Our mind constantly produces thoughts that we have little to no control over.
Even when we sleep it continues to operate, producing what we call dreams. Most of our dreams are random and bizarre, not making much logical sense due to the fact that we are unconscious.
What’s interesting is that if you take the time to pay attention to your thoughts while conscious, you’ll notice that they also don’t make much sense most of the time and that the majority of them don’t serve us very well.
We are naturally wired to believe our thoughts to be true.
We fail to see the separation between the thought itself and our awareness of it, we are simply the thought, fully immersed in it.
But in reality, we are not our thoughts. As Eckhart Tolle put it, “You are not the thought, you are the awareness.”
This statement has profound implications.
Rather than mindlessly subscribing to the thoughts that we produce (on average, 80% of them being negative) and constantly feeding them more fuel through our focus of attention on them (up to 95% of our thoughts are repetitive) we can build a habit of putting them under further scrutiny.
We can analyze the whispers that persist in the background as well as the louder ones at the forefront of our minds and make a conscious decision and effort to not identify with all of them.
We can question them and become more curious as to why they exist, and over time we can start to see the truth that our thoughts aren’t always the truth.
By recognizing a thought and using reasoning to not further feed into it, the thought will inevitably weaken and subdue (this can save us from a lot of the unnecessary pain and suffering).
It’s when we let our thoughts run wild and ungoverned that they get to dictate who we are.
The power is in our hands to choose whether a thought is serving us or hurting us, and if it’s the latter we can use our awareness to shut them down and not believe ourselves to be those thoughts as they arise.
Our thoughts are not always accurate and fact and we aren’t required to believe in all of them. They are simply a perpetually running machine of perceptions and impressions mostly out of our control and much too powerful to limit.
What we can do is create an environment where we start to notice the separation between us and them, and the incredible ability we have to decide to not believe all of them. Within this realm, we can feed the ones that we gain positive benefit from and discard the rest to naturally leave on their own (the effort it takes to strengthen a negative thought is the same amount of exertion it takes to reinforce a positive one).
Ultimately, this provides us with more headspace for thoughts that we can leverage to lead much happier and fulfilling lives.
Your life is a painting and you’re the painter. You may not know what exactly the painting will end up looking like, but you can choose what colors you will use to paint the canvas with.
Below is a little poem I wrote to recap the article.
The thoughts are ceaseless,
The identification is absolute,
Yet the choice is ours to decide the truth.
We can feed what’s right and push aside what’s wrong,
We can begin to fine tune the thought machine to the beat of our own song.
So today is the start of no longer identifying with,
All the negativity that makes our life drift.
And instead replace it with focus on the positive and good,
So that the journey is filled with beauty, love and a happy livelihood.
“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius