Who Controls Your Thoughts?
We are always thinking. The conscious mind never shuts up during the time it’s awake. So the big question is, “Do you control your thoughts or do they control you? Who Controls your thoughts?
Who controls your thoughts?
You are invited out to dinner next week with a group of well-known people in your community most of whom you have not met but know about through the news media. Of course, you readily accept. You check out a couple of them on the Internet, learning about their education and their professional and personal accomplishments so you can relate to them in conversation. Initially, you are excited about it and then your thoughts begin to ramble.
Ideas begin to creep in, ideas such as:
- What can I possibly wear that will look good enough? I’d better get something new.
- Will they like me?
- What if I can’t carry on my part of the conversation?
- Maybe they will realize that I’m not on their level?
- What if I embarrass myself?
- I shouldn’t have accepted.
- IWhat if I don’t fit in?
- I don’t think I can do this.
- They will see how out of place I really am.
- I don’t want to make a fool of myself.
- …and so on.
Notice how your thoughts have changed from questions to statements. The day of the dinner, you decide you don’t feel well and you call in your regrets to the person who invited you. This is a little extreme but the scenario is played out frequently in any number of situations—perhaps consciously, perhaps not.Had you focused on the positive outcomes of the situation you could have attended, enjoyed the dinner and ended up with new acquaintances and possibly new friends who could enrich your life.
Let’s look at some other similar scenarios:
You are studying for an advanced degree and have an important exam to take. Your fear is that you will freeze and your mind will draw a blank at each question. You begin to doubt your mastery of the material and, even though you have spent hours in preparation your thoughts have declared you a failure before you even start the test. In fact, you have set yourself up for failure in a situation that you could ordinarily handle with ease.
You are asked to give some serious consideration to writing a book or a series of articles. You ask a couple of friends what they think and you get both positive and negative feedback. By the time you need to make a decision and give your response, the negative input has won and you say, “Thanks, but the answer is no.” Perhaps you would have written a best seller but you’ll never know.
Another scenario or two
You visit an online dating site and receive a number of responses. As you consider each one you decide that none of them work for you. You do this, not because you have good information that lets you know they are not a good match for you, but because your thoughts led you to believe they wouldn’t like you. What have you missed by that assumption?
You didn’t sleep well last night or the night before so today your thoughts dwell on the possibility that you won’t sleep again tonight. You have set yourself up not to sleep and, no surprise, you have another restless night. There are steps you can take to make a good night’s sleep a possibility and one of them is to manage your thoughts.
You are told that the boss wants to see you first thing in the morning. You spend the evening and night worrying that he has a negative review to give you, or you are going to get a change in your job, or that you may be getting laid off or fired. By the time of the meeting, you have worked yourself into a frenzy with your negative thinking. The fact is that the boss called you in to tell you are getting a promotion accompanied by a raise. You go in tired and with a negative attitude based simply on your own negative thoughts.
Think about your own thoughts
Think about your own thoughts. Where do they lead you? Do you let them help you soar to new heights? Or do you allow them to control your mind, your attitudes, your emotions, your desires, your decisions in a negative way? Do you allow your thoughts to sabotage you and keep you from taking necessary risks and therefore from enjoying some remarkable success? I’m not talking about situations in which “no” is the best answer or recognizing that a situation truly is not the best for you. I’m talking about allowing your thoughts to take over and influence a decision in an unfortunate and unfavorable way
If the answer is “yes” what can you do about it? While this is probably not new information but simply a reminder, there are several things you can do.
Things you can do
- Become aware of your thinking—serve as your own “thought monitor.” When you notice a trend toward the negative, take control. Watch for patterns. Awareness is key.
- When you don’t have all your facts, gather information that allows you to make intelligent, informed decisions. This will help you avoid jumping to false conclusions based on negative input from your own thoughts.
- Develop a pattern of positive thinking.
a. Write positive affirmations that are realistic for you and use them on a regular basis.
b. Develop a habit of journaling on a daily basis about those things you appreciate, are grateful for and that give you joy. For example, write down 5 things daily that you are grateful for or that you appreciate. It doesn’t need to be a long, time-consuming exercise. This starts or ends your day on an upbeat note.
c. Look for the possible positive outcomes from negative experiences. What did you learn?
- Become more aware of your own strengths, ideas and beliefs.
Remember that thoughts are things and they create. Can you name one thing in existence that didn’t start out as a thought? Me neither.
In his book, As a Man Thinketh, James Allen states, “All that you accomplish or fail to accomplish with your life is the direct result of your thoughts.”
Do your thoughts create joy in your life or do they create suffering?
Who controls your thoughts?