You may be questioning what a soundtrack is or why I believe it can change your life but hear me out.
Let’s first start with what a soundtrack is. Think about that song that gets stuck in your head over and over and you can’t quite get it to leave. That’s what happens with our thoughts too. We think something and then it gets ingrained in our brains and it becomes a soundtrack that’s on repeat and becomes part of our personal playlist.
Soundtracks can be negative or positive. They could sound like “I’m no good at math” or “I believe things are always working out for me”. When we allow negative soundtracks to live rent free inside our heads, they impact our beliefs which impact our actions which impact our results.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s pretend a soundtrack that you’ve allowed in your head is “I’m not a good public speaker”. Maybe someone told you this when you were in school giving a speech about a president, or maybe a colleague poked fun at you after a team meeting. Now, because that soundtrack is in your head, when your boss or a friend ask you to speak in front of a group of people, you shy away. Maybe you politely decline or say you have a scheduling conflict, or maybe you just tell that person you’re not a good public speaker. Because of this, you’ve now missed out on more than just one opportunity. You’ve likely missed out on the chance to practice public speaking by doing it and getting better, you’ve missed out on an opportunity to share your message or ideas with others, you’ve missed out on an opportunity to help out a friend or teammate, and you’ve also likely missed out on that person asking you to speak to a group again.
This is what happens when we allow our negative soundtracks to take up a space where they don’t belong. They dictate our thoughts, which dictate our actions, which impact our results. Negative soundtracks limit our possibilities and our lives.
In the book, Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff, he shares that in order to change our soundtracks, we need to do three things.
- Identify the negative soundtracks
- Replace them with positive ones
- Replay the new soundtracks until they’ve stuck
Step 1: Identify the Negative Soundtracks
So how do you identify your negative soundtracks?
There’s a few ways, but it requires thinking about what we think about. When a soundtrack bubbles to the surface, we should examine it by asking three questions.
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it helpful?
Did you know that just because we have a thought does not mean it’s true?
Read that again. Just because we have a thought does not mean it’s true. Wild, right? We often think that our thoughts are true, but that’s not always the case. That’s why filtering them is so important.
What do I mean? Well earlier you thought you were a poor public speaker. How do you know that’s true? Because one person said it? Because you stumbled over your words in the past? What if since that presentation on a president, you’ve gotten enough practice that you are actually clear with your thoughts and do a stellar job engaging with a crowd? What if the times people have complimented you on your speaking, they were actually being honest and weren’t just trying to make you feel better? What if that one time you stumbled over your words was just an outlier? What if you are a far greater speaker than you’ve let yourself believe?
This is why examining our soundtracks is so important.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Let’s look at another one. Let’s say in this scenario that your soundtrack is, “I mess things up.” Maybe there have been a few occasions that something hasn’t gone according to plan. Let’s just pretend that this soundtrack is true. But then let’s put it through those other filters. Is it kind? No, not at all. Is it helpful? Nope to that one too. Sometimes a soundtrack can be true, but it may not be kind or helpful. By using these filters, you can start to examine your thoughts and then figure out how to replace the negative soundtracks with positive ones.
Tip: Look for absolute language in your soundtracks. If you say you “always” or “never” something – it’s probably untrue. Because we are not usually always doing something or never doing something else.
Step 2: Replace The Negative Soundtrack with a Positive Soundtrack
So how do you replace a soundtrack? Often, you can just say the inverse and that can be a helpful starting place. Before a job interview, instead of saying “I’m nervous”, you could say “I’m excited”. Before a final, rather than saying “I’m no good at tests” you could try “I approach tests with confidence”. Instead of “I’m bad at math” you could say something like “I’m getting better at math each day”. You can tweak the wording until it’s something that works for you.
“Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thoughts” – Craig Groeschel in Winning the War in Your Mind
I’m sure you want your life to move in a positive direction. By taking hold of your negative soundtracks and replacing them with positive ones, you can move your life in the direction you desire.
Step 3: Put the New Soundtrack on Repeat
Once you identify your negative soundtracks and replace them, you have to put them on repeat. This may mean writing them in a journal or at the top of your calendar. It could look like saying them aloud in the morning. Or repeating them before an event or meeting. The more you play them in your brain, the more ingrained they will become, and over time, the more regular they will be in your thoughts.
Remember when I said soundtracks can change your life – well they really can. If our lives move in the direction of our strongest thoughts, and now we have a framework for how to turn our negative soundtracks into positive ones, we can literally change the trajectory of our lives.
There’s been a variety of quotes in here from an author, to a bible verse, to a pastor, and last but not least, from a rapper. Enjoy.
The point I’m makin’ is the mind is a powerful place
And what you feed it can affect you in a powerful way
It’s pretty cool, right? Yeah, but it’s not always safe
Just hang with me, this’ll only take a moment, okay?
Just think about it for a second, if you look at your face
Every day when you get up and think you’ll never be great
You’ll never be great—not because you’re not, but the hate
Will always find a way to cut you up and murder your faith, woo
from “The Search” by NF