Tag Archives | thinking


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?

  1. How would someone who wasn’t anxious or negative about this be thinking about it?
  2. Is how I am thinking about this helping me to deal with it and, if not, what would be more useful?
  3. 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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Do you ever stop and think about your thoughts?

I know, that sounds strange, doesn’t it. Our thoughts just seem to happen on their own, like our breathing or walking. Yet they are actually created by us, whether we are aware of it or not.

As small children, we seem to have an inherent way of thinking which is useful: we look for the fun in things, we expect things to work out, we have another go if something doesn’t work out the first time round without seeing it as failure, and we are creative and imaginative in our approach to life. Then we learn the ‘normal’ way of thinking, through the influence of those around us: to fear new things, to doubt our own ability, to judge and criticise others, and ourselves and so on.

In Meta, we call these learnt thoughts the inner commentator. We believe that we collect these types of thoughts as children, because we want to be looked after and approved of, to fit in. So although they aren’t our natural way of thinking, we adopt them, because they lead us to behave in ways that fit with the norm, and not challenge the world we live in.

However, when we are grown up, we have the right to check out whether this way of thinking is still useful to us. Notice that we use the word ‘useful’. This not whether it is right or wrong, just whether it makes our life easier or harder, more enjoyable or less enjoyable.

Our thoughts are not just thoughts – they lead directly to expectations and specific behaviour. So they are a very powerful driver for how we live our lives. We say things like: ‘I thought this would be a difficult meeting’, and can be surprised by how often our thoughts are self-fulfilling prophesies, yet the fact is that the thought leads us to expect the meeting to be difficult, and we then unconsciously give off all the non-verbal messages that that is what we expect, and look for the evidence that we are right – we actively make it happen without realising it. No wonder we are so good at self-fulfilling prophecies!!

There is now a considerable amount of research, which backs this up. (For more detail, see ‘It’s the Thought that Counts’ by Dr. David Hamilton). Our thoughts affect how we are physically, mentally and emotionally, and create our experience of life. They are the differentiating factor that causes two people to go through the same event yet have two totally different experiences of it.

And the research shows that thinking usefully actually improves our health and longevity, because our own less than useful thoughts cause stress on our immune system and damage our health, whereas useful thoughts and a more positive experience of life causes us to release more health-giving hormones.

So, once in a while, when life seems hard, stop and notice your thoughts. Could you have a more useful thought about what’s going on? Is this person being awkward or are they having a bad day? Is this work boring or easy to do without much effort? Are you fed up or wondering what would make you feel better about things?

We have a wondrous tool for making our own lives easier, and we do have control over it – we can choose how we think about things. They are your thoughts; choose to make them useful to you!!

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