Photo by Kimmie Harper

Change your thoughts, and you change your world. Maybe we’ve all heard this kind of ubiquitous thing said before. However, our familiarity with a statement doesn’t make it any less true. The idea that we can control our thoughts almost feels mystical or fairytale-like. Is it possible for us to control what we think or are we defenseless against the noise between our ears? The way we think is stronger than we realize. It holds power to create or destroy. But for the most part, we let our thoughts run riot like a pack of wild hyenas.

Many of the great thinkers and philosophers of our history have broached this subject of ‘thought’ at one time or another. Aristotle is quoted as saying, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Perhaps our tendency to accept every thought is getting us into some mental turmoil. It’s funny how we filter everything that people say to us as either being true or false, but we don’t afford our thoughts the same. Why do we assume that everything we think falls into the ‘true’ category? In other words, we have a tendency to accept internal thought over external messages.

Neuroscience is now backing up this notion. With all those synapses and electrical thing-a-me-bobs firing around our brain, there are actual, physical ramifications to what we allow ourselves to think. In fact, scientists like Dr. Caroline Leaf are now suggesting that our mind and brain are two different things and that our mind controls the brain. Anyone confused yet? The idea is that we are in control of our brain, that we are not dictated to, or powerless to defend ourselves against our brains impulses. We can decide to conform or rebel against our brain, through the power of our mind.

This idea opens up all sorts of worm-riddled cans, but one I’d like to take an opener to is the idea that says ‘if we change the way we think, then we can change our life.’ That is a very bold statement, and if it is true, the repercussions are exponential. Kim Ades, the founder of Frame of Mind Coaching, suggests that no one would ever need to be held accountable to their goals if they just changed their thinking around that goal. Ever had a New Year’s resolution you didn’t complete? Well, that is a classic example of having the wrong thinking attached to achieving a goal. Change the thinking, achieve the goal.

But it’s not enough to just try and change your thinking on the spot. How do we know when a thought is wrong? How do we even go about changing it? Well, there must be a cause for that thought. Finding that root and ripping it up out of the ground is the first step. “I think this way because…” (Fill in the blank). We not only have to tear out that root, but we also need to replace it with the truth. We can’t leave a gaping wound and not dress it. For example, I may not be achieving a particular goal because the root of my thinking is that I don’t believe I have what it takes to make it happen. The root of that thought may be that I was told as a child I wasn’t very good at something. I remove that root and then replace it with the truth which is, I am an adult and no longer a child, and I am fully capable of achieving this goal. At this point, my self-belief system begins to increase. But I can’t stop there. I need to continue telling myself the truth every time that root thought tries to creep back in until it never comes back. Weeds are hard to keep away. But if you’re persistent enough, they eventually stop growing.

If my self-belief is strong enough, no one will ever need to keep me accountable to my goals. They will be self-fulfilling. No check-ins required. Accountability is only necessary when you don’t believe you can do it. Yes, we all need encouragement. It’s important to hear that you’re doing a good job. But when you believe in yourself enough, that encouragement is just fuel on a fire that you’ve already kept burning. This whole process can feel very introspective. Maybe even a little like a session on the psychologist’s couch. But to be honest, if you’re not experiencing the level of life achievement that you want, then this is what it takes. The famous maxim by Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” basically sums up that point. For the most part, we live unexamined lives. We live a life of ticking boxes. Sweeping things under the rug is what we do best. Being non-confrontational with ourselves and others is the comforter we carry around, but it achieves absolutely nothing. It’s time to make it happen.

But there has to be a balance. We can’t let the pendulum swing so far to the side of introspection or examination and hold it there. So here’s why constant ‘navel-gazing’ doesn’t work. When we identify a cause for wrong thinking, the next step should be to change that thinking and move forward into a more positive and productive future. But what so often happens is, the root is found, and there we stay, staring at this ugly thing that has caused us anxiety and we never attack it with the truth. We just let it sit there, acknowledged, but never reconciled. And so every time we experience a roadblock in life, we can look back at it and blame it. This can also be called a ‘victim mentality.’ If there is no progress in our ‘processing,’ then it can’t be called ‘process’ at all.

Change your thinking, and you’ll change your world. One thought at a time.

Let me end with this premise. Belonging to a loving community is essential when it comes to finding the truth to replace our wrong thinking. Most of the time it feels impossible to deal with the negative thought when no one has ever told you the truth of who you are. Community, family, and friends should be the people that do that for you when you can’t find the truth for yourself.

At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture, and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.