“Take charge of your thoughts. You can do what you will with them.” — Plato
Our thoughts have the power to shape our life, yet many people believe their thoughts are fixed and cannot be changed. Since we cannot see a thought, it’s considered something that happens to us rather than through us. For example, I started journaling because of my frustration with negative thoughts and to observe my thinking. My thoughts were scattered, as though unravelling a cotton thread and trying to make sense of it was futile. However, upon waking the next morning, my thoughts were tranquil and peaceful. They were like ocean tides, sometimes furious yet other times calm and composed. Nevertheless, it was difficult to see a pattern that I could make sense of. Have you experienced something similar, where one minute your thoughts are calm and peaceful and the next moment it’s chaos and confusion?
How can our thoughts be out of control one day and peaceful the next? The universal view states that if we stop resisting the flow of thoughts, no matter how oppressive, they will rescind into the background of our mind. Yet the more attention and energy we award them, the more they grow. We know this as being a silent witness to our thoughts, like waves crashing into the shoreline. It must be said that we are not our thoughts and thinking does not make up who we are. Thoughts come and go from the mind, so there’s no point in attaching ourselves to individual thoughts. To cultivate empowering thoughts is challenging since we are under the influence of our external environment. Those who entertain empowering thoughts realise life flows peacefully, as opposed to those under the influence of negative thoughts.
The benefits of nurturing empowering thoughts include:
- Reduction in stress levels: Your thoughts will oscillate in a steady flow, with no peaks and troughs. Stress is caused by external stimuli which produces internal unrest.
- Improved sense of well-being and health: You’re less likely to entertain thoughts of lack, ill-health, disease and pain since you recognise the mechanism underlying destructive thinking.
- Better coping mechanisms: Your threshold or tolerance levels improve. What set you off before now has little impact on you. You are stable and less likely to react to external stressors.
- More successful: Those who nurture empowering thoughts are better equipped to navigate their way through life’s dramas. They’re less affected by their external world.
- Problems give way to opportunities: Those who harness the natural flow of thoughts are orientated towards opportunities instead of problems. Their minds are geared toward success and prosperity instead of lack. To navigate your way out of destructive situations through empowered thinking becomes a key asset in life.
How To Reclaim Your Power
“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
How will you know if your thoughts are harmonious and peaceful? Look no further than your inner world. What upset you earlier, will have little effect on you as you learn to observe and distance yourself from your thoughts. However, meditation helped me reclaim the inner peace that was there all along. Being in silence with my thoughts allowed me to transform my daily living habits. If you’re unaccustomed to meditation, consider incorporating it into your life. Integrate it slowly by finding time in your daily schedule. Start with as little as five minutes a day and work up to twenty minutes or more, as you become accustomed to it.
Some people cringe at the thought of spending time alone in silence. They need noise and other people around them to confirm their existence. However, your soul is the quiet voice which speaks in whispers. To retreat into silence provides a perfect space for that voice to be heard. If you struggle to sit in silence for ten minutes or more, I suggest working your way into the practice until it becomes an adopted habit. It requires time and patience to adjust to a new behaviour, particularly as it relates to nurturing positive thoughts. Avoid going hard when starting out, take your time to enjoy the experience and learn to be comfortable with silence. When your thoughts are out of balance, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. Don’t silence them, as doing so means resisting what is. Your natural state is peace and harmony, so make an inner declaration to awaken this stillness, instead of being a victim to the endless mental chatter.
Navigating your thoughts is akin to driving a car. You might speed up, brake, corner and slow down depending on the road conditions ahead. Your thoughts have the same influence. You become a passenger without a steering wheel, following the trail of thoughts until they dissolve into the background of your mind. When your thoughts are out of control, instead of resisting them, follow their lead. Since you’re not attached to the outcome, note the main themes of the thoughts. As a result, you build awareness and direct your attention toward calmer waters. “Where attention goes energy flows; where intention goes energy flows,” writes the author James Redfield. You cannot stop unwanted thoughts because what you resist persists. Your resistance to what is becomes the source of suffering, which fuels more of the same suffering. To break the cycle, go with the flow of thoughts. Personal growth means road blocks will arise to test you from time to time. Your task, is to allow the experience to unfold while discovering the valuable lessons that lie within each experience.
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