”October dear, I breathe you in like air.”
Thoughts are a huge part of who we are. The human mind is a beautiful, yet complicated and sophisticated machine, and it’s estimated that an average person has between 40.000 to 60.000 thoughts per day (National Science Foundation). What is more, 80 % of these thoughts are negative, and 95 % are repetitive.
Nevertheless, one important aspect to bare in mind is that you’re not your thoughts, you’re simply having thoughts. Furthermore, you aren’t even conscious of most of the thoughts running through your mind. These so called subliminal messages go un-noticed since they aren’t perceived by the conscious mind. However, whether we notice these thoughts or not they will affect us to some extent.
Pay attention to your thoughts
According to the facts above it might seem that all we do is complain, whine or have thoughts that diminish our own or other people’s self worth, and mostly without even being aware of it. According to Eckhart Tolle one of the ego’s favourite strategies to strengthen itself is through complaining.
”Every complaint is a little story the mind makes up that you completely believe in. Whether you complain aloud or only in thought makes no difference. Some egos that perhaps don’t have much else to identify with easily survive on complaining alone. When you are in the grip of such an ego, complaining, especially about other people, is habitual and, of course, unconscious, which means you don’t know what you are doing.” (A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle)
The first step in order to change negative thought patterns or limiting beliefs is to become aware of them. Start listening to the voice inside your head. What does it tell you? Once you learn to recognise and identify these thought patterns you can make a choice about how to react, and with time consciously make a choice to let them go. Watch them pass by, like the clouds on a sunny day. Invite them in, but don’t let them build a nest within.
If something bad happened to you in the past it’s very easy to keep the negative emotion connected to that particular event alive by compulsive thinking. You start to see yourself as the victim. However, dwelling on the past won’t do you any good; it will only contaminate your present and affect your current state of being in a negative way. Most importantly, it will take you further away from appreciating the beauty and aliveness of the present moment.
One again Eckhart Tolle explains it perfectly:
”It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven. If you do, become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, that is to say, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive, and feel the emotion that is the body’s response to those thoughts…. The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.” (A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle)
Change your thought patterns
Becoming a curious observer of what goes on inside your mind will eventually help you become free of toxic thinking. Firstly, don’t believe all of your thoughts, and don’t take them that seriously – most of the time it’s the never satisfied ego that’s talking. Once negative thoughts enter your mind the ego dives right in, and loves to dwell upon them. Instead, as soon as you become aware of this habit, make a conscious decision to bring more gratitude and positivity into your life, and notice how you, with time, eventually will heal from the negativity.
Secondly, changing negative thought patterns, however, is not about pushing away your true feelings, but rather choosing more realistic and helpful thoughts over harmful ones. This might be easier said than done, and like every other skill (or muscle) it requires practise, practise and more practise. Be patient with yourself and don’t punish yourself for having bad thoughts. Simply recognise them for what they are – simply thoughts.
The more mindful you strive to become, the less energy will be spent dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Rather, start spending the time being more here, and less there. What do you see? What do you taste? Smell? Hear? Be thankful for the beauty that surrounds you. It’s useful to practise this mindset in moments you feel anxious and fearful (e.g. obsessing over negative outcomes in your future) -> to redirect your focus on something else, like your breath, a painting on the wall, the sensations in your body (where do you feel the anxiety?), or simply by watching nature; the trees dancing in the wind, or the waves crashing ashore. It can be anything, as long as it takes your mind off that thought that created the negative downward spiral.
With that said;
Darling human, your thoughts are powerful,
therefore, choose them wisely.
The power to control your thoughts,
and thereby shape your reality,
lies within you. Create your life.