The mind is a miracle.
And it can either be our greatest tool or our greatest obstacle.
Have you ever sat down and examined the stream of thoughts that flow through your mind? Where do these thoughts come from? And why are there so many?! Are they true? Does it even matter?
The answer is yes. It matters very much. Everything in our lives is based on the power we give to each thought, either consciously or unconsciously. Thoughts are a form of energy (as is everything), and whatever thoughts we believe in (again, either consciously or unconsciously), become the seeds that end up forming our physical universe.
Interestingly enough, most of our thoughts aren’t even ours to begin with. We inherited them from our lineage and culture, which includes our ancestors, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, teachers, government, public figures, celebrities, colleagues, friends... even the person sitting next to us on the bus talking about how much the economy sucks.
For example, whereas I was born in Los Angeles and believe in the thought that “Peace is possible,” someone who was born in the Middle East may believe in that old negative inherited thought form that says “Peace isn’t possible.” So... which thoughts are ours, and which ones aren’t? This is a good place to begin your examination.
If you take a look at some of the most influential people throughout history, you’ll notice that something they all share in common is one or many thoughts that they believed in with all their soul. For example, Gandhi believed in the thought “Non-violence is the best way to achieve true freedom.” Martin Luther King Jr. believed in the thought that “All men are created equal.” Steve Jobs believed in the thought “I can create a better, more user-friendly computer / mp3 player / phone / tablet thing.” I imagine at some point Jobs must have added, “Yes, and I shall call it the i-Something or other, and every third person on Earth shall purchase it and love it!” Or not.
Some thought forms are warm and fuzzy. But not all. Indeed, a thought doesn’t need to be positive or even “true” in order to be powerful beyond measure. For example, Hitler believed that “The Aryan race is supreme.” Ptolemy believed that “The sun revolves around the Earth.” And the American Medical Association believes “It is unlikely that High-Fructose Corn Syrup contributes more to obesity than other forms of sucrose.”
If a person believes in a thought that goes against nature, love or the higher truths, they are almost certainly going to create a lot of pain for themself and possibly others. For example, if someone believes that “Gravity does not exist,” then that person may walk right off a cliff and make the evening news. Or if someone believes in the thought “The ends justify the means,” then they are going to create the circumstances that put this belief to the test. As you can see, Hitler’s thought created death and destruction the likes of which the world had never seen, and ultimately led to his own death.
As you can see, thoughts are powerful. They shape our world. And so the key is to bring awareness to what thoughts you believe in, because if you are not thriving in life right now, it is highly likely that you currently believe in, or give power to, one or more thoughts that, simply put, are bullshit. You can call these “limiting beliefs.”
Take two artists for example. Let’s say both of them are equally talented and resourceful. However, one artist believes in the thought “I can make a great career selling my artwork,” whereas the other artist believes the thought “The marketplace for art is just too darn competitive.” Both thoughts are true in a sense because both thoughts are going to manifest into physical reality.
The artist who believes he/she can sell their work will likely end up doing so; and the artist who believes in the limiting thought that it’s just too hard to sell his/her work, will create the circumstances to experience exactly that.
If you take some time to examine any areas in your life where you feel stuck or struggling, it is very likely that you will find some limiting beliefs in there somewhere. Some of the most common limiting beliefs include: “I’m not loveable;” “I’m not worth it;” “I’m not good enough;” “I can’t do (fill in the blank)” or “This can’t be done;” “If he/she can’t do it, how can I?;” “I’m alone;” “I won’t find what I’m looking for;” “I’m too old/young/ugly/fat/short/tall/etc.;” “If I try this, I’ll fail and nobody will like me anymore;” “I can’t trust anyone;” “I won’t find the right partner;” “Things won’t work out;” “I’m not safe;” “The world isn’t safe;” “It’s better if I wait;” “I’ll be happy when (such and such occurs);” and so on and so forth.
Byron Katie, author of “Loving What Is,” recognized something about the power of her thoughts. Katie says, “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. Suffering is optional.”
Katie created “The Work,” an easy process we can use to investigate our thoughts. Here is the process. Trace your emotions to the underlying thoughts, and for each thought, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the thought true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react, and what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
Then turn the thought around (find the opposite of the original thought) and see if you can find a few examples of how the new thought is true in your life.
This work is very powerful. Examine your thoughts. Have fun with it. Hunt down and call out the old thoughts that don’t serve you anymore. Be free. And thrive!