It All Starts With A Thought by Joel White
Every single day of our lives we have thoughts. They are almost a fundamental part of every single human individual. On average, research suggests that we have up to 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day (which is roughly 35 to 48 thoughts per minute). Even as you start to read this article you may having a number of multiple thoughts that seem to be happening all at the same time, or even continuously one after another.
The thoughts we have can be idea-like, memory-like, picture-like, or song-like. They also tend not to last. They also seem to be a constant stream and at times they seem to go quiet and something that you were not even thinking about just randomly pops into your head that you were not even consciously thinking about at given moment in time.
Have you ever actually stopped to think about how powerful your thoughts can be? For example, someone shared a story with me of a group of people that they had got together into a room who were frightened of spiders. The idea was that he was going to use self-hypnosis on the individuals to help them overcome their fear of spiders. As part of the test he connected each individual to a heart rate monitor.
Before they were going to begin the test on the individuals, he showed them an empty cage in which he would place the spiders later. It is at this point that he noticed something quiet profound among the individuals sat in the room. Each individual started to panic as seen by their behavioural reactions and the readings on their heart rate monitors, reacting as if there was a spider in the cage, yet the cage was empty.
Have you ever done the lemon test? For the next bit of my article I want you to read it first and just use your imagination (why not read first, close your eyes and imagine going through the steps for extra effect):
- I want you to imagine that there is a lemon on a plate in front of you with a knife at the side of it
- I want you to imagine picking up the knife and slicing it in half
- I want you to imagine picking up the lemon in your hand and just to hold it for a few seconds
- I want you to imagine bringing the half lemon up to your nose and smelling it
- I want you imagine brining the half lemon up to your lip and jut pressing it gently against your lip
- I want you to imagine putting the half lemon into your mouth and sucking it
So how was that for you?
- Could you actually see the lemon on the plate in front of you with the knife?
- Could you feel its texture in your hand?
- Could you smell it?
- Could you taste it?
For some of these questions you may be answering yes, but yet there is no lemon, plate or knife. It is not real. Hopefully by now you starting to become more aware of how powerful your thoughts can really be in your life.
To some degree we are our own worst enemy in the fact that we just accept things at face value that others tell us or even what we think ourselves, without really testing them out. What’s more once we have this thought in our head, we seem to purposely look for things to reinforce it no matter what and in some case we might even fabricate information in an attempt to get it fit our own thoughts. It must be true right because after all such and such told us or we thought of it first right? So why would we lie to ourselves.
Well the interesting thing is you probably have and after all the word LIE is actually in the word beLIEf. So try this out. Just make a list of say 5 beliefs that you have (these could be about yourself, others or your environment). Now for each belief on your list I want you think about these questions for each one:
- What is your first memory that relates to this belief?
- Did the belief come from you or someone else?
- Have you ever spoken to someone else about the belief that you have?
- What evidence or experience do you have to say that your belief is true?
- Have you ever actually tried it out for yourself to actually test how true the belief is in the first place?
By now, I would hope that you have now started to gain more awareness of the beliefs that you actually hold and the fact that there is very little real evidence to why you actually have them in the first place. Yet all the beliefs you had started with a just one single thought.
When we are thinking about our thoughts it is important to be aware of unhelpful thinking styles that we can adopt that then go on to shape what we know as unhelpful beliefs. Here I leave you with just a few to be aware of:
- All or nothing thinking: Sometimes call black and white thinking: If I am not perfect then I have failed
- Disqualifying the positive: Discounting the good things that have happened
- Should, Could, must: Using critical words that can make us feel guilty or like we have already failed
- Personalisation: Blaming yourself or taking responsibility for something that wasn’t your fault
- Labelling: Assigning labels to ourselves
I hope after reading this article you have a bit more awareness of what is a thought and the influence it can have on your life. Also, remember, if you don’t like what you’re watching, then don’t watch it