We are often unaware of how powerful our thoughts can be.
We feel something, get in a mood, dwell on a thought that creates negative emotions and don’t know how to get ourselves out of it.
We aren’t taught growing up that thoughts are actually what create our emotions, drive our beliefs and determine how we experience life. We usually think life just happens to us (and often it seems to) – and that we’re left to just react to it.
What if we could change how we experience our lives? What if we could have the power to actually create our lives?
Most of us follow a path that has been laid out by culture, society, our family’s expectations, circumstances. And we admire those few who seem to find the strength to rise up and do something different. Break the pattern. Break the mold. They seem to drive their lives instead of letting life drive them.
How do they do it? They’re not smarter, better, luckier or have more advantages. So what makes them different?
They chose to focus on what they do want and not on how things are now. They start to think new and different thoughts. Thoughts they haven’t thought before. Thoughts no one around them may have had or been allowed to have. Those thoughts lead to new possibilities as they re-imagine what is possible for them.
They start to dwell on what is possible. Open to something bigger, better, more rewarding in life. And as they focus on thinking thoughts that support that possibility, they start taking steps towards it. One step leads to another and soon they are creating a new experience. One that they want.
This is how you change your life.
Not by wishing and then convincing yourself why it’s not possible.
By thinking. By choosing to think new thoughts. And by choosing to let go of limiting thoughts.
What are limiting thoughts?
Those thoughts that keep you where you are, where you’ve always been and that keep you in the status quo. Thoughts that rise from the limit of beliefs the people around you in your upbringing held. Beliefs about what is possible and what’s not.
We often see a belief as something stronger than us. A belief is just a thought that you keep thinking. And you can change what you think.
How? By paying attention to the thoughts that are creating your life now.
- Begin by taking time to reflect on what it is you are thinking about around an area of your life you’d like to change. Ask yourself: what thoughts do I have about this? Write down on paper a list of every thought you have about that topic. All the reasons you can or can’t change. What you heard as a child about it. What your neighborhood tends to think. What your religion says about it.
- Examine each item on your list and start asking questions. Ask yourself: how do I know this thought is true? What if it wasn’t true for me? Where did this thought come from? Is it what I really believe or what I was raised to believe? And ultimately, does this thought still serve me and the life I want to have?
- Make a list of new thoughts. Write down what you would like to experience. What would you need to believe to experience it? Start asking: “what if” for all things positive. Instead of immediately assuming it can’t happen or you can’t do it, start counter-attacking those thoughts with: what if I could? what if it happened easily? what if it was like ‘this’ [fill in your desired experience]?
- Pay attention to how each thought makes you feel. Does the thought make you feel empowered or powerless? Does it make you feel lighter or heavier? Thoughts that feel good and create a sense of positive feelings are ones that are life-giving to you.
- Start focusing on what you do want to experience, not on what you don’t. Imagine it just as you would like it to be. Vision it for five minutes or so each day. Pay attention to those limiting thoughts and when they come up, say “thank you, but no thank you” to them and then choose to replace the thought with one that supports what you do want.
The old thoughts are going to keep raising their heads because they want to keep you safe and resist change. Keep working through them. Know that it’s normal to experience resistance and those old thought patterns are strong because they’ve been practiced so much and are easy to think. Don’t give up. Keep replacing them with thoughts that support what you want to experience. Keep choosing your new thoughts and beliefs.
Do not dwell on how things are now or the fact that you are not experiencing your desired state right now. Thoughts vibrate as energy and they attract like energy to them. That’s why when we think one discouraging thought, pretty soon we find ourselves in a bad mood and thinking more thoughts that make us feel even worse. And that’s also why it’s so hard to get out of a bad mood. We’ve “pulled in” thought after thought that supports the energy of the first thought. Breaking the mood takes stopping the thought pattern and choosing a different one.
Does this process take some effort? Yes. But far less energy than it takes to keep feeling stuck and discouraged and powerless.
Does this process work on trauma? Trauma can alter the way the brain experiences emotion and thought-processes. But much of traditional therapy approaches focus on treating the patient in a dis-empowered state and do not connect the traumatized person to their own inner power and ability to create. Trauma is powerful and must be respected, yes. But I believe the human spirit is yet more powerful. I believe nothing can be lost and perhaps everything be gained by examining what it is we think and, therefore believe, and choosing to change our perspective to one that allows us to experience a life that feels better.
Shifting thought patterns can open up new worlds of possibility and new states of being.
For more information on how to shift your thoughts and how thought works to create experience check out Mike Dooley’s life-changing book Infinite Possibilities.