I see many people in my practice who struggle to turn their mind. This is the primary need in choosing your perspective. You have to have the skill of being able to look at what is going on, separate what is happening from your past experience lenses, and be able to find something good about it. Even if 99.9% sucks you have to be able and ready to find something that does not suck in your current situation. This is a very difficult skill and requires that we accept what is going on in our lives even if we do not like it.
What you think about your experience is more important than the experience itself. In reality it is just what is happening right now. This is the neutral place of “it just is ____”. We then put our judgment upon it. We label the experience as “good”, “bad”, “I like”, “I don’t like”, “I want”, “I don’t want”, “should”, “should not” etc. When we place these labels on our experiences we are expressing our values. Our values help us decide what to do and how to engage with our environment by limiting our choices. This is actually helpful, as there are so many choices in any given moment, but it can make it hard for us to feel fulfilled and engaged in our current experiences.
When we place so much emphasis on what we should do, how it should go, what we want, and turn our noses up at what we do not like, we are living our experiences based on judgments that color what we are actually experiencing. This keeps us locked in our heads and stuck in stories that may or may not be serving us anymore. We end up living from expectations rather than reality. When we can pick apart the experience for what it truly is, look at it honestly, and be open to what is to be learned from it, we find the beauty that surrounds us.
Our thoughts have power. They shape what we focus on, where our attention goes, and what we continue to find in the world. As we discussed last week, when I find myself living in the same experiences I am often narrowing my focus and putting my attention on similar sorts of experiences and opportunities. It is what I know, therefore it continues to be what I find. Over and over and over again. Many times we do not even realize this is the case. We have no idea how powerful our thoughts are and how much they shape our experiences in the world – it is just what we have always experienced or always seen or always seem to run into. When you take control of your thinking patterns you can significantly shift your experience in the world and create the experiences you want to have.
Part of the power of our thoughts is the chemical nature of them. For every thought you have, you create a chemical – electrical pattern in your physical structure. Your neurons function using electricity and chemistry to communicate across the synapse and travel through your neuromuscular junctions to make movements happen. The more you use a neuron pattern the closer those neurons move toward each other. As they do this they become much quicker in communication ability. For example:
I speak English as my 1st language. As a result I know a lot of English words, I have understanding of the language that I do not even know I know. It is just what I have always known to be true about communicating with people around me. I can understand elements of English communication through the nuances, inferences, and structure of the current communication patterns, inflections and presentation of the person communicating to me. I have very strong neural connections for the English language and specifically upper-midwestern United States of America English.
If you have ever learned another language you also know what I am talking about – it is chunky and often slow to understand the words in normal conversation in another country/language. Once you spend enough time with the new language or learning the new style of speaking, it becomes easier to understand the nuances and patterns of speech. That is your neurology shifting and creating new or closer connections, thus becoming bilingual. People who grew up speaking 2 languages can often switch between them very quickly. They have strong neural networks for both.
Now apply this concept to negative thinking patterns. If you are someone who spends a lot of time thinking negatively about yourself or others, situations or spaces, patterns people behave in, etc, you are creating strong neural pathways to find more of those examples … because your brain is wired to find them easy.
You participate in them everyday (often multiple times a day) and your mind uses those thinking patterns to protect you from something given the amount of time you spend on them. Mind and brain work together to make sure you find them all around your environment. They are important for some reason or you would not be thinking of them so often. This is the reasoning your mind feels it is necessary to catalogue and find them all around you. This is not meant to shame you for your responsibility in your current state. As I said above there is a reason you continually think in negative directions. Therapy can be a big help getting to the root of your behavior and help you figure out what you are using negative self talk, judgment, and overall pessimism for. You are doing it for a reason, now might be the time to figure out why.
Imagine what would happen if you started focusing on what is working, rather than what is not working? If I am right about how important it is to pay attention on purpose, imagine how your life would shift if you were purposefully looking for and finding all the things going right in your life. Are you ready to take a positive focus in your life? Ready to live on purpose? Ready to shift into letting go of expectations and truly living in this moment of your life?
Start taking control of your thoughts right now. I know it is easier said than done. Here’s an activity to get you started.
Today try this activity – FIND BLUE CARS.
See how many you find around you. Comment your number on our Facebook group. For this activity do not change your routine or go out of your way to find a lot. Just notice how many you run into during your regular day doing the same things you do in your normal routine. Notice and count how many you find around you today.