I once gave a talk entitled, ‘Unlock the possibilities – open the front door of your thinking’ and thought the title is a good start to this mental blog.
The brain is like a house with doors that need keys for access. Thinking begins in the front part of the brain. When you let yourself in to good and logical reasoning, you enjoy growth and progress. The world of possibilities open up to you. This includes the ability to be inventive – to fix something that isn’t working properly.
The trouble with the brain is, like a house, it can be threatened by break-ins. With any break-ins, the peace is threatened and the property can be destroyed. It takes time and effort to restore the place to its original order and to be reminded that the place is safe again. Negative experiences, a lack of support, overwhelming challenges and losses in life are unwelcome intruders but the reality is they do happen in one’s life. The key is not to let them have unbarred entry into our space.
“The most important things in life
are the thoughts you choose to frame.”
Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor.
“The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness;
But of everyone that is hasty only to want.”
Proverbs 21:5, the Bible
Two things the diligent can do to take care of and thrive in their thoughts:
- Tapping therapeutic thoughts
Thoughts that are therapeutic make you feel healthy and hopeful. The more you tap into them, the more dendrites your brain will grow and the more you can think new and therapeutic thoughts. A penny for your thought – it’s important to know what thoughts you are tapping into!
It’s good practice to think of truthful things and being truthful yourself. Your mind gets nourished when you reflect on promises that are made and kept in good faith. “Considered done when I shake your hands,” someone said the other day. People like this make you think well of this world especially when the handshake really result in a done deal. It inspires me to be the person who wants to stay true to my promise, my words, my character. When my motives are pure, my thoughts will be clear and my relationship with people will be sincere.
Think of lovely and admirable things, things that bring good reports. You can train your mind to attend to things that are worthy of your thought. Therapeutic thoughts spring from the study of good things. Do tap into therapeutic thoughts and occupy your brain with an exhaustive catalogue of good things.
Speak and think well of events and people, not gossipping and ruminating. Remind yourself of dwelling on the strengths and goodness of people and the joy of hanging out with them. Remember the times of hospitality where you have been well-treated, not the rude and obnoxious service. And talk about the excellence of the multiple good treatment you received, not repeat and repeat the old story of how your food didn’t come on time. Reflect on lovable, pleasing, auspicious things and people often. Read affirming and life-changing books like autobiographies, sacred writings etc. Your brain needs such input to thrive.
Think therapeutically consistently. New healthy thoughts can be cultivated. You will grow to like your thoughts and enjoy life better.
- Terminating toxic thoughts
Any thought is toxic when it sabotages you from experiencing peace and happiness. Especially destructive are thought patterns that are conditioned because of your past or by choice and habit. They break in to your mind and cause you to be discouraged.
Be aware of the break-ins toxic thought patterns can cost you in your quality of life. Imagine yourself predicting the scenarios to come to these conclusions:
“ People are staring at me.” “I feel inadequate.” “I feel the pressure to perform.”
“I am going to get fired.” “ I am a bad worker.” “I will never get a job.”
You will be insecure in your job and personal life if you let these thoughts run wild and form negative associations.
‘Take no thought’ (TNT) is a good way to terminate toxic thinking. The more weight you give to toxic thinking, the more they will affect you negatively.
Toxic thinking sometimes amplify the effect to make you worried and exasperated. Bring it down to size or give it a reality check so that the thought doesn’t overwhelm you:
“People stare at me. They mean no harm; they are curious, not cruel; they are interested, not judgemental.”
“I am not fired yet!”
“But if I do get fired, there may be other reasons besides I being a bad worker. I can find that out.”
“ It doesn’t mean I will not get another job. That’s overgeneralising. It’s not the most pleasant feeling to be out of job but it’s not the end of the world.”
After having rationalised the situation and seeing realistic perspectives, take no thought (TNT) about it. Terminate it! Change the way you think about toxic situations. “ It’s too hard,” you may say. But what are the advantages of hanging on to gloom and doom thinking? Probably none. It’s better to postpone the worry till the actual situation happens and then deal with it. Sometimes the imagined situation doesn’t even come!
When it’s time for caterpillars to spin a chrysalis, some of them would resist and try and cling on to their larval life. As a result, they won’t spin a cocoon till the following year. This state of clinging is called diapause, a period of suspended development. Holding on to what is familiar deprives the caterpillar of the potential of reproduction.
Responses to toxic thoughts can be very automatic conditioned by many years of repetition. Clinging on to the old patterns seems easier to do but it can result in a delay of possibilities. For your optimum mental self-care — Unlock all possibilities – open the front door of your thinking!