No matter where we are on our personal growth journey, there is always room for improvement when it comes to disciplining our mind. The mind-work is never done.
It is estimated that people talk to themselves–either subconsciously or out-loud–at the rate of approximately 50 to 300 words per minute. Research says that on average we have 65,000 thoughts each day, and that 95% of those thoughts are reoccurring. Much of this is self-talk or inwardly directed chatter.
Although it may go unnoticed, each thought creates a physical response. The thoughts being had create emotions and automatic responses in the body which significantly affect our physical health and mental well-being. Whether we are feeling happy or upset will be dependent on what thoughts we are thinking. And effects such as accelerated heart rate and changes in blood pressure can be measured as we think certain thoughts.
Essentially our mind is constantly running, thinking repetitive thoughts (the same thoughts that we had yesterday, and the day before that) and our body and emotions are strongly triggered by them. Clearly, this makes how we think and what we think extremely important.
Years ago my personal journey was triggered by symptoms in my body which my first teacher quickly helped me trace with precision, right to my mind.
At first I was so identified with my thoughts that I could not really see them. My thoughts seemed to be me, and I didn’t feel like I had any power over them. I had been living a life at the mercy of my undisciplined mind, without even realizing it.
I spent many years focused on taming my wild and rebellious mind. And in the process I learned that being my own mental-manager was absolutely essential to co-creating a desirable reality.
When I become preoccupied with life, however, I can temporarily lose consciousness in this area for days at a time. Sometimes I snap-to only to find myself in the midst of racing thoughts, obsessive mental patterns and irrational fears.
For the past few months while navigating a great deal of transition and some very new terrain, I found that I had indeed slipped into a jaded state of mind. Spinning wildly on the wheel of randomized ideas and unruly self-talk, my mind was in a state of negative looping.
As I began my mental-monitoring, I saw that I was continually framing neutral or potentially amazing things in unnecessarily negative ways. I had allowed myself to become over-tired, un-centered, and in a state of overwhelm–and as a result, disorderly thought systems were taking root in my un-tended mind.
Negative thoughts grow like weeds. Left unmanaged, wild and obsessive sprouts can begin to take hold in the soil of the mind. I knew that I had to get the pruning shears out—and fast. I immediately dusted off the most powerful mind-tool in my holistic box and began tending to my precious mental garden.
The Thought-Flipping Process
Thought flipping is an advanced form of mind monitoring and management. This practice accepts that our thoughts are powerful and we can choose them. Then it wastes no time.
As soon as negative thought-patterns are identified, a silent alarm sounds. The observer of the thought then steps in with absolute authority and re-programs the mind by flipping the thought on its head, and thinking the exact opposite.
Once a pattern of strong pessimism about a particular aspect of life is identified for example, the observer flips it in that moment, and chooses optimism. It is the art of taking back the powerful domain of the mind without wasting time giving the weed-thought any consideration or valuable energy.
At first the mind will rebel in defense of the negative thought by alerting the observer of how the flipped thought is ridiculous and could not possibly be true. With thought-flipping, however, the observer’s immediate response back to the mind is direct and commanding. The mind is reminded that it’s former thought was, at the very least, as lousy and untrue as the new, flipped one—and as it’s conscious and intelligent Master the observer chooses what is true.
Rewriting Your Mental Script
It is human nature to think negatively about others or ourselves from time to time. However, unchecked and frequent negative brain chatter can leave us feeling out of control. A train of thought that is directed towards yourself which undermines you or what you are trying to accomplish, is negative-thinking. Such spiraling thoughts are the most effective way to self-sabotage.
Take these ideas, for example:
Every day at work you think: “I am so stressed out because I don’t work as fast as the others at my job, which makes me feel like I am less than those around me, and that at some point I am going to be fired.” This thought can be healed by changing it to: “I appreciate that I take my time doing my job according to my own rhythm which allows me to express my unique genius, and my boss should value that attribute in me, because in the end I always deliver big.”
When you turn it around, you realize that either thought can be true. It is always possible, and even likely, that the negative version which you are obsessively perpetuating is incorrect.
Often times our thoughts don’t even make sense. Take this common pattern for example: “I missed an entire week of yoga, so I might as well skip today too and give up the whole idea of exercise completely, because I have no self-discipline.” Flipping this thought changes it to be more healthy and accurate: “I honored my feelings and took a needed break from yoga last week, so I am going to take an intense yoga class today because I am truly committed to the idea of feeling good in mind and body.”
A way to transform a thought is to change the wording. Your thoughts can be wrong, and you can re-write them. Which one do you want to be true? You get to choose.
Taking Charge of Your Mind-Stuff
Once you’ve identified a serial negative thought that continues popping into your mind making you feel fearful, sad, uncomfortable, depressed, or hopeless, try the following thought-flipping ritual:
=> Write the thought down on paper and take a good look at it
=> Do you know this thought is true?
=> Does this thought serve you?
=> Write down the opposing thought which counters the negative thought
=> Change the wording of the thought in a way that heals it
=> Every time you find yourself thinking the original habitual thought pattern, catch yourself, and continuously replace it with the new flipped thought
This technique is a process of offering the antidote for the problematic thinking pattern each time it appears. By flipping the thought, it is cured. You are healing your mind-stuff thought by thought, thus co-creating a reality with deliberate intent.
How Will Your Garden Grow?
Acknowledging that we can choose our thoughts is taking back a great deal of power. Becoming aware of our thoughts allows us to look at them. When we look at them, we are removed from them; there is space between us and the thought.
When there is space between us and our thoughts, we identify with them less. When we identify with our thoughts less, we can decide if a thought is true, whether a thought serves us, and if there is a better thought that is more aligned with our true nature and highest desires.
And then we can determine what our mind will be filled with 65,000 times a day.
Our world is made from mind-stuff. Taking the step of conscious co-creation by monitoring our mind, weeding our mental garden, and planting good thought-seeds, will ensure that we like what blooms.