Welcome to another exciting blog post!
So I am writing (typing?) this early in the morning because I am awake and my mind is rolling with thoughts that seem a bit out of control. This constant blah blah blah that happens to me can often get me into trouble. I’ve lost track of time or it happens when I am driving. It drives me nuts when this chatter happens, then I get introduced to someone and because I was thinking I have no clue what their name is. Great. Just great.
Our thoughts can be more than just a distraction. Our thoughts are actually the things that are causing most of the problems in our lives. I know that most of you really don’t want to hear this, but the things that are happening around you generally are not the problem, it’s you and your gosh darned thoughts.
Let’s get an example in here. Take that relative that pisses you off at every family gathering. Why does he anger you? Generally its a difference in opinion (or manners. Like seriously, who eats like that?!). So now that I got you thinking about this person, how do you feel? Not so happy, right? The crazy thing is that you just became angry or stressed over a thought. Nothing has actually changed in this moment, just your thoughts. This happens over and over all day long. Your thoughts change so your emotions change, even if nothing has actually changed at all.
Are you still with me here? I hope so, ’cause this shift is important. Your thoughts have power over you if you leave your them on autopilot. You don’t have to control your thoughts, you just don’t want them to control you. Recognizing that thoughts are just thoughts, and not truths, can change everything. Often our thoughts are wrong and listening to them is what causes the most harm. My feelings get hurt because I didn’t get a response to my text. I get mad because someone had a sarcastic tone when talking to me about something I take seriously. I get frustrated when my kid won’t stop touching the computer while I’m typing. Yes, he’s awake now, too.
I wonder if you are seeing this. Things are happening or not happening all the time, but the only thing that is regulating how we feel are our thoughts, and thoughts are not even real. Just words that play around in our heads until we believe them. Then we believe these thoughts that make us mad, or sad, and defend them as facts. This is the craziest part. We defend these thoughts that make us unhappy. We tell people about them as though they are truths, and the unhappiness spreads.
So, what do we do about this? First I want you to pay attention to how you are feeling. How you are feeling can easily tell you what you are thinking. Anxiety and stress often means that you are thinking about the future, which you are not in control of. Sorrow, anger, regret and retaliation mean that you are thinking about the past, which you cannot change. Feelings of contentedness, acceptance, peace, and happiness means you are in the moment, which is the only place you have any control at all. You get to choose how you feel by what you are focused on.
Now, I know some people will get angry at themselves for the thoughts that they think. “Stupid thoughts! Why am I dwelling on you? You make me miserable!” Don’t do that! Just recognize that you have the thoughts, but try not to follow where they lead. Beating yourself up won’t help, but accepting these thoughts and not focusing on them keeps you in a happier place. If you find yourself falling down the thought drain, you can just stop and focus on whatever is happening around you. Bring yourself back into this moment.
I understand that this is often easier said than done. I still struggle with this on occasion, but I have come to trust how I feel as an indicator to my thoughts. The more I pay attention to how I feel in a given moment, the more I can change my focus and be part of my current situation. Even if this moment isn’t going well, I can be accepting of it. I try not to label the moment as a bad moment, it’s more of an “is-what-it-is” moment. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. At least it’s getting easier.
Let’s recap. Thoughts, not situations, are what are controlling how we feel. Thoughts are not absolute truths. How you feel will tell you a lot about what you are thinking. Judging yourself for having negative thoughts makes you suffer needlessly, but accepting and letting thoughts just be, without following them, takes the pressure off of controlling them. The more you pay attention to what is really happening, not what you think is happening, may happen, or has happened, the more you can free yourself from the never-ending thought loop.
I hope this has helped bring to light the over thinking that continually occurs, and that you find yourself under less thought control. As always I welcome feedback though comments and emails.
Have a great moment.