Why is it that so many people try to control so much in life, but let their thoughts run rampant every day? How come people can be such super managers of their time, workplace or households, yet don’t even consider the fact that they can also manage their thoughts? What is it about our thoughts that make us believe we’re at their mercy, when we actually have the power to manage them in a gently empowered way?
If you wish to learn to master your thoughts, recognize that they are electrical impulses in our brain—not truth, not fact, not reality—that come and go. Some thoughts are constructive and others are destructive. Some will take us where we want to go, such as to achieving our goals or generating pleasant emotions, while others will do the exact opposite and ensure that we fail to reach our goals, keeping us in a perpetual state of discomfort and yearning.
I was talking about thoughts with a client and asked her how she chose bananas when she was in the supermarket: Did she just pick up bunch after bunch and toss them into her cart or did she inspect them to see if she wanted to take them home or not? She laughed and said that she inspected them, of course. Then I asked if someone came running up to her and put a bunch of any old bananas into her arms, insisting that she keep them, how would she react. She laughed again and said that she wouldn’t automatically take whatever bananas were shoved at her, no matter who gave them to her, but would check them out carefully to see if they were up to her standards.
Bingo! She got my point—that we spend more time picking out our food, cars, clothes, etc. to see if they’re right for us than we do with thoughts. Somehow, if a thought pops into our heads, we just assume that it must be appropriate and run with it. You may be careful to scrutinize the people you allow into your home and shire, which restaurants you eat in, and what music you listen to. But, when it comes to thoughts, in your mind it’s a free for all, first come, first served.
If you think of thoughts as ideas, you might do better at being their gate-keeper. Some thoughts are excellent ideas and some are terrible. But we don’t know this until we put them under a microscope to see if they’re going to take us to a positive or negative place and will be useful for or detrimental to reaching our goals. We don’t know this unless we measure them against our values. Simply because you have an impulse to eat, drink, or drive fast, doesn’t mean that these activities will be healthy for you.
It pays to follow the old adage to stop and think. View your thoughts objectively merely as ideas, suggestions or assumptions and don’t act on them until you’re sure they’ll be beneficial in the long run. The goal is to manage your thoughts, rather than have them manage you.