Often, when we are pensive, others will ask us what we are thinking about. There is a more important question: How are you thinking?
It is how we think about things that has a dramatic effect, on both us and what happens. Consider it for a moment. If you are thinking about your summer holiday, it can have a different effect on you, depending on what sort of thoughts you are having. Remembering the fun you had and feeling again the sense of relaxation and happiness will make you feel good, and ‘feed your soul’ for whatever you are doing now. Adding to that memory, thoughts like: ‘I wish I was there now instead of here’ will create some resentment and reluctance in your performance in the here and now.
Similarly, when we think about the future, if we imagine things working out, we approach them with a positive mind-set and generally manage to overcome any obstacles. However, if we are anxious or negative about them and imagine things not working out, we approach them in a way that betrays our feelings about them and often create the very story we didn’t want. On top of that, we approach what we are doing immediately with that same mind-set and often upset other apple-carts that had nothing to do with what we were thinking about!
Because we think all the time, we are often unaware of the fact that we are in control of our thoughts – we can catch ourselves and choose to think in a different way about things
If we stop the spiral of negative or anxious thinking in ourselves, we do ourselves and the world a favour. That sort of thinking creates stressful chemistry in our bodies and wears us out, physically and emotionally. And it doesn’t help us to deal with things better, it perverts and narrows our perspective and wisdom. The knock-on effect is that we deal with whatever we are doing less effectively and, with the people around us, less usefully.
On the other hand, choosing to have more useful thoughts calms our body chemistry down and reduces our stress, leading to us being more effective.
So, how do we choose to have useful thoughts? When you find yourself in that negative spiral, ask yourself some of these questions, until you find one that works:-
What different angle could I take on this?
- How would someone who wasn’t anxious or negative about this be thinking about it?
- Is how I am thinking about this helping me to deal with it and, if not, what would be more useful?
- What would distract me from thinking about this at the moment, so that I can regain some perspective?
Our thoughts are very powerful in creating our realities which means that it is worth our while to take back control of them, so that they are more useful in creating the reality we want. So have a go – don’t let them run the show!!
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