Why You Are Not Your Thoughts, But The Receiver Of The Thoughts

Published on: December 12, 2010

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“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” – Marcus Aurelius 

The Buddhist principle states you are not the sum of your thoughts, rather the observer of the thoughts. Many people entertain limiting thoughts around lack of in their lives. I am not good enough, I am overweight, I am not good enough. These thoughts lead to a feedback loop of self deprecating thoughts which fuel the emotional body.

The truth of the matter is that your habitual thoughts do not represent the real you. Do you think great leaders entertain limiting thoughts like these? I think not. They don’t allow them to enter into their mind in the first instance, since they recognise that a truly great person does not think this way. You are a great person. Understand what that means for a moment.

All great leaders started out like others. They weren’t always inspiring or at least their genius or talents were latent. What separated them from others was their minds and ability to not buy into limiting thoughts. They had a vision or goal of being greater than they were. You can create the same life if you choose.

As you become the observer of the thought, this poses the question as to who is having the thought. Since you are now divested of your thoughts by not identifying with them. This allows one to become removed from the habitual pattern we fall into – believing that we are what we think. We affirm that since we are the experiencer of the thought, they must be true.

In an earlier blog post I spoke about being the silent witness standing at the shoreline observing your thoughts as though they were waves coming in. Some waves arrive fast and furiously, yet seem to dissolve as soon they hit the shore. Others slowly find their way in yet also fade away. By becoming the observer, you allow the witness of the thoughts to take shape.

The witness or observer does not become invested in the waves. They appreciate there are different waves (thoughts) entertained in one’s mental landscape. They notice more and identify less with them. The observer approach requires some discipline and practice. Learn to have some fun with it. In no time, you’ll notice as you become better, the limiting thoughts arrive less frequently. You are not giving them life or energy anymore, so they have no place in your mind.


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4 Responses to Why You Are Not Your Thoughts, But The Receiver Of The Thoughts

  1. Aaron V says:

    Amazing article! I enjoy the Eckhart Tolle principle of the fact that we are not our minds. I agree that we should be the observer of our thoughts and that fear, doubt, anxiety, stress, etc. only tend to creep in once we identify with the negtive.
    Again, a truly great article!!

    • Thanks for your comment Aaron. I like the use of the wave as a metaphor to signify thoughts. Some waves come crashing in, yet others meld into the shoreline serenely. To judge a wave based on its intensity would be foolish. The same may be applied to our thoughts. The process of ‘observation’ eliminates the need to label the thought, since consciousness is already doing the observing. Your mind merely adds the commentary to it! Best wishes, Tony

      • Aaron V says:

        The wave anology is golden! I really find it insightful! Some thoughts fade quickly, others rush in as a great storm, but as long as we are just watching and witnessing and not identifying, then the flow or influx of thought matters not because you’re treating it with indifference instead of attachment. Thanks again!
        Also I’m curious as to what your opinion is on who we are? I side with the Roberto Assagioli perspective on the fact that we have a mind, a body, and emotions, but we are none of these. Instead we are centers of pure consciousness and of will. Though as I said I’m interested in your viewpoint. My cup is always empty.
        Take care!

        • Hi Aaron,

          Thanks for your comment. Yes the wave analogy is useful in allowing one to disconnect from the need to ‘attach’ themselves to thoughts by witnessing them as a transitory state.

          Like you, I am also interested in Roberto Assagioli views and believe we are eternal spiritual beings in human form.

          Deepak Chopra and others in his field posit that our emotions, thoughts and level of consciousness are the frequency in which we omit our signals. Therefore we are not the radio, by the conduit for the expression of that wave.

          I am also in favour of the late Dr David Hawkins’s work in consciousness.


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