“Thought is not reality; yet it is through thoughts that our realities are created.” – Sydney Banks
Your thoughts are a big deal, and yet, they’re not. What do I mean by that? Most of our thoughts aren’t even real, yet they can create pain, sadness, anger, excitement, happiness, motivation etc. You can run a marathon with your thoughts and be mentally exhausted, yet in reality, you sat in a chair for 10 minutes just thinking. It’s crazy how thought can dictate so much of our day to day, and yet, they’re technically not even real.
Here’s an example of thought in action.
You’re getting groceries and there’s a huge line for check out.
Thought Pattern 1: You start thinking thoughts of being annoyed: why is the cashier so slow? This sucks! Why did everyone decide to go to the store tonight! I’m tired! I have a million things to do! Finallllly it’s your turn. Jeez!
Thought Pattern 2: You see the line and think: okay, i’m not going to lose my cool. It’s all good. Shit happens. I’ll just stand in line. I’m so proud of myself for not loosing my cool! 5 more people to go!
Thought Pattern 3: You see the big line and get in line. You decide to accept the line for what it is – it’s not good or bad, it is what it is. You decide to people watch while in line. You realize you forgot to text someone back, so you reply to some messages you missed. You look up, it’s your turn.
Notice the only thing that changed in the three situations was thought. In reality, you just stood in a line. How is it that scenario 1 consists of an emotional roller coaster filled with frustration, while in the second scenario you are calming yourself down, and in the third scenario you’re just accepting reality. Are your thoughts real? Did they make the line move any slower or faster? The most real thing that happened in this whole process was the steps your body took and the time that passed until it was your turn.
So, if thought isn’t real, what’s the point of it?
Here’s the thing, you get to decide what thoughts you want to accept in your mind, no matter how many thoughts come flooding into your head. Think of it like you are the bouncer of your own mind. It doesn’t matter if you had a thought of annoyance or frustration, it’s whether you let it hang out in the night club that is your mind. My personal night club rule: Good Vibes Only. Do bad vibes seep in? Yeah, but as soon as I recognize they aren’t serving me, out the door they go! Understanding this about your thoughts is powerful stuff. How many of us have judged ourselves for negative thoughts or feelings we had because we felt the thought defined us? Your thoughts are not you. They are a thing that happens.
Fuel Your Thoughts Wisely
I once read that if you are mad at someone, just remember it’s a thought that you are mad at them. The more you keep fueling that thought, the angrier you get. What’s even more interesting? You can choose not to fuel that thought. You can bring awareness to the fact that you are having feelings bubble up and simply say to yourself, “no thanks, i’m not going down that path”. How empowering is it to know you don’t have to fuel thoughts that don’t serve you? How much mental energy do we waste on thoughts of being annoyed or angry at someone, when in the end, they don’t even do anything. Well, I guess they cloud your judgement on how to approach the person and have a conversation with them, but is it wise to go a conversation with 20 negative thoughts about this person to resolve a conflict? Sounds like it won’t end well.
Once your mental energy is freed up by not going down an exhausting thought pattern of anger, you can see your predicament from a clearer space. Instead of coming in with ammo about all the ways this person has wronged you, you can instead ask this person for what you need from them, which not only puts their guard down, but avoids further miscommunication and hurt feelings. How healthy is it to say, “hey, I need you to be on time when we meet up” or “I need to you respect me and accept me for who I am” versus “you’re always late, you don’t care about me, you’re selfish!”. Not only does this make you a badass for asking for what you need, but it helps the other person understand what you are asking for. Now that’s a powerful way to solve a conflict, and all it took was stopping a thought pattern that would lead you to feel like a victim.
I remember being irritated when someone cut me off in traffic. My mind started calling them names and throwing out swear words. Then, I caught myself: awareness. I made a decision that I would not keep going down that line of thought: pivoting. Instead, I put on a song and jammed to it. My ego wanted to be mad at that person and prove that i’m worthy. How dare someone cut me off!? What a bad driver! I hope they get a ticket! However, my conscious self was driving in a car and I was safe, and that’s all that mattered. Let’s face it, having a sing a long in a car is way more fun than thinking negative thoughts about some random person. How healthy is this for your mind, body and soul? Yet, see how simple it is? All it required was awareness and a pivot.
You are not your thoughts. Your thoughts of fear, jealousy, envy, anger, frustration… those are not you. Those are thoughts that came up in your mind, but they are not you nor do they define you. They can become you if you start to embody them. That’s where awareness and pivoting comes to the rescue. You’re allowed to dismiss thoughts that don’t serve you.
Now that you know each thought that enters your mind isn’t you, what does this change for you? Do you judge yourself less? Do you take more chances? Do you realize those thoughts of fear are just made up? Does it feel empowering to know you don’t have to ride the emotional roller coaster when you’re in a difficult situation. The situation might be real, but your reaction to it is all up to you. Do you accept the long line as it is or will you embody emotions and judgements on the long grocery line?
The Mind On Autopilot
Our minds are interesting things, it’s like they have a life of their own. If you let your mind live on autopilot, it thinks whatever it is conditioned to think. Think of the influences that seep into your mind: media, society, family, friends, crappy strangers etc. Your mind soaks in information from these sources in conscious and unconscious ways. For example, if you were abused or bullied growing up, your mental chatter can take on a persona of low self-esteem, which puts a blanket of negative thought on even the most benign situations. Once you wake up to the reality that your chatter has a negative cloud over it, you can be more cautious of what’s allowed in. If I am walking down the street and a group of people are laughing, my low self-esteem thought says “they’re laughing at me.” However, my awareness says, that’s the low self-esteem talking and my pivot no longer feeds the thought. And guess what? Even if they are laughing at you, the reality you create with your thoughts is the reality that is real for you – so I decide they are not laughing at me.
Fear is another emotion, thought and feeling that pops up for a lot of us. How many of us have random fears? It can be a fear or starting a business, going on a date, confronting someone, fear of the future, fear of losing our loved ones… yet, fear is just a thought. Nothing happened in real life. These fear-based thoughts just live in your head and take you on a roller coaster of emotions. I remember one of my friends had a freak out over five “what if” scenarios he made up in his mind. I brought him back to reality. I said, “your mind travelled to these crazy scenarios, yet you’re sitting here on your couch talking to me. In reality, not one of these things has even happened, why are you making yourself suffer?” He’s welcome to do some fear-setting and plan out these situations, but he needs to come at it from logic, not fear. Who has ever made a good decision with fear and scarcity in mind? I told him, “You can also just see how the situation plays out and then decide what course of action to take. When we’re in the now we can feel out the situation better.” Funny enough, none of the fear scenarios even played out for him. Everything was fine. He suffered for no reason. Even if a fear scenario played out, why suffer twice? Let your highest self take over and handle the situation when it comes up. The fear based self if going to do a crappy job anyway.
What if you were able to recognize when a fear-based thought has entered your mind? Once you know it’s not even real, would you let it hang out in your mind? How different would your life look if you didn’t have thoughts of fear?
Remember, thoughts are not the truth, especially the ones that don’t serve you. I think random weird thoughts all the time and I have to check-in with myself and say “wow, where did that come from” and swat it away like a fly. I don’t spend another minute dwelling on it because I have that awareness. I’m not perfect at catching these thoughts all the time, but as soon as I click in, I say “byeeee!” and high-five myself (sometimes mentally and sometimes physically). This awareness of dismissing thoughts took a lot of practice, but it’s so powerful once you get the hang of it.
If I don’t listen to the chatter, how do I function?
Want to know what else is pretty cool? The opposite of being in your head and succumbing to the mental chatter is being in the here and now, which my friends, is a pretty cool place to be. Being in the here and now is you existing as a human on earth having a human experience. It’s pretty simple if you think about it, yet it can feel so hard. This is why practices like meditation are so powerful, they help practice quieting the chatter and function from an intuitive level.
How beautiful is it to know you’re a conscious being filled with love and light. Your highest and truest self is through the clouds of chatter. You get to be here in now and experience whatever you are experiencing. This feels so powerful and magical, especially once you get out of your head. Stop dwelling on the past, stop being anxious about the future, and stop judging everything that happens to you. Just exist and understand you are going through a human experience. Your inner intelligence will take over, you just have to trust that it will.
A lot of us think the answers are somewhere outside of us, but they are not. It’s simpler than that. They are within in. Your bliss is inside you. Your gratitude is inside you. The freest and safest version of yourself is the one that is in the present moment. The person sitting on their couch is safe, but the person sitting on their couch and thinking a hundred thoughts doesn’t feel safe. I sometimes picture thoughts as grey clouds and the blue sky above the clouds as your truest self. We all know above the clouds, there’s always blue sky. One of my friends pictured Neo and Trinity flying through the clouds in the Matrix Resurrection – heck yeah!
Exercise: Set a time for 5 minutes. I want you to connect with your conscious being. Close your eyes or keep them open (whatever way is easier to focus) and create a connection with your intuition. For some, their intuition is their gut or womb, but it can be any place in your body you like to tap into. Picture a blue glowing light sitting in this area. Feel it. See it. Connect with it. Welcome it. Hold it like you would hold a small child that needs comfort. Embrace it. Accept it. Love it. Say thank to it.
This is the real you. It’s the power that’s inside you. Whenever you have questions, tap into this blue glowing light and see what answers it has for you. This is your higher self – the self that’s free from ego and any past conditioning. This part of you needs love and nourishment to shine. This part of you provides guidance and wisdom.
Practice: Catch yourself and pivot.
Next time you get upset with a friend, family member, spouse etc., I want you to catch the negative thoughts coming in. Don’t judge them. They can come and go as they please, but you will choose not to let them stay. Say, “no thanks”. Bring awareness to the fact that this is chatter and that you are not going to fuel it by thinking more thoughts about it. Give yourself space and time to process. What clarity do you get once you decide not to go down the negative thought pattern? Once the ego is out of the picture, do you feel you can have a better conversation with this person? How would the conversation look differently from if you went into it with a bunch of negative thoughts?
Want to read more about the power of thought? Check out The Invisible Power by Dr. Ken Manning. This book goes deeper into what I talked about in this post.
Until next time,
ps. If you ever need help pivoting, Ross Gellar is a great reminder.