My thoughts do not define my being
We think, a lot, all kinds of thoughts. And we have very few original thoughts. According to the National Science Foundation, from the average 12.000 to 60.000 thoughts a day, 90% to 95% are repetitive, and it doesn`t feel that way to most.
However, about 80% of our thoughts are negative. The number of negative thoughts is of importance but not necessarily a problem. The level of negativity of the thoughts is subjective, so is the influence of those negative thoughts on our well-being and our day-to-day life in general.
But thoughts do matter, and here comes the kicker, how much they matter depends on us and how serious we take them.
There are all kinds of thinkers, and yes Mental disorders are explaining some thought behavior, such as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), but we are not going there in this Post.
This Post does Focus solely on our tendency to take thoughts too seriously, for truth, and the possible consequences.
It is about identifying ourselves through our thoughts.
Let me say at this point that not all negative thoughts are invalid. Negative thoughts are helpful in identifying problems, especially in the search for the underlying reason for the thought, its origin.
Usually, when a negative thought appears, we judge the thought, put it in a category, and if we don`t yet have one it will be created. When we consider the thought as very negative, we will have a body and mind reaction. The body might react through heightened blood pressure; blushing; shivering, shaking and others.
If we take the thought seriously, our mind will determine the level of “negativity” and eject a string of afterthoughts.
“Oh my, how can I think that?”
“What the f*ck is wrong with me?”, or “Something is wrong with me!”
“I am such a bad person!”
“I’m mentally sick!”
“I am horrible!”
There is no end to examples, and they form the moment we identify with the thought, simply put, we believe the thought we had, give it attention and give way for all afterthoughts.
These afterthoughts can engrave deeply in our minds, especially when an emotion is attached to it. That emotion is Stress. And the Stress response will be the Anker for the thought in our mind.
And Stress can affect our lives in many ways, as I wrote in my Blog-Post “Stress”.
Thoughts are conditioned responses to outside influences. And I want to emphasize the word “conditioned”. The responses are learned.
If we watch TV to numb our thoughts, drink alcohol for the same effect or keep ourselves busy to not have to face our thoughts, it’s all the same, a learned response.
The good news is, what we can learn, we can unlearn. So we can decondition ourselves to take thoughts for granted. Isn’t that wonderful!
Contemplate this for a moment:
“we are not responsible for our thoughts, but for our responses to them”
There is a lot we can do about our negative thoughts:
Ideally we jump directly to Step 3 and 4, but usually, it does need some preparation through Step 1 and 2 before we get there.
1. Revert from a negative thought to a positive one immediately
3. Become aware of your thoughts and recognize your conditioned reaction to them
4. Acknowledge the thought, but don`t be judgmental
5. Practice, practice, practice
One of the first things you will notice after some practice is that your thoughts will not remain with you as long, though strings are less long, body reactions are less severe, stress levels will fall, contemplation of the thought is possible.
Then at some point, automatism sets in, and our mindful interaction with us and the world around us will change our well-being, outlook on life, and our thinking behavior greatly. Sure, it will not eliminate negative thoughts, but they will not bother us anymore.
This is all part of a mindful life, but mindfulness is not the answer to all questions in life, but a good start.
There are more ways to reach that point of life-altering mindfulness that may be right for you!
Come Let`s Talk about it