We all have like 50 to 80 000 thoughts each day. That means it is really important to choose which thoughts we want to feed and which not.
Feeding thoughts? How can I feed, or not feed, thoughts?
Thoughts pop up. Things trigger thoughts to come up. So, the fact of having thoughts is a given. What we do with it, is our choice.
Why is it so important to manage our thoughts? Because thoughts determine how we feel. Every feeling is the result of a thought. Having nice, positive thoughts will lead to feeling good, and dwelling on negative stuff will bring us down. So, do we then just push negative thoughts aside? No, we let them pop up, recognize it is only a thought, and that it is ours to manage.
Let’s see how this works.
When we have a thought popping up in our mind, it makes us feel a certain way. This can be a mild feeling or it can feel like an eruption of emotions, good or bad. The main thing is, to realize it is only a thought, only an emotion. When a thought results in feeling angry, feeling sad, … any negative feeling, just take a deep breath in, and exhale slowly. Repeat this until the emotion has subsided a bit. Then you’ll see a little clearer and realize you are not in any immediate danger. That’s the moment you are able to make your choice: are you going to feed this thought, meaning, do you want to continue having this strong feeling? Or not. Rethinking the thought over and over again in your mind, adding your own imagination, your own interpretation of the thing you are thinking about, is feeding that thought. And that is your choice. Are you going to keep feeding it? Or are you going to let the thought be what it is, just a thought and decide to have a different thought as there is nothing that you will be changing by rethinking it over and over again.
When of course you are feeling great, then okay just keep that thought dancing around in your head and enjoy the bubbling feeling it is creating in your body. But when it’s an upsetting thought, it is so important to learn you can manage your thoughts. Learning to stop feeding negative thoughts, will keep your out of the treadmill of negative and upsetting thoughts. It will keep you from having endless sleepless nights. It will keep you from making things worse. It will lead you to feeling more in control of your emotions, of your life.
Do we then neglect our true feelings?
No, not at all. We let the thought enter our mind, we recognize having this thought and so we feel what this thought triggers, but then we decide not to feed it. We decide that we will take action if and when action is required, but that we will not dwell on this thought this very moment as it would lead us nowhere. For now, we just let go of the thought. I like the referral to a rocking chair:
Thinking over and over again the same worrisome, upsetting thoughts, is like sitting in a rocking chair. It keeps you busy but it gets you nowhere.
Managing our thoughts not only keeps us from feeling unnecessary worry and upset, it also makes us be more ‘zen’. It becomes a way of looking at life and at things that are happening in life. When you practice this for a while, you’ll notice you can refrain from overreacting in situations you would otherwise have been very upset. This leads to feeling more relaxed. The more you learn how to ‘under react’ instead of overreacting in life, the more you’ll feel your stress levels dropping drastically. Whenever a negative thought enters your mind, take several deep breaths, know it is only a thought and by actively letting go of that thought, the feeling triggered by that thought will subside and you’ll find peace of mind again. Choose to let go and replace the thought with a more neutral one.
Why would you want to learn how to manage your thoughts?
In today’s world where we are bombarded with all kinds of input: non-stop news, a tsunami of social media networks, events, work, friends and family, … I think it is very important for our health, both physically and emotionally, to know how to handle all this. The more you can refrain from working yourself up into a frenzy of thoughts buzzing around in your head, the healthier and more relaxed you’ll be. Less stress, less sleepless nights, less turmoil in your head, less high blood pressure and all kinds of physical ailments that originate from being too stressed all the time.
Not only you will benefit from this new way of handling things, but also the people around you as there will be less conflict thanks to less overreacting, and less heated discussions which we all feel bad about afterwards because we then realize we were all overreacting and have said things we regret afterwards.
I wish you all the calm and the courage to learn how to practice managing your thoughts so that you can stop feeding disturbing thoughts and enjoy life to the fullest.
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