Have you ever heard the saying “Be mindful of your thoughts”?
I used to have a boss say it to me all the time and honestly, the concept really challenged me.
I would drive myself crazy trying to work this out.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not simple nor a slow learner. I could figure things out quite quickly. It wasn’t understanding the concept itself that was driving me crazy but rather, the practical undertaking.
Having served in the Army in my earlier years, discipline was not so much an issue for me. However, when someone tells me not to think of pink elephants, do you want to know what the first thought that pops into my head is?
Herein lies the problem with being mindful of your thoughts. Unless you are on guard every waking moment, you are going to have thoughts drift periodically into your mind. I spent the longest time trying to control and regulate every thought that ever popped into my head. Needless to say, I was often mentally exhausted.
Even a highly trained or disciplined mind experiences the touch of random thoughts here and there.
The real kicker in being human is that you don’t always necessarily get to choose those thoughts. Sure, the mind is a wonderful tool when utilized properly. Yet it will still wander like even a well trained dog if left sitting unattended for too long.
So many Coaches today focus on being mindful of the thoughts… on controlling the very nature of the thoughts.
Here’s the other problem associated with being mindful of the thoughts: What is being mindful? You are using the same tool that is doing the thinking to control the thought.
“Don’t mind that thought… It’s okay. But THIS one needs to go”.
Who is picking and choosing? This is very much akin to a thief telling you he is honest. The complications that arise from using the mind to observe the mind are baffling at best.
So as a Coach that doesn’t really prescribe to the concept of being mindful of one’s thoughts, where do I personally stand?
Thoughts will ALWAYS come and go, even in a highly trained and well disciplined mind. The thoughts themselves actually have very little power. If they had power in and of themselves, we’d have pink elephants popping into reality every time someone said the words “pink elephant”.
What we need to be mindful of is how we FEEL about the thoughts. This is actually where the power comes from. You see, the mind is a tool that draws cartoons. It sketches ideas. It creates images for us. (Of course it does a great deal more but we’re covering the basics here).
These cartoons, ideas and images are purely two dimensional until we infuse them with our emotions. This is the process of breathing life into them.
So here’s the trick:
Thoughts can come and go all day long. You can sit your entire life and allow thoughts to come and go as they please without having a single problem. Of course, you won’t get much done if you don’t reign them in a little, but they won’t cause you much of a problem regarding anything else.
Until that one thought…
You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one that triggers an emotional reaction in you. It’s the thought that has always been a sore point because of this event or that situation from your past. NOW that you’re emotionally engaging with the thought process, mindfulness becomes VERY IMPORTANT!
Although the mind cannot really be effectively used to be mindful of its own thought processes, it CAN be used as a very effective tool regarding the emotions.
Once we start becoming emotional about our thoughts, we are breathing life into them. We are bolting a turbo charger onto them. They are being given permission to come alive. Suddenly the cartoons, the ideas and the images become very three dimensional with us.
This is what you would refer to as thought forms. This isn’t new aged mambo jumbo but rather a very real phenomena of emotionally charged thoughts, empowered because of our attachment to them on an emotional level.
Whether our emotional reaction is favorable or not matters nothing to the process. Any time we actively engage our emotions by reacting to a thought, we are breathing life to the thought.
Be mindful of how you FEEL about your thoughts!
The thoughts can come and go all day long without any harm or hindrance. If you are able to think a thought and remain emotionally non-attached to it, you can think whatever you want. Why waste so much energy and exhaust yourself preventing this thought and blocking that one, when you can instead, focus that energy and effort into becoming emotionally mature and responsible.
If emotional responsibility eludes you regardless of your efforts, reach out for a free breakthrough call with Hug Your Chaos: