Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be in charge of our thoughts? Imagine a life where every thought you had was supportive, constructive, kind, useful and in service to your greater good. How do our thoughts work, and how can we get them on our side?
About twenty years ago, I joined a group of people who organised workshops about emotional intelligence. This particular system had been going for at least 10 years when I came aboard, and here I was at my very first meeting, the newbie in a room of seasoned veterans. On this particular day, the group were very excited because the founder of the system was to be there. There was a lot of awe and reverence surrounding this man.
The only available seat in the room was right next to him, so being the newbie, and lacking awe or reverence, I plonked myself down next to The Big Man.
The session began and the group fired their questions at him. It transpired that the top man had a condition that was causing his thinking to be foggy and so he was slow to bring forth the answers to the questions.
However, because I was sitting next to him, as the answers were trying to find their way to him through his fog, I was picking them up. So as he ummed, aahed and struggled to find the answers, I jumped in with suggested answers. It was so unexpected. The irreverent newbie was speaking the thoughts of The Big Man.
This was my introduction to how thoughts work. The questions elicited answers. Any one of us had access to these answers. They literally moved around the room, knocking on doors until they were picked up.
The answers didn’t belong to a person, they belonged to the questions.
I picked them up because I didn’t know that I was supposed to leave the big questions to The Big Man.
And so began a curiosity with how thoughts work.
I noticed that there is a societal tendency to teach us what to think, rather than how to think. We each grew up within a context, circles within circles. When they are in accordance with each other the action of questioning rarely arises. So if we grew up with a family, a school and a society that held the same beliefs, we would have no reason to question whether our thoughts and beliefs were actually true. We wouldn’t even know that they were beliefs, we would just think that’s how the world was.
Thoughts have substance. They remind me of fish in the way that they swim around, going about their business until such a time that we catch one.
And like fish (and pretty much everything else) they tend to hang out with others of their own kind. The type of thoughts we ‘catch’ depends on the type of ‘bait’ we are using. It’s like the thoughts just hang out in the ethers until we call them to us using our vibration as bait.
When our vibration is higher, we have access to higher thought forms, when it’s lower, we’ll be trawling through shoals of less desirable thought forms. The art is in discerning which thoughts are useful and which can be thrown back into the water.
The trouble with the way thoughts interface with us, is that they tend to do it in a recognisable voice, usually our own. Because they tend to speak in a voice that we recognise, it’s like they have our password and get through our filter systems. If a person on the street told you that you were unworthy and undeserving of happiness, chances are that you wouldn’t believe them. But when the same thoughts seem to emanate from within, we don’t question them.
It’s actually very easy to change our relationship with thought. The first step is to simply notice that you think. The best way I know of to do this comes from Eckhart Tolles’ ‘The Power of Now’.
To do this exercise, simply close your eyes and sit for 1 minute like a cat waiting to pounce upon the mouse of thought. Every time a thought comes, notice it and then let it go and wait for the next one. The very act of bringing your attention to thought already interrupts its flow and causes there to be space between the thoughts.
As you get used to doing this, you’ll find that you begin to notice that you are experiencing thoughts even when you’re not doing the exercise. When I began doing this exercise, I quickly noticed that there were underlying thought patterns that I had literally based my life around that turned out not to be completely false. My underlying thought pattern was that I didn’t have space and I didn’t have time. I thought that my house was too small, and that I didn’t have enough time to focus on myself in any meaningful way.
Turns out that the truth was that my house was the size that it was, and that I had the same 24 hours in each day as absolutely everyone else. Who knew?!
There is undoubtedly violence in the world we live in, and I see no reason to add to it through self harming thoughts. I strongly urge you to question your thoughts, and to not believe everything you think!