The Important Role of Thoughts
Let’s take some time to talk about thinking.
Thoughts play a huge role in how we understand and experience our lives. Their importance has been recognized in recent years especially in relation to psychology and spirituality. Thoughts are the smallest increments of action that we can consciously manage and they occur continuously throughout the day. Even though there is far more evidence today about the impact of thoughts on a person’s wellbeing, it can still be difficult to grasp on a personal level how significant it can be to understand and work with your own thought process, but that is something I want to re-emphasize here today.
Thoughts are significant, if you could change nothing else about your experience except your way of thinking, your life and the lives of the people around you would still change dramatically.
Thoughts and Your Internal Self
To illustrate the role that thinking plays on your experience more effectively it can help to use the analogy of the human body, in which thoughts make up the cells. If each cell is healthy and functioning to its fullest capacity and purpose then the body will be healthy—each system will be functioning to its fullest capacity and the overall experience will be one of wellbeing. If the cells become ill and cease to function effectively you end up with cancer. Another analogy that can be helpful, which is used more frequently in law of attraction circles, is that thoughts are like the steering wheel of a ship. Incremental changes in the direction of the wheel lead to large directional shifts of the vehicle over time. Managing your thoughts effectively allows you to direct where you want your life to go, leaving your thoughts unmanaged leaves you drifting in the ocean at the mercy of the tides, storms, and others who might come and hijack the wheel. Using either analogy you can understand that though an individual thought is small and automatic, the quality and direction of your thinking overall can make a huge difference on your life.
I would like to point out that in the analogies above I talk about “managing” your thoughts and not “controlling” them. This is because you cannot actually control your thoughts and often trying to control them directly leads to an oppositional reaction which causes you to feel less in control. A common example used to illustrate this is if I were to tell you NOT to think about an orange. As soon as you read the previous sentence you thought about an orange. You couldn’t help it or control it. In the same way, if you tried to directly control your thoughts—especially if you did so by trying NOT to think about certain things you would end up increasing the amount of time you spent thinking about what you were trying to avoid. Additionally, controlling thoughts gets difficult because the majority of thoughts are unconscious. Most thinking happens instantly in response to stimuli and they do not always take word form or have enough overt significance for us to become fully aware of them.
Rather than trying to control your thoughts it can be helpful to work on directing your focus. Doing this is equivalent to looking in the general direction you want your thoughts and life to go and allowing those thoughts to line up with that direction naturally over time. If you are interested in more detailed information about how to work with your thoughts let me know. I might have a couple resources brewing in the future.
Thoughts and Your Environment
It is well established in the worlds of psychology and spirituality that thoughts make a huge difference in how you experience your own life. Cognitive techniques are often employed by therapists to help clients manage anxiety, depression, and even some aspects of psychotic illness. In spirituality directing thought is the primary tool for enhancing your relationship with the law of attraction and for improving your vibration to call in more positive experiences. However, one of the things that tends to be focused on with less intensity is the way that your thoughts also impact your environment.
We can easily see that thoughts influence us internally by shaping our perspective of things, but we don't always realize that thoughts are also carriers of energy and energy influences other sources of energy. It can be helpful to imagine life as a design on the surface of water (I’m adding a video of suminagashi below to use as a reference for a visual metaphor).
Each thought carries a little bit of color and movement with it and when it is added to this design it influences it both by becoming part of it and by bouncing off what is already present to re-shape it. Since thoughts have an energetic quality they create energetic ripples in the environment, which impacts everyone and thing in that environment to some degree.
Some people are more sensitive to the impact of thoughts and energies than others, but even if you are not super sensitive, you are usually able to notice if someone nearby is directing thoughts with really strong intensity—usually if someone is really angry at or defensive towards you or really attracted to you. Without that person having to say or do anything specific you can generally sense their feelings towards you. Feelings and thoughts tend to run together, so the feeling they are producing will generally give you an idea of the direction of their thoughts. You don't have to be aware of the impact of thoughts, for them to matter though. Even if you don't pick up on the influences of thought and energy the impact is still made. It’s the same way that we don’t need to be aware of the exact nutrients in the food we eat for it to shape the way our body functions. With this in mind, consider that thoughts do not only shape your inner perception of life events, they actually shape your external environment as well.
Sit with this for a minute to let it sink in.
Thoughts have an impact. They change things. Managing your thoughts can help you manage your inner environment, but it can also improve your relationship with your outer environment—especially with the people closest to you. If you want, you could test this out and see the difference yourself. It is easier to do this if you have experience managing your thoughts through meditation and other focus exercises but you can do test this by spending five to ten minutes a day focusing on all your favorite qualities about someone in your life, preferably someone that you currently have fairly neutral feelings with, for about a month. During this time think about the things you like best about the person and why you are glad they are a part of your life. Then take note of how that person interacts with you. Chances are you will notice a more positive, favorable response.
With practice you can apply this to people that you have more strenuous relationships with as well and you will be able to see an even larger degree of change, but do this with caution because it takes greater awareness of thoughts and focus. The reason it is harder to apply positive thinking to people you have a contentious relationship with is because of how quickly thoughts respond to previous experiences. Starting off by thinking of someone that you are already not fond of can create the opposite effect because if you have not worked on unwinding previous thought patterns then the simple act of remembering that person will likely flood you with negative thoughts that run both consciously and subconsciously. These can over run the conscious positive thoughts and hijack the entire process.
There is already a lot of information out there about the power of thoughts and at times it can seem superfluous and overstated, but part of the reason that understanding and working with the power of your own thoughts is stressed so much is because it is effective. It is not easy to get to a level of mastery with your thoughts that produces some of the miraculous experiences that you hear about in some spiritual circles, but even if you improve your ability to work with your thoughts a little bit, you can improve your ability to move through life and improve the energetic atmosphere around you. This is why becoming aware of your thoughts and learning to work with them is so important. It is also a skill that will become increasingly more important because people are becoming more sensitive to these subtle energetic messages. There are more people alive today that can perceive the effects of these thoughts energetically than in previous times and more children likely to be born in the coming years who are impacted by the quality of the thought environments that they come in contact with. This means that learning how to create healthier thought and energetic environments will become more necessary with time because the effects of not doing so will become more obvious and painful.
With this in mind, if you are not already at this point, now is a great time to become more aware of your own thoughts and to start noticing the way thoughts shape the environment around you. It is also a great time to learn about and practice techniques that can help you work with and shift your thoughts (meditation is a foundational skill for this). If you would like resources to help you work with your thoughts please reach out and let me know, also if you want to work one on one check out the about page for more information (conversations with an objective third party person are a great way to learn about blind spots in your perception and can be helpful for reframing to create new thought patterns).
I am planning on creating another post in the coming weeks with a more detailed overview of thoughts and how to work with them, so if this is a topic of interest for you keep your eye out for that.
I hope that you are having a great week so far. Thank you for reading.