Years ago, we thought that our DNA defined who we were down to every last detail. We thought our DNA defined if we were shy or outgoing. If we could cope under pressure or crumble. If we took chances or we were too frightened or cautious. If we were a positive or negative person.
Luckily, we now know that all of these traits are not genetic, but learned behaviors. You can learn to become more positive, and deal with stressful situations better, cope with ‘rejection‘ and still have the guts to chase your dreams.
Largely, all these traits, all our behaviors and in fact, the entire circumstances surrounding our whole lives are determined and influenced by our thoughts.
Science tells us that we have around 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day, of which, 95% of those thoughts are unconscious thoughts, recycled from the day before, and the day before that and so on. These unconscious thoughts, program our subconscious mind which ultimately runs our lives.
You can’t consciously tell your subconscious mind to change. This has to be done by hypnosis or by repetition. So, this means, then, that the subconscious is running our lives without us even knowing it. And if you’re honest with yourself, I know you can think of scenarios in your life where this is true.
When you go for an interview, or give a talk on stage, you might repeat in your head “Don’t blow it” or “they’re not going to like you.” or “you’re going to forget what to say”. Your whole body posture changes. You hunch a little, even if only a fraction. The volume and tone of your voice is quiet and uncertain. You don’t make eye contact, look uninterested and people can’t engage and get excited for what you have to say because you’re not even excited about what you’ve got to say.
None of this happened because you aren’t good at speaking or you’re uninteresting. It happened because the thoughts in your head dictated the event in your life. Don’t believe me?
Imagine you’re with a group of friends and someone says something that makes you think of an amazing new film you watched, the new diet you’re trying and loving, or the cutest little thing your baby did the other day. You cannot wait to interrupt them and share this wonderful piece of news. You explain in detail everything you love about this thing and it doesn’t even occur to you that no one gives a crap or not. You have no problem communicating during this time.
Also, I know you’ve been there when a friend remembers something so funny that they can’t even tell the story. Every time they start to speak, they start laughing again and nearly wet them self. You, on the other hand, have no idea what the story is, but you’re hanging on so intently waiting to hear the story that your friend is trying to tell. Of course, the story is never as funny to you as it was to your friend, I guess you had to be there, but their excitement keeps you hanging on. Your thoughts tell you it’s going to be worth the wait and their thoughts, keep them doubled over with laughter but to attempt again and again to tell you the story because it’s going to be worth it.
If you don’t yet believe me that your thoughts are powerful, let’s take a look at the above example. Your friends funny story had happened at some time in the past. It is no longer happening, but their thoughts about it set off a series of neurons in their brain, conjured up some emotion and then they began reliving the scene as if it was happening again, causing very real emotions and physical effects.
Even now, nearly 3 years later, a thought may come into my head to do with my brother’s death or my grieving and then a series of neurons are set off in my brain, it remembers the emotions and I relive it as painfully as I did when it first happened. My brother hasn’t died again and again. I just remember it (or have a thought about it) again and again.
A single thought about a presentation at work, or a deadline or a due payment or even a date can cause physical symptoms like sweaty palms, shortness of breath and an increased heart rate. Just a single thought.
In some situations, it’s really beneficial to have these recurring thoughts. Like if you see fire, your brain says “don’t touch! That’s hot!” or if you get too close to a cliff, you have a thought telling you “danger! Stay back“. These thoughts are helping you to survive, like we spoke about in #1 Surviving. But what about normal every day thoughts?
What are you thinking when you lift a piece of cake to your mouth?
Or when your kids are arguing?
Or when you’re tired?
Or when you walk around your home?
Or when someone asks you on a date?
Or when you have a bill to pay?
What thoughts come to your mind about your health, your wealth, your appearance and your happiness?
Are your thoughts supporting your dreams and aspirations? Or are they sabotaging them? We’re going to learn more about this in #3………………
Think of something you’d like to be, do or have.
What thoughts or feelings come up? If you can’t think of anything, ask yourself “Why can’t I have this?” This should give you an insight to your thoughts around this topic.
Can you remember the earliest memory you have around this thought?
For example, if you want a new car, but your thoughts are something like ‘that’s wasteful and irresponsible as I already have a car. Ok, it breaks down every other week and you have to get in the passenger side as the driver’s door doesn’t open, but to buy a new car when I already have one is just wasteful.’ Can you remember the earliest time you remember feeling (or being told) you were being wasteful?
Can you, now that you’re older and wiser see a bigger picture? Can you see how other people’s opinions had shaped your belief based on their own limiting beliefs? Can you hold compassion for yourself or others for the actions surrounding that event? Can you forgive the person, or event to free yourself from holding onto it anymore?
If you’d like to better understand and filter your thoughts and beliefs, you can sign for my Journaling Workshop