Thoughts are funny things. They have a profound impact on our lives and the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Some thoughts are pesky, and lead us to self-doubt, limiting our ability to realize our fullest potentials. Below are a few thoughts on thoughts. Understanding and managing thoughts is a skill that must be learned. There are many tools that exist to help you manage them and relate to them in healthy ways.
1. You are not your thoughts
This may seem like a simple statement, but it is fundamental to healthy thought management. Our brains are like radio antennae. Depending on the channel to which a radio is set varies the signal that it plays. Turning the channel alters what is heard. Like those antennae, so our brains receive thoughts from the ether. Healthy thought management begins at this place, recognizing that many of our thoughts can come from places outside ourselves. It is important to recognize that simply because a thought lands in our headspace, does not mean it is important or worthy of our time and attention.
2. Notice your thoughts, but do not judge them
Once we fundamentally understand that we are not our thoughts, we can begin to disassociate with thoughts that are pesky and problematic. Whatever the thought that holds you back, when it appears, do not judge it. Do not blame yourself for having the thought. Do not judge it as good or bad. Do not become angry with it. Do not call it positive or negative. Simply notice it.
3. Identify your thoughts by name
When you notice it, it is also helpful to call the thought by name. If it is a worry thought, or a sad thought, when you notice the thought, say its name. This is a very powerful tool and will often immediately reduce the thought’s power over you and your emotions. Do not be afraid to say to yourself, “Ah, just another worry thought.”
4. Plant healthy thoughts in place of negative ones
For each pesky thought you want to remove from your thinking, identify a positive, healthy thought for its place. Write these down and use them to trigger healthy thinking. For example, if you often have worry thoughts about money, after you notice and name your thought, quickly follow-up by planting a thought that is positive, warm, and reminds you of positive things. You might remind yourself how abundant life is. Or, remember something you have and for which you are thankful.
5. Write down what is important to you
Writing down your goals and what you want from life is one of the most important things you can do. Transforming your thoughts into writing transforms it from something that exists in the ether to something that is physical and tangible. By writing down the things you want from life, you can easily sort between thoughts that are worthy of your time and those that are not. When you notice the thought, say its name. You can tell the pesky ones, “sorry, no time for you today.”