How to Change Your Thoughts
by Steven Aitchison on November 26, 2010
What is a thought?
We first have to define what a thought is.
A thought, in its basic form, is an electrical impulse which sparks neurons firing in your brain to produce some kind of feeling within you. These impulses can be triggered by what you see, hear, taste, touch and smell; the five senses. They are also triggered by memories of what you have seen, heard, smelt, touched and tasted.
You’ll notice, if you pay close attention, that most of our thoughts are repetitive in nature, we think the same thoughts day in and day out: got to go to work, got to do this at work, what will I have for dinner, how can I make the boss happy, how can I make myself happy, why are they not like me, how can I get out of the rate race, what will they think of me, how can I make my wife happier, I can’t do that, I wished I was more like them, how can I spend more time with my family…………….
Since our thoughts are mostly repetitive, we go round in an ever-lasting circle, unless the circle gets broken.
So, if one of your repetitive thoughts are: “I am no good,” what do you think will happen? Your brain is wired to provide evidence to support the hypothesis you are repeating. If you think you are no good at math, you will find evidence to support this thought. You will remember all the times you have been in situations in which you were no good at math, you will remember all the times your father shouted at you because you were no good at maths, you will think back to the time you were laughed at because you were no good at maths. The little ‘Numskulls’ in your brain will be running around shouting ‘Quick, we have to find evidence to support his thoughts that he is no good at math’, and like an obedient dog, your brain will find lots of evidence to support your thoughts.
The wonder of you
Here’s the wonder that is you: If you reverse that original thought, and you started thinking, I am good at math. The little ‘Numskulls’ will scratch their head for a bit and say ‘Right lads, we need to find evidence that he is good at maths,’ and you’ll start to remember the time you got a question right in the math class and your teacher said ‘well done’, you remember the time your father patted you on the back and said, ‘well done son’, you remember the time your mother smiled and called you a ‘clever cookie,’ you’ll remember the time your friend was crying in frustration and you helped her with her math homework.
Here’s the other wondrous thing that will happen. Those good thoughts that you had about being good at math will enhance your motivation to be good at math, which in turn will increase your good feeling and provide you more evidence to show how good at math you are. Not only that, but that one repeating thought will go on to spark other neurons in your brain to trigger more good memories about your self worth in other areas of your life.
Can you find evidence about anything?
You might be saying to yourself at this point ‘this is ridiculous, that would mean all I need to do is pretend I am good at anything, and I’ll be good at it.’ Not true. Remember I said you have to find evidence to show you are good at something. If, for example, you said to yourself, I am good at driving, and you’d never driven a car in your life, you couldn’t possibly find any evidence to prove you were good at driving. In that instance you could take driving lessons and build up your skill, therefore acquire some skills, therefore acquire some good experiences and memories of being good at driving.
Thoughts and your reality
You’ll notice that in the above examples your thoughts of self worth come from past experiences and memories. However, your ego comes into play when attaching itself to those thoughts. If you feel sorry for yourself when you say ‘I am no good at ……..’ it is your ego that has attached itself to feeling sorry for yourself. If you can detach your ego from the statement ‘I am no good at ……………’ and you have no evidence to the contrary, then your ego has nowhere to go, in essence with that particular thought, you are merely stating a fact but you are not attaching a feeling to it. when this happens you have a choice to either do something about it or accept the fact that your priorities lie elsewhere and you are okay with not being good at………
When your ego is attached to every thought you have, and most of the time it is, your reality becomes skewed, because your reality becomes what you think about day in and day out. When you detach yourself from your thoughts, then your reality changes because you are seeing the bigger picture.
Of course it’s not easy to detach yourself from all of your thoughts without practice, but you can make a start and look at the thoughts that bring you down. If you have thoughts that make you feel miserable because you feel awkward when you are in social situations, start to look for evidence to prove to yourself that you are good in social situations. If you can’t find any evidence at all, which is unlikely, then make the statement ‘At the moment I feel awkward in social situations,’ and then decide to either do something about it or accept that this feeling is low on your list of priorities and you will come back to it later. The thing not to do is bombard yourself with thoughts of being a social misfit:
either look for evidence to the contrary or
Accept that this feeling you have is low on your list of priorities and detach yourself from any other thoughts about the subject.
When you accept and detach, there is almost a sense of relief, a feeling of a weight being lifted off your shoulders. You can now choose to think about other good things about yourself and find evidence to support those thoughts. Do this every single day of your life and your thoughts and your whole life will start to change in a dramatic way. If you are thinking ‘that sounds like hard work’, remember, you have been doing this every single day of your life up to this point, only this time you are choosing what to think about.