Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
The answer is “Yes” and “No”! Before we go deep into this topic, let’s understand what a ‘thought’ is. ‘Thought’, as per the Oxford dictionary, means “an idea or opinion produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind.” Hence, a thought is an act of thinking and generally based on past experiences. A thought is also visualisation of the past and future. Our thoughts are always associated with a picture in our mind, and our brain processes the image(s) we are storing in our memory. People these days store good memories on Pendrive and bad memories in minds.
Let me start with “NO” as an answer. You should not control or stop your thoughts; it’s like stopping your breath or any other vital body function. Like water is to kidneys, thought is to your brain. We should not stop or control our thoughts. Instead, we need to streamline our thoughts. The answer is, “YES” because the thought process should be controlled, not the thoughts itself. Like the kidney maintains the overall fluid balance in the body, similarly the brain can direct your thoughts in the right direction.
When it comes to our kidney, we make sure we control the kinds of fluids we consume to protect it but, when it comes to our brain, we generally do not take charge of the type of thoughts we create for ourselves…ever thought about that?
We are the directors and producers of the mega serials in our life. We create all kinds of drama in our mind, the feelings of sadness, happiness, fear, anxiety etc. According to medical research, by the University of Maryland, 95% of the negative thoughts that we cook up in our brains, in our entire lifetime, DO NOT come true at all! Just think of the thoughts of fear you had in the last two days and find out how many have come true.
Let’s take an example of the economy; the moment people hear about the slowdown in the economy they press the panic button, “what if I lose my job?”, “what if I lose the money invested in the market, Mutual funds?”, etc. These questions make you feel like it’s the end of the world! But this is a normal phenomenon and we have all gone through a few slowdowns ourselves but, we have survived them and are still going strong. In fact, a slowdown is the best time to invest in the markets. It’s the fear, more than the downturn, which affects us. Let’s replace this fear with a good thought. Let’s replace the thought of slowdown with a positive feeling, by telling ourselves, “Yes, the downturn in the economy is here but, I have the skills required to survive it with ease”. Similarly, once you start ageing, the fear of diseases, affect us more than the actual physical condition. Replace it with good health statements and feed the body some good food and exercise, and it will run smoothly.
According to the National Science Foundation Research, more than 70% of our thoughts are of fear and anxiety (negative thoughts). On an average, 20% of the body’s energy is consumed by our brain for its normal function. But when in a state of fear, it consumes a lot more energy and drains our body. That is the reason we feel fatigued when stressed out.
There are two critical periods in your day when you have to be more conscious about your thoughts, than the rest of the day. They are before you hit the bed, at night, and when you wake up from your sleep, in the morning. Experts suggest the mood with which you wake-up is crucial because the rest of the day depends on that. I personally feel that, the 15 to 30 mins before your sleep is more important than your waking moments, in the morning. My reasoning being, if you go to bed stressed and agitated, you wake-up with the same thoughts in your mind. So, it’s essential that we go to sleep with a clear mind, cleansing our mind of all the day’s thoughts. Practicing this will get us some good sound sleep. When you wake-up in the morning, you are relaxed and have fresh thoughts. You need to build this habit consciously.
Spend 15 to 30 mins before you go to sleep to look through the day, what went right, and what didn’t. Screen your day, clear all the bad thoughts, make them positive and do a short 5 mins relaxation meditation. Slowly make it a practice to list out the activities of the day (written or mentally) and remove the unnecessary ones by striking them out. Think of what you could have done better and plan to do it the next day. At the end, sleep with good thoughts and see how fresh you feel, mentally, when you wake-up the following day. Following this pattern, will improve your sleep quality and get rid of unwanted or bad dreams in your sleep too.
Morning meditation helps in enhancing your thought process. Meditation helps us to screen all the thoughts of our mind. While meditating, your thoughts will start coming in front of you. Remove the unnecessary thoughts from your mind one by one and bring your attention to breathing.
Now that you are aware of how to handle the nights and early mornings, let’s work on the rest of the day. Experts estimate that our minds think close to 50,000+ thoughts every day. Morning meditation would help in streamlining the thoughts for the day. However, we are still left with a lot of thoughts which are still negative. So we use affirmations to replace these negative thoughts. A simple one could be, to replace the phrase and attitude to, “I can’t do it” with “I can try to do it” or “I will try to do it” or best still, “I can do it”.
Similarly, the moment we get a negative thought in our mind, we should remove it and replace it with a positive thought or an affirmation. This process will make sure you look at everything in a whole new perspective. Affirmations are a great way to unlock your potential and to motivate yourself. Does this mean, all your negative thoughts will be gone? No, even if we improve by 10% (which is actually improving 10% only, of the 70% of our total thoughts, as explained earlier in this article) to start with, your life will manifest into a beautiful journey.
Is this as simple as mentioned in the article? Yes, if only you are committed to it. The first thing you need to do is change your first thought to “I can change my thought process”. Then a conscious effort is required for the initial few days until it becomes a habit.
Go ahead and transform your thought process; “You are as valuable as your thoughts!”.