Think About What You’re Thinking: How To Be Mindful Of Your Thoughts
As Lao Tzu famously put it, watch your thoughts, as they will become your destiny.
We spend every waking hour of the day with our own thoughts. Sure, the outside world might influence us a great deal. But it is what we internalize and keep thinking about that shapes our reality. When our thoughts are negative, our mood turns sour. When our thoughts remain positive, dealing with life’s challenges becomes less challenging.
SEE ALSO: The Innate Power Of True Forgiveness
You are what you think
Advice along the lines of “think positive thoughts” sounds a lot like new-age mumbo jumbo, especially when something has happened in the real world to make you feel upset, sad, or angry. However, the only thing in life we can truly and completely control are our own thoughts. We may not be masters of them 100% of the time, but we can teach ourselves to be mindful of them and monitor how they make us feel. For instance, ask yourself how you feel when you’re scrolling through your recommended Instagram feed. Are you comparing yourself to others? Are you making yourself feel bad?
These situations – when we choose to think less about ourselves based on zero tangible evidence other than looking at the highlight reel of somebody else’s existence – are a prime example of the way our thoughts influence our destiny. We feel bad because we don’t look as good as others or don’t have as many something or other as others. Our own sense of value begins to dwindle. Consequently, our actions in the real world also become more muted. They become driven with less assurance, and we fail to achieve our goals.
A positive limit
The goal, however, is not to go down the opposite route either. You are aiming to find a happy, neutral, objective medium. You cannot possibly think exclusively positive thoughts. Likewise, viewing yourself as the pinnacle of all goodness would only lead to a different kind of illusion. When you do something well, acknowledge the fact and give yourself a mental pat on the back. When you realize you could have dealt with a situation better, examine your reactions and thoughts, learn from the experience, and aim to react differently when the same thing happens again.
Accept the fact that there will be times when you are unable to control the spiral of your thoughts. This is perfectly fine. You are not less than or weak for being perfectly human. Your aim is to recognize your thoughts for what they are. Determine whether they are doing you any good or serving a specific purpose, whether you want them in your life or not, and act accordingly.
Thought mindfulness and management
To be mindful of your thoughts, you first need to become aware of them. It can be very difficult to prompt yourself to catch your thoughts as they are unfolding – until you get some practice.
For starters, you can try journaling. Writing down your thoughts after they’ve occured and taking some time to examine them can help you develop a deeper practice of thought management. Whether you type your thoughts out or write them down by hand, make sure you are always completely honest with yourself. Noone else will be reading your thoughts, so keep no secrets.
Practicing breathing exercises is another great tactic to help you boost mindfulness. They can calm you down and reduce your anxiety and stress levels, also calming your racing thoughts. Meditation is, of course, the ultimate tool for thought mindfulness if you approach it the right way. Meditation does not quiet or still your mind. You won’t erase your thoughts completely when meditating. What you’ll try to achieve is that sense of deep relaxation, watching your thoughts flicker across the surface of your mind without disturbing them. You’ll be acknowledging them and letting them go on their way.
With a little bit of practice, you can become much more mindful about your thoughts. And that, in turn, can change your entire outlook on life. No change happens overnight, though, so you will need to practice mindfulness and mind management. Give yourself plenty of time to adjust to this new practice, and you’ll slowly learn how to become the true master of yourself.
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