Did you know that all thoughts and feelings are available to you at all times?
If you were to start thinking of something sad you heard about you would start to feel sad. If you now think of something funny that happened you would start to smile and giggle. Your brain doesn’t much distinguish between what is happening and what you think is happening. So laughing at a joke and remembering laughing at that joke will stir the same feelings. If you really get into remembering exactly how it was in the moment you were laughing at the joke you will feel pretty much exactly the same as you did then. You can change your thoughts and feelings simply by choosing what to focus on.
When I recently said this to a group I work with they became very upset with me. They seemed to feel I was telling them their ‘bad’ feeling were not legitimate and that they were doing this thinking thing wrong.
We are very attached to our patterns of thinking because our brain has decided this is how we survive. Challenging our thought patterns is tantamount to throwing ourselves into the unfamiliar wilderness. Our brain and body will leap into alert defensive mode. Our brains do not like The Unknown – it endangers our survival. Our brain is like the president’s body guard, safe, familiar routines make it feel safest. If the president decides to walk through a neighbourhood to shake hands with constituents the bodyguard will do everything in his power to dissuade the president from this action because he doesn’t know what the risks are and if he will be able to do his job of keep the president safe and alive. That’s our brain.
At the same time though, our brain thrives on change and growing and thinking and learning new things. What we don’t use literally atrophies. So, like us, it resists what it needs most.
It’s a funny design. A friend of mine says she’s learned that when she starts to feel defensive, she knows she is onto something that is making her grow. She stops and takes note. I love that. Such an optimistic look at defensiveness 🙂
Seeing as we are so very attached to our familiar thought patterns, when someone like me comes along and says we could change how we choose to think we might become defensive and say, “But the thoughts and feelings I have are legitimate. I have reasons to feel that way.” That may be so. In fact that’s exactly my point – you can feel however you want to feel. All I’m saying here is that we have choice in our thought patterns. If we have choice that means the idea of loving yourself comes into the realm of your thinking too. Right? Choice moments are times when we either turn towards ourselves or away from ourselves, towards loving yourself or not.
Tune in next week to find out more about how this works – but for now, ask yourself whether you are turning towards yourself or away from yourself in the types of thoughts you choose during your day.
And whether you choose thoughts about your children that fill you with love or with anxiety.
What are the effects?
Click here for part 2 of this article