Decades ago, I was sitting on bus nr. 9 weaving its way through the bustling London traffic, just at the beginning of my corporate career, I thought to myself, why are some people happy and living their dream lives, whilst others seem unhappy and suffer? I could gather that it was not as simple as being wealthy or poor but that there is some other dynamic that determines our emotional wellbeing. In that moment it was as if my search was set on fire, but not a lot happened, other than me devouring self-help books as they started to appear in the bookshops.
How did I discover an interest in how my thoughts may have something to do with the way I live my life?
Not a lot happened until many years later. I was on a flight from Hong Kong to Kota Kinabalu (Borneo), a stranger gave me a book The Power of Now. By then I was deeply enmeshed in my luxury hospitality career. Thus far I identified with my thoughts. Learning that I am not my thoughts was jaw-dropping and exciting. I went into a deep inner quest.
Today, further along on my journey I would like to touch on three distinct topics to understand our thoughts.
Most people do not give much thought to their thoughts (count yourself privileged to be reading this article!), whereas they have such an impact on our lives, pretty much dictating how we live. Mostly, we just let them run amok and wreak havoc!
The power our thoughts hold over us
Everything starts with a thought. A thought, in turn, creates an emotion.
Let us look at an example: I am overweight (thought). I feel inadequate (emotion) and hopeless (emotion).
We don’t think like this. It is mostly an unconscious process. We go through our daily lives on autopilot, meaning we are not aware of what we think, not even when we sink deep into the emotion. We let our thought run free and end up feeling hurt by the accompanying emotions. Somebody once said to me (originally from Albert Einstein) insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The same applies to our thoughts.
The power our emotions hold over us
Emotions are simply your body’s reaction to what you are thinking, whether you’re aware of it or not. Your belief system and other unconscious thoughts are happening on autopilot all the time, and cause emotions.
How we bring our past into the future
The past only exists in our minds, yet we bring it into the present more often than we are aware of. We often say, “he said”, “she did”, “he did”, “she did” and so on. Do notice “said” or “did” are verbs in past tense. It happened in the past. Do you see how we let the past perpetuate and pester us? Could we perhaps leave the past in the past?
Unknowingly we create our future based on the past whereas we long for a different kind of future.
So, let us narrow this down:
– We realise that we are not happy or fulfilled with what went down in the past and yet we continue with the same thought patterns.
– We want something different to before but completely fill our perception of the present with what happened in the past.
Solution: We can decide to become aware and to act not to bring the past into the present. We want to learn to become aware. Awareness creates choice.
And one more thing JUDGEMENT
We are “human machines of judgements”. So many things that we think are based on judgments, about ourselves (I am not good enough) or others (“I don’t like his hairstyle”) and it can get so trivial.
Busy putting labels on others and on ourselves, what are we missing out on? What are we thinking?
The unhindered (often insane) inner voice constantly makes up stuff and we are acting on it, that’s pretty much being insane.
How our thoughts affect those around us too
People around you will pick up on your thoughts too, whether consciously or subconsciously. Your thoughts don’t only create your life experience but affect others too.
How is that?
Your thoughts are like energetic waves and they reach far beyond you. I am sure you have experienced feeling “low”, perhaps even upset for no apparent reason, when speaking to somebody. Or even if you enter into a conversation feeling cheerful, you may exit it feeling sad or depressed. And the negativity may multiply as another asks, “are you ok?” especially if this is what you are asking yourself, feeling unable to pinpoint what, exactly, is wrong. Everything is energy and we are energetic beings.
So, not only do our (negative) thoughts impact our lives but also the lives of others.
The good news?
There is a way out of it all. You can make friends with your thoughts and you can use them as steppingstones for being present.
How to make best friends with your thoughts
There is a lot happening right now (we only need to watch the news) and we are easily drawn into emotional chaos.
When you become more aware of what you think you will be better able to withstand the chaos (fear) and to become a healing force instead of one making things worse. Through deciding to remain in thoughts of love and compassion – towards yourself and others – you can actually transform chaos (fear) into love. Becoming a transmitter of loving thoughts, how about that? By considering this as an option, you have opened yourself to a new thought pattern.
What else can you do, practically?
- Reduce social media or other form of news intake, at least the kind that tends to engage your mind in negative thinking.
- Connect to your breath. The moment you feel an unwelcome thought connect your awareness to your breath and breathe deeply three times (or more). Follow your breath with your awareness; follow the movement of your inhale and exhale, observe it. This way you have immediately distracted yourself from the thinking mind. Try it out. Observe how you are feeling afterwards.
- Make a physical movement, literally removing the unwanted thought just as you would a physical object. For example, you can open your hands in front of you with your palms facing upwards, mentally placing your thought in your slightly cupped hands to let the thought and the energy of it leave you, or you can swat it away vigorously.
- Engage with an activity. You may start reading your favorite book, connect with your hobby, do some physical exercises all that will help you to take your mind off the thought.
- Be prepared. Thoughts are repetitive. Notice the themes of your various thoughts. What comes up over and over again? When you begin to notice these thoughts revert immediately to what works best for you.
- And remember: Forgive yourself when you feel that you are failing. This too is only a thought.
If you are interested in learning how to transform your thoughts to live a more fulfilled life:
Join me on a special 5 weeks Mental & Emotional Detox workshop in collaboration with Wellbeing At Home. Take advantage of a 35% discount by using the code EMO40 upon check-out.
Don’t believe everything your mind tells you!
With love from my heart to your heart,