In this post, I’ve tried to condense the experience I’ve had in getting on top of my thought life to 7 simple steps to take control of your thoughts. Hopefully, like me, you can use this to start living the life free and clear of negative and destructive thought patterns.
If you are anything like me, your thought life can often get the better of you if left unchecked.
You know, you’re sitting there thinking about one thing or another, say, thinking about where the next holiday destination might be, and all of a sudden you start thinking ‘I hate my life’, or ‘he/she really doesn’t like me’, or ‘i’m a total failure’.
These thoughts may pop up on the odd occasion or they might be more regular, either way, not being in tune with your thoughts can fast-track you to a very sad, dark, and destructive end.
Your Thoughts Control Your Life
It’s crucial that we take control of our thoughts and start living the life we were meant to live.
I’m not certain, but I think the mortality rate is still up near 100%, so the quicker we can learn some crucial life lessons, the better of the remaining period of our lives will be.
While you may have already learned your own life lessons, I’d ask that you pay particular attention to mine. I’m not backward in coming forward to say I’ve stuffed up and that listening to me, could save you a truckload of pain and heartache.
I’ve struggled with controlling my thoughts over many years and have found that some simple steps can help you overcome what might seem like an overpowering never-ending battle.
So, again, let’s go on a little journey.
If you want control over your thought life, the following are my 7 Simple Steps to Take Control of Your Thoughts.
7 Simple Steps to Take Control of Your Thoughts.
Step No. 1
Understand What Thoughts Are
There has been much study and interpretation of what a thought maybe.
From Hermann von Helmhotz, the German Physicist and physician, Wilhelm Wundt, the father of experimental psychology, Edward Chace Tolman, the great experimentalist and theoretician in psychology, the cognitive psychologist Roger Shepard and recently C .Randy Gallistel, Lawrence W. Barsalou, Stephen Kosslyn, all have contributed to the scientific understanding of what a thought is.
I am certainly not armed with the intellectual capacity to match these greats, so I won’t venture to provide a meaning of thoughts, but I do like the meaning according to clinical psychologist Melanie Greenburn Pd.D.
In her article in PsychologyToday she says ‘Our thoughts are passing, mental events, influenced by our moods, states of hunger or tiredness, physical health, hormones, sex, the weather, what we watched on TV last night, what we ate for dinner, what we learned as kids, and so on‘.
Thoughts are only thoughts. They don’t often reflect reality, nor should they have an influence over you. Thoughts should be and are certainly able to be controlled. Thoughts can be true and thoughts can be false.
“Many Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 12,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day! One study suggests that 80% are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.
Step No. 2.
Be Careful How You Think
To live a life of freedom and success, you really need to make an active effort to get on top of your thought life.
“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you find you’re critical of yourself, taking yourself down rabbit holes of self-doubt, allowing yourself to wallow in self-pity, overwhelmed with feelings of depression, hating who you are, or generally listening to all the negative talk in your mind, you’re in trouble.
The second step in the 7 Steps to Take Control of Your Thoughts is being careful about how you think. This step can help you develop a strong mind, and is crucial in getting a hold on those wondering thought patterns.
You can’t live a successful fulfilling life if you’re stuck in your brain listening to negative thoughts. Take an active position on how you think and not leave it up to your brain to determine how you feel.
You have to be aware of your thoughts.
If you’re anything like me though, you can, on occasion, let your thoughts get the best of you. You know what I mean. You’re sitting there and what seems like out of the blue, a thought pops into your head;
‘You can’t change who you are so don’t bother trying’
‘You look terrible today’
‘Do you really think they like you’
‘No-one appreciates you’
‘You’ll never be good enough’
‘They can see right through you’
‘I’m not going to succeed, I just know it’
‘You stuffed up again. You’re a total failure’. and so on and so on.
Why do we let our thoughts take over our lives? When we start to believe them, a pattern emerges. You start listening to them all the time. They build on each other, they get worse, more intense and the more oxygen you give them, the more they take control.
It’s a downward spiraling process and will quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“You are what you think you are. Your actions are controlled by your thoughts”.David Schwartz
Step. No. 3.
Don’t Give Your Thoughts Permission
I’ve been there. It starts off small, in my experience, then it builds and in the end, you don’t even realize where these thoughts have taken you.
The thoughts that I’ve had to wrestle with have mostly been about;
What people think about me
The fact that I will never get back to my healthy self,
The way I look,
How I’m totally out of my league when it comes to mixing with intelligent colleagues,
My inadequacies of being an exemplary father, husband, brother, and son
The failure I’ve been as a friend
How my relationship with God is less than adequate
The lack of purpose in my life,
When it’s all said and done, there’s been more said than done.
What I have done is made a conscious effort not to dwell in these thoughts and not to allow them to dictate my mood.
Thoughts like these can be destructive and overwhelming to deal with.
Step. No. 4.
Question ‘Is It True?
Thoughts are thoughts. They are often baseless and nonsensical. They are random and often-times critical, and for the most part, have nothing to do with reality.
Remember, thoughts don’t necessarily reflect reality, in fact, in most cases, they are the total opposite!
Our mind is a battlefield and we need to take control of it. We need to make a conscious effort to stay on top of our thought patterns, as they can literally take a hold of us and drive us to places we never thought we’d go.
Questioning ‘Is this thought true?’ is extremely powerful and is crucial in the 7 Simple Steps to Take Control of Your Thoughts.
In his article on How To Control Your Mind, Tony Robbins says ‘Instead of simply accepting all our beliefs, we must commit to investigating whether our beliefs are certifiably true, or whether they are the product of circumstances and experiences that do not accurately reflect who we really are.’
Be aware of when your thoughts go off on tangents. Be conscious of when they are negative, as negative thoughts will quickly lead you down a destructive path if you aren’t actively and purposefully on top of them.
Be careful how you think.
David Schwartz says your actions are controlled by your thoughts. If your actions are controlled by your thoughts, your life is ultimately shaped by your thoughts.
I’ve taken the logical position to any thoughts that pop into my head and that is to investigate if the thought is of a negative or destructive nature, and if so, immediately think about something else.
If a thought has no basis, immediately think about something else.
If the thought will change my mood in a negative way, I think about something else.
If the thought is about something I cannot control, I think about something else.
You get the picture.
Thinking about something else, or replacing a negative thought with a positive thought, is a sure-fire way to control your thoughts.
Audition your thoughts
Another way you can approach a thought, however, is by actively asking if that thought fits with where you want your future to be. Your future reality.
Think of it this way. If you see yourself losing 50 lb’s and being in great shape, the thought that you’ll never make it, that you’re destined to be fat, doesn’t align with how you see your future self.
If thoughts don’t align with the vision you have of yourself, move them on.
I heard someone say recently that thoughts are like auditions. When one comes into your mind and it doesn’t really fit the ‘play’ that’s going on in your mind, dismiss it. Sorry, that doesn’t fit what I’m looking for at the moment. ‘NEXT!’ You’re the casting director. You make the decision on what thoughts make the cut. You make the decisions on what thought you give your attention to.
Step. No. 5.
Understand Your Thoughts Are Not You
This approach also works well. When a thought pops into your mind that you’re not good enough, tell yourself that “I’m having a thought that says I’m not good enough”. It’s a subtle change in thinking, but you’re actually differentiating your thoughts from who or what you are.
You’re telling yourself that a thought has popped up and that you’re aware of it. From there, replace the thought with an opposite thought.
‘you can’t change who you are so don’t bother trying’ Anyone can change and I’m no different
you look terrible today’ I like the way I look and will act like it.
‘do you really think they like you’ I’ve got so much to offer, how could anyone Not like me
‘no-one appreciates you’ I’m loving and considerate. People would be blessed to have me in their lives
‘you’ll never be good enough’ I’ve got the rest of my life to improve.
‘they can see right through you‘ I’ve got nothing to hide, I am who I am.
‘I’m not going to succeed, I just know it’ I Might fail over and over, but sooner or later I’ll succeed.
‘you stuffed up again. You’re a total failure‘ My failures don’t define me.
It might feel strange at first, and you may not even believe the opposite thought, but it’s crucial to replace the destructive or negative thought with something totally opposite.
Get into a habit of doing this and you’ll soon find that you become acutely aware of what thoughts are popping into your mind and how ridiculous they seem.
Step. No. 6.
Don’t Think About The Things You Don’t Want To Happen
When you think about the things you don’t want to happen, or are afraid will happen, you manifest those things when you focus on them.
What you’re concentrating on in your brain, is what you focus on. So, focus on thinking about positive uplifting encouraging thoughts. These are the things you’ll manifest in your life.
You are in control of your thoughts
Attempt to take an active role in what you think.
Step. No. 7.
Reframe Your Thinking
The last step in the 7 Simple Steps to Take Control of Your Thoughts, is around reframing your thinking.
You can and you must reframe how you think. It’s imperative you change your behaviour around your daily thought life.
If you let your thoughts go unchallenged, you are guaranteed to fall into depression, lose self-control, and generally become a ‘dick’ to be around. You’ll lose friends, get fat, be critical of those close to you, and have a warped sense of what’s important.
Get control of how you think. If you already feel like you’re trapped by your thought patterns, understand that you can re-frame how you approach your thought life. It will take some time, no doubt, however, we’re in this life for the long haul.
You may just need a paradigm shift in the way you think about thoughts. A paradigm shift is a change from one way of thinking to another. It occurs when one paradigm loses its influence and another takes over.
In taking a fresh look at how your thoughts have an influence on your life will fast-track your way out of the stinking thinking mindset that you far too often encounter.
In addition to a fresh look at your thought life, take a deeper look. This is called metacognition. Metacognition is essentially what you know about your own thoughts.
It’s a deeper level of thinking. It’s how you think about your thinking 0r how you regulate your thoughts. It’s how you understand, change, and control your thoughts. In other words, it’s an awareness and understanding of one’s own thought process.
In order for you to fully gain control of your thought life, you need to take a fresh and deep look at your thoughts and assess them critically so that you are better able to understand the fact from the fiction.
You are in control of your thought life, no one else. Take responsibility to review this part of your life in order that you can live a fulfilled and extraordinary future.
ACTION: Try identifying what the thought is and if it’s not helpful or uplifting, move it on!
Let me know below whether these Steps to Take Control of Your Thoughts resonated with you and if so, how you’re going to get on top of your thoughts. Alternatively, jump over to the Facebook page to discuss.
You Are Awesome. you Are loved, you Are good enough, and you have an amazing future. Tell yourself this over and over and believe it,… because it’s true!