Thought Crime 2014 – Choosing the Right Thoughts – Part 2 of 2
Why does this matter? Well, your thoughts are one of the many important determinants of how you experience your life. They’re part of your ecosystem, your daily mental habitat, like the books you read, movies you enjoy, songs you listen to, people you hang with and what they say to you, and how they influence you. They create a culture in which you operate and develop, a bit like a petri dish or a habitat, you might say. All of the latter of course can resonate within your mind and become absorbed into your thoughts and thought trains.
Tracking the origin of a thought sequence over a period of time is an interesting exercise in itself, especially if you go back to the origin and trace the causal cycle. You often find that no thought is original to you – someone has usually put it there, or you’ve just absorbed it by osmosis, not even thinking about it. Not questioning whether it’s true or false, or adds value to or detracts from your life.
It’s also evident that a significant number of these thoughts, no matter how many you entertain on a daily basis, are likely to be repetitive; often re-runs of past experience or predictions of an uncertain future when things may be ‘better’.
So in a way, you need to become a thought sentinel, the gatekeeper of your own mind. If you repeat a thought such as ‘I’ll never amount to anything or ever be good enough’ on a regular basis, is that thought going to be your default setting, your reality? Is that thought original to you, did it sneak into your head and find fertile soil due to the way your mind is configured, or was it pretty much hammered in there by a parental or authority figure? If so, how long ago, and how has it affected your life? Is it relevant, was it ever, and does it need to keep ricocheting around the corridors of your mind?
Did you know that certain thoughts phrased in specific ways can create an indelible footprint on your brain? Your amygdala, which controls emotion and fear, is very susceptible to certain words or word patterns. Just say the word ‘depression’ a few times and see how you feel. Negative words and thoughts will stimulate your amygdala into a constant ‘fight or flight’ status, producing the stress hormone cortisol in order to ready you to deal with a perceived threat. Over time, your brain and body will suffer – you’ll start to lose your memory and feel constantly stressed, which will compromise your immune system and affect the quality of your life. Thoughts are things, and can assume a life of their own. Be very vigilant what you think and how it makes you feel.
So you can see that these pesky thoughts need to be examined, looked at, and if they’re harmful to you, rooted out and eliminated. Which is why it’s useful to keep a thought audit. When you detect these regularly occurring thought trains, and note their insidious nature, you can decide what to do with them.
You can see yourself as an observer, quite an objective one, of your own thoughts. You might think ‘ah, there’s that thought that keeps running that says I’m no good. Now, where did that one come from. Of course, my aunt who never like me. And she died years ago. So why am I keeping that vile person in my mind, why am I letting her affect me. Why am I honouring that old horror?’
So now you get to the root of things. The thoughts that aren’t your own, the falsehoods that have crept into your mind and impacted you. Thoughts that simply are not you, or the you that was meant to be.
They’ll keep crawling back unless you make an effort to stop them, change the script and simply nuke them. When a negative thought makes its entrance onto the stage of your mind, just think ‘pattern interrupt’, ‘cancel’, ‘positive opportunity’, or be more Anglo Saxon and just say ‘fuck off’. Then replace it with a positive thought or thought train like ‘I’m cool and groovy and am having a great life,’ or however you want to phrase it. Over a period of time, you’ll sculpt new neural pathways and these more positive feelings will embed and become part of you. Neurons that fire together wire together.
This is a process of mental detoxification. Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to ensure the majority of your thoughts are affirmative, even assertive, and framed in positive language. At the very least, your default mindset should be neutral and not stray into negative territory. It can take a while to eradicate past conditioning, but try it, your life will turn out a lot better than you thought. It’s also worth having a cool objective look at the books you read, music you listen to, news media that you follow, and people you consort with. Anything toxic in your life should be removed, and that means individuals you know who constantly undermine your or add no value to your life.