you are observing what you are thinking. Now, again, writing it down on paper makes it really easy to actually see what you are thinking. You can also do this in your own head. And I looked this up really recently because I wanted to make the claim that humans are the only ones that have self-awareness like this, that have the ability to think about their thoughts. That’s why I looked it up. I knew that probably wasn’t true. Of course, it’s difficult to interact and understand other animals because they don’t speak our language, but apparently there is some evidence that there are some other animals that seem to have the self-awareness that we do, meaning that they seem to be able to recognize themselves as a self, really specifically dolphins.

And there’s at least one, I think, monkey – maybe it was chimpanzees. Maybe it was something else. I didn’t write it down, and I don’t remember. I’ve got a sleeping cat on my lap right now, so I’m not going to look it up right this second, because I’m just sitting really still, which is hard for me. But anyway, there could be other animals that are capable of thinking about their thoughts the way that we can think about our thoughts. It does require language, which does narrow the field quite a bit, but also it requires a sense of self to be able to do that. That’s the direction that I’m going in today, about our sense of self and why we would want to find our thoughts. The observer, and this is actually a well-known psychological principle.

And I would say that maybe most of the time it is called the observer or the watcher. I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s pop psychology or actual scientists who use that phrase. I’ve heard it from lots of different places, so I’m not going to call that universal, but a well-known name for what we would call that part of our brain. Okay. Let me also clarify. Let me clarify a couple of things. Number one: I’m not a brain scientist, not a psychologist, scientist, psychiatrist, any sort of a doctor, anybody who has extra special knowledge about this sort of stuff. I’m very fascinated by the brain, but I don’t purport to be any brain scientist at all. But here’s what I’m going to tell you. When I’m talking about parts of your brain, it’s not necessarily a physical part of your brain.

The way that I understand the brain – my very rudimentary layperson’s understanding – is that your brain works together in a way that allows us to identify certain parts that seem to do certain things. But then because your brain is so complex and our behaviors and our life and our environment is so complex, even very specific tasks or specific kinds of thoughts can come from lots of different areas of the brain all at the same time. Brain scientists know a lot about our brain, but we absolutely positively hands down do not know everything, not by a long shot. At all. Anyway, so when I’m talking about parts of the brain, sometimes I might be referring to a couple of different ways that I would talk about it. For example, I frequently talk about the lizard brain, the brain that is more instinctual and is the part where we have our subconscious thoughts, where it’s not even necessarily thinking in language.

It really is thinking so quickly and reacting so quickly with things that feel more instinctual. Then we have what I call the upper brain – which is the part of the brain that evolved as we became human beings – that is far more logical. It is the house of things like language and reasoning and all of those kinds of things that would seem to be the observer or the watcher. Here’s what I’m going to float out there for you today. When I talk about the observer or the watcher, it is the part of your brain that is capable of thinking about your thoughts. Then you also have the thinking brain that could encompass really both parts of your brain, both the logical part and the more lizard or the older part of your brain.

This is what I’m going to float out there to you today. First of all, let me tell you, before I start floating my thoughts on this. Like always, I really want you to take away from this podcast whatever you want to take away from this podcast. Again, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. I’m not saying this is the thing. I’m saying, this is something that I have thought about for myself, and it’s a way that makes sense to me. Therefore, I’m going to explain it to you and if it feels like it makes sense to you, it feels right to you, then take that with you. If everything that I say today sounds like a bunch of hooey, go ahead and think that too. It’s completely okay with me. I’m never offended by . . .  That’s not entirely true. I’m never offended for very long.

I will feel the offense – feel it all the way through – and let it go. But I understand that what I am telling you is my opinion, and you are welcome to have an opinion about my opinion, because that is your right as an adult with agency in this world. Thank goodness for it. You have complete authority over what you believe and what you don’t believe, and that is what we talk about all the time here. Okay. Anyway, when I think about the observer or the watcher of the brain, I personally feel like that part of us comes from someplace else. Yes, of course, it is a part of our physical body, our ability to think about our thoughts, but I feel like the observer, the ability to think about your thoughts comes from . . . here’s where I want to be really careful about the language that I use.

I’m going to digress yet again, but I promise I’m getting to it. I’m going to use several different phrases for the specific reason of being incredibly respectful to you and your belief system. I don’t want to tell you, “This is something with this particular word or this particular language, because this is the right way to think about it.” I have a deep abiding respect for what you already believe, and if the words I use don’t resonate with you, I know that you can find the word that does. Therefore, I’m going to use several different words that are not the exact same thing, but that might have meaning for you. Here’s what I’m saying. I think the observer part of our brain is something that you might refer to as our soul or our essence or our higher self – something that is beyond just us that is connected to (again, please use whatever word resonates with you) either God or the universe or source or whatever encompasses your personal beliefs.

I truly feel that when we are using that part of our brain, it’s not just us in a self-contained bubble in the way that our thinking brain is absolutely self-contained. It is 100% within this container that we have as a human body. Because the thinking brain is very, very much a part of our human body. That’s why it behaves the way it does. This is part of why I like thinking about the observer or the watcher of our brain as being part of something bigger, part of something higher and more than ourselves, because it makes it so clear what the thinking brain is. The thinking brain is so human, just so absolutely flawed and miraculous and interesting and wild and capable, but also not part of that bigger scheme of things. In the nicest way possible, your thinking brain is so human.

It desperately wants to be efficient, which means that it’s therefore very repetitive, very automatic, very – I’m going to say – uncaring about what it thinks. It’s simply trying to do its job. It always seeks pleasure. It always avoids pain. It always responds to external stimuli in a really specific, measurable, behavioral way. The part of our brain that does all the thinking that we mostly hear, all that chatter that we hear, it’s just really, really human. It’s really in it. It’s really in the thick of all of the nonsense of, “That guy is wrong.” And, “I hate it when it rains.” “ I’m having a really rough day and what if everything goes wrong?” That part of your brain is all about humanity. It’s all about humanness. It’s all about the human part of our life.

On the other hand, the watcher and observer part of your brain is all about the bigger picture. It’s all about being able to see the forest and the trees, being able to take a big step back, being able to be so compassionate for your humanity, for your inability to think logically all the time. It takes such a compassionate view of all of those thoughts, all of that nonsense in your head, all of that junk that frankly holds us back from being our higher self, our essence, our soul. Now here’s the thing. I do truly feel that being human is the point. We are here to have a human experience for sure. However, the fact that we also have this piece of us that is –  I’m not going to say not human; it is human – that is bigger than human, that is part of something else, extra human in my opinion. I think that part of us is the place where we set goals from. It’s the place where we come from love, where we come from compassion and caring, where we come from a bigger picture.

I think that part of us as we use it more and more and more, as we develop the skill of tapping into that part of us, it helps us see our humanity for what it is. It’s illogical. It’s ridiculous. It’s funny. It’s fun. It’s . . .  I was going to say it is meaningless, but it’s not meaningless. But it’s also not as meaningful as our human brain would have us think. When you use that observer and the watcher and tap into that deeper or higher part of you, it really helps you see what your thoughts are. They’re just thoughts. They’re thoughts that are doing their job, the brain’s job of thinking repetitively, automatically based on things that we’ve seen before, things that we’ve observed before, behaviors that we have done before. Your thinking brain isn’t really doing a lot of thinking. I mean, it is. It’s got all the chatter. It’s got all the automaticity, but it’s not really thinking about itself in the way that you have the capacity to do.

The thing is, using that deeper self or higher self . . . which I think is so funny. I’m using these words and isn’t it interesting that both of those things go in different directions, but both of those things are kind of saying the same thing about getting outside of yourself – either digging way in or floating way up, whichever way you want to think about using that part of your brain. The more you use that part of your brain, the more you become a higher self, the more you become your soul or your essence. And the reason I wanted to parse this out for you is because sometimes we have really difficult thoughts – and you can use that however you want to, either like maybe really sad thoughts or really angry thoughts, or really dark thoughts, which we all have by the way, just throwing that out there. But also if it feels like more than you or your observer or watcher can handle, this is of course the part of the podcast where I’m going to suggest that you get one-on-one help with that.

But here’s what I’m saying. When we all have those kinds of thoughts, we can feel like that’s who we are. I am depressed. I am anxious. I am unhappy. We’ve talked before about how those are the two most powerful words in the entire world. “I am” is what you are creating for yourself. You can be in the watcher, observer, soul essence, higher part of your brain. What you will come to know is that you are. All the other ways you might finish that sentence are your thinking brain, your thinking brain’s automatic thoughts based on experiences, based on stuff it’s seen, based on being efficient and repetitive. That’s all. Those thoughts are not you. You are your essence, your soul, your higher being. You are the observer of this life, of these thoughts. You are pure love, pure worthiness, pure, just pure. All your thoughts are just thoughts. They’re rattling around in your head. They’re part of your human experience. They’re part of being here on earth in this package that we are, but your thoughts are not you.

When you really feel that deep in that part of you, when you feel these things that you observe in your thoughts, it really absolutely 100% changes your thoughts. It changes how you even think about your thoughts. This is actually a well-known principle. It’s called the observer principle. Usually they’ll talk about it in physics. I feel like we’ve talked about it several times. If not here on this podcast, I feel really certain that I have made this reference before to the observer principle about how the nature of being observed changes the thing that is being observed. They talk about it in physics a lot. It’s a scientific principle in a lot of different ways, but psychologically speaking – and within your own brain speaking – this is why I tell you to find your thoughts, to observe your thoughts. The act of observing them, the act of tapping into your higher self, your essence, your soul, and seeing way down below you, this humanity that you are, this package of meat with electricity running through you, it changes how much power those thoughts have over you.

And it’s in a good way. Yes, they still drive your feelings. Yes, they still drive your actions. Yes, you still get results from using your human thinking brain, but you will understand that it’s not you and your thoughts. The thing that’s coming to me, the visual image that’s coming to me, is that they’ll just calm down. Rather than being scattered and pinging . . . I’m trying to remember what experiment it was. I vividly remember doing this experiment in chemistry probably my junior year of high school. And I remember talking about how molecules move faster when they are heated up.

Why am I talking about chemistry, you guys? This is worse than me talking about math, but anyway, those of you who understand chemistry, I’m sure you could explain this better than me. But I remember observing something really specific. I mean, it was probably just as simple as water, how water boils when it’s hot and then as it cools, it calms down. This is how I think about my thinking brain. When I can come up into the upper deck of being the observer, the watcher, the soul, the essence, the higher being, when I can come up there, it’s like all my thoughts stop boiling. They’re still there. They’re still me. They’re part of me, part of my human experience, but they’re not the essence of me. I, me, myself  – am beyond that. I’m bigger than that. I’m part of something greater, whatever that is to you. Again, let me wrap this up by reminding you to take what you want out of this conversation.

Use the language that is most powerful for you personally, whether it’s a word that I said or a word that I didn’t say, if this feels right to you, use your language for you. This is something we talk about all the time on this podcast. Really specifically, I do have an entire episode called Goal Language (Ep. 008 Goal Language https://pahlabfitness.com/goal-language/) where I talk about how important it is to use the right words for yourself to feel the way you want to feel. When you think about this concept, use a word that feels empowering, that feels amazing because as you know, when you feel good, you do good things. You get good results.

My friends, like always, I hope this was helpful. I hope this podcast gave you a bigger perspective, and I hope that it helps you find your thoughts to get where you want to go. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll see you next week. 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.

Listen to the full episode here, and be sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.

Originally aired October 31, 2021
Today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast sets the foundation about how you look at your thoughts - and, in essence, your entire self.
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Meet Your Host

Mindset expert and certified life coach Pahla B knows a thing or two about changing your mind to change your weight and your life. She’s the creator of The 5-0 Method, Amazon-best selling author of the book “Mind Over Menopause,” and former yo-yo dieter who has cracked the code on lifelong weight maintenance. Join Pahla B each week for the personal insights, transformative mindset shifts, and science-backed body advice that can help you lose all the weight you want and keep it off forever.