Our thoughts are, for the record, our own. They are like a mysterious puff of smoke here one moment and gone the next. They are silent, only coming into the world if we choose to share that part of ourselves with another.
- Are your thoughts determining the direction of your life?
- What are they and where do they come from?
- What are the pitfalls of your thought life?
How Important are They?
Your thoughts are probably the most influential component of your life because they occur 24/7. Changing them will change your life. Strengthening them will strengthen you. Ignoring them is tantamount to closing your eyes while driving. Your thoughts will determine how much you get done today. Your thoughts will determine how much you accomplish in your life. Your thoughts are the key to your happiness, success, and freedom, yet you may not know how to capture them, tame them, and use them for your benefit and for the benefit of others.
Thoughts seem to happen without your approval. Like a wild child wreaking havoc in his home as he is left unattended, thoughts can destroy the order of your life, mess up what you have created, and distract you from being productive. You are, however, the adult of your own mind and those wild thoughts can be brought under control.
Where do thoughts come from?
Each one of us has our own unique thoughts. They come from our experiences, fears, hopes and dreams. Comments others have made may also create a thought in your mind. Your emotions play a part in what your thoughts become. Where do your thoughts come from? Are they from the past but determining the future? Are they from fear and winning over hope? Consider the origin of your thoughts and challenge the truth about how they are directing your life.
What is the content of your thoughts?
If you could see a transcript of every thought you had during a day it would reveal your tendency toward the positive or negative and whether you think backward or forwards. Would this be embarrassing? Would you like to know what that transcript said? Pay attention to your thoughts, write them down, and examine their content.
. . . when we hone the ability to take note of and understand what we are thinking and why — a practice that New Age author Eckhart Tolle calls,'observing the thinker' — we begin to realize that our thoughts about others provide us with a perfect reflection of how we feel about ourselves.
Thoughts are positive, negative, and everything in between. What are your thoughts and what patterns do you employ?
- Thoughts can be random, like popcorn bursting from the bottom of a pan with hot oil. This happens when you allow them to populate your mind without discipline.
- Thoughts can be structured as you apply honesty or logic to a problem. Intentional thought means asking yourself honest questions and answering them without being emotionally derailed or distracted.
- Thoughts can be slowed by breathing and meditation. These are effective techniques when your thoughts are causing you to be anxious.
- Thoughts can be stuck on repeat, playing the same tune over and over, . . . if you allow it. Your thoughts are your own and it is up to you how long to entertain them.
- Thoughts can ruminate on the past or speculate into the future. If these patterns are helpful in making a decision, use them. Staying in the present moment, however, is the most effective and important place to be. This is the principle of ‘mindfulness’.
One of the dangers of our thoughts is that they are silent. No one can tell you if your thoughts are negative, destructive, or truthful if they remain in your mind without being exposed. It is important to share your thoughts with someone you trust to get perspective. Then you can decide whether to keep those thoughts, store them for later or eliminate them.
Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny. -- Chinese proverb, author unknown
It is said that 70% to 80% of our thoughts are negative. You can reduce the number and intensity of negative thoughts. A negative thought is anything that makes you feel bad, sad, ugly, worthless, insecure, weak, fearful, alone, angry, guilty, unlovable, anxious, depressed or stressed out. Negative thinking as a bad habit, nothing more. You can reduce negative thoughts by recognizing them and replacing them with more positive, empowering, and truthful thoughts.
Over thinking things is not a good idea. Like a needle stuck on a record, the over thinker will be in one place, unable to move forward. 'What if’ thinking lends itself to paralysis by analysis (what if this? or what if that?). It's an unhealthy way to process information. The fear of being wrong can also trap you in a place where you continue to examine options without action. It's important to ask yourself, ‘what will happen if I am wrong? Will the sky fall, the earth blow up or my family disown me?’ Really?
My friend and sports psychologist Cindra Kamphoff discusses over thinking and offers suggestions to stop it.