I want to give you you a quick and powerful visual representation of why your thoughts are not apples for apples, because they are not created equally, and some are clearly more beneficial to you than others.
Let's start by taking a look at the accompanying image.
If I were to invite you to eat either of these two apples, which one would you choose?
You'd choose the one of the left, right? No doubt because it's healthy, ripe and packed full of goodness; which will further enrich your life and promote healthy growth.
The apple on the right is clearly decaying, holds little to no nutritional value. may even be infested with bugs, and could make you sick if you consume it. These really are not controversial assumptions to make.
So now let's apply this simple logic to your thoughts and thinking patterns.
DO YOU DRIVE, OR ARE YOU DRIVEN?
How do you select which thoughts to accept and live with, and which thoughts to discard? Do you have a conscious selection process? Are you consciously aware of choosing or discarding your thoughts based on their merits, or are you flung around by your thoughts like a loose caboose? Do you drive your thoughts, or do they drive you?
Do you have any idea how powerful you are? Yes, even you; before you flood the zone with negative self-talk. You see, the power I just mentioned resides inside of you as a birthright. No one has to give it to you, it's yours from the outset. You were born with the right to select one (positive) thought over another (negative one), but slowly over the years perhaps you have unintentionally, and imperceptibly, relinquished that power; now tending to wrestle whatever random thoughts hurl themselves at you. Does that sound familiar?
If you just answered 'no' that's great, keep doing what you're doing and you need read no further. But if you answered 'yes', then let's keep going.
What I'd like you to strive for from now on, is to keep the accompanying image of apples at the forefront of your mind. Then, when something unpleasant happens, you have a reference to help you select a healthy, ripe and nutritious thought, over an unhelpful and unresourceful alternative. Would an example help? Okay, let's do this!
FIGHT, FLIGHT OR...
The postman delivers a letter with some unwelcome news. Due to circumstances beyond your control, a recently discovered computer miscalculation now means you owe Organisation A £1250.
To accept the rotten and unresourceful thoughts leaves you feeling angry, worried about finding the money, and perhaps even a little rebellious, e.g.: "They're not getting a penny out of me because this wasn't my fault!"; before shoving the issue to one side in an attempt to ignore responsibility. This is a knee jerk reaction not a response (there's a difference), and one which will devour your cognitive energy, before leading you into unnecessary states of stress and anxiety. This situation, which has resulted in a £1250 debt, is not just going to go away, and has the capacity to snowball into a much bigger problem for you. Your unconscious mind knows this and will whittle away in the background until the matter is resolved, and if this takes a long time, then you've created an environment in which mental fatigue can flourish.
If such negative thoughts throw themselves at you habitually, first acknowledge them for what they are: impulsive, reactive defense mechanisms, designed to protect you from unpleasant things. Well, that's just fine if you've hopped back into the prehistoric era and you're being stalked by a sabre-tooth tiger, but thing's aren't nearly that dire in this context. What you do first is call out your initial thoughts as over-reactionary and unhelpful, because they are. How does getting 'into a flap' solve anything? It doesn't. You become a hamster on a wheel, spinning faster but getting nowhere, so you need to interrupt your unresourceful thought patterns.
The thing is, as a species, our operating systems are about 200,000 years out of date, and so the fight or flight reactions our ancestors relied upon to survive, are equally out of date. Honestly, we update our phones and devices more than we do ourselves, but that's another blog for another day. In this situation you need to breathe. Yes, breeeeathe. By breathing slowly, mindfully and deeply you're able to sneak up behind your 'due an update' unconscious mind and fool it into thinking everything is safe and okay. Think about it. When your unconscious mind realises you have the luxury of time to breathe slowly, mindfully and deeply, and that blood, sweat and oxygen need not be diverted to your extremities to help you fight or take flight from a tiger, then reason is given the head space required to make better decisions.
Acknowledge any initial hot-headed, panicky or unresourceful thoughts and deliberately discard them as you would the manky apple. Think about the look of disgust there'd be on your face if I insisted you eat the manky apple. Can you imagine the fetid smell of decay, how slimy and sour the manky apple would taste in your mouth, as you worriedly examined what looks like insect burrows in the rotting apple flesh? Eww! Well, that's how I'd like you to respond to your future negative and unresourceful thoughts from now on, before pivoting decisively to healthier alternative thoughts.
Upon acknowledging the presence of your initial thoughts as 'reflexive' and 'unhelpful', you can now consider and decide upon a better strategy whilst breathing slowly and deeply. This is the point at which you buy time and search your intellect for wisdom. This is the point at which you press Pause. Whilst in Pause mode, start with the end in mind and reverse engineer the challenge. Ask yourself: "What outcome do I want?" rather than wallowing in what you don't want. Then ask yourself: "Why do I want that outcome?" to ensure the ecology of the solution is in alignment with who you truly are, and what your ultimate objective is, before considering: "What do I have to do - and by when - to achieve that objective?"
Instead of fighting or 'flighting' (so to speak), freeze. Pause. Breathe. And of course, think. Too many people react automatically, without a single nod of acknowledgement towards the likely consequences and outcomes. By freezing and breathing - by practicing the Pause - you're allowing intelligent solutions to seep in between your more reactionary thoughts and reflexes. And the quieter you are, the more you'll hear. This is how you override your bossy, automatic and habitual negative thought patterns, simply by being aware that they're there in the first instance, what they are exactly, that they have no control over you unless you imbue them with power, and that it's your birthright to ditch them like the manky apple; because your thoughts are not apples for apples. Some are good for you, some are bad for you but you always get to decide which ones you're going to consume, digest and live with.
STRIVE FOR THIS
For the next seven days, when on the precipice of reacting with thoughts, beliefs and behaviours like you always have, catch yourself on and choose an apple. Which apple would you prefer; the great and good or the manky and fetid? Now choose your corresponding thought patterns; great and good or manky and fetid. Do you choose to breathe, pause and move forward towards your desired outcome (despite the work that may entail), or do you choose to spin and get nowhere other than further into trouble? The choice is yours, it's up to you. The choice is your birthright, you don't need to seek permission from others about which thoughts to select. Besides, who among the people you know, would encourage you to choose the manky and fetid options? Why would they do that? Why are such people in your life? Why have you relinquished your power to them?
Once the initial seven days are up, reflect. What have you done well? Are there any areas in need of a little more attention or practice? What will you do differently - better - next week? How do you feel? Stronger or weaker for having empowered yourself in this way? What benefits are you looking forward to enjoying this time next week, having refined your technique a little more? Where, and how, do you visualise your progress in a month from now? Two months? Six months? A year? What will you be wearing? What will the weather be like that day? Who will be with you as you celebrate? What else do you notice going on around you, as you visualise the future you're promising yourself?
Literally everything created in this world started as a thought in someone's mind, before it was birthed it into reality. You know this is a universal truth, but have perhaps lost the thread in your immediate grasp for a while. That's perfectly understandable, it happens to us all, but now this truth has been reintroduced, don't let it become estranged from you again; hold on more tightly and purposefully. Why? Because now you've visualised a future which shows you enjoying the benefits of your new and healthier thinking processes, you know your desired outcomes can become a reality. If you've seen it (in your mind's eye) you can achieve it in the real world, because a nifty little process called Structural Tension is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is essentially programme (visualise in minute detail) what you want (as you would e.g.: creating a Spotify playlist) and let the app (your unconscious mind) play it all out for you automatically.
WHAT IS STRUCTURAL TENSION?
Just briefly: Structural tension is created when your unconscious mind identifies a discrepancy between your visualised desired outcomes, and your current reality. Once your unconscious mind has identified this discrepancy, it will work tirelessly to close the gap between what you want and your current reality. It really is as powerful a force of manifestation as it is obedient, and for more about Structural Tension, and the Reticular Activating System, please read my earlier blog entitled: How Your Reticular Activating System Works - And Why You Want To Know.
For now though, you have enough to be getting on with. Should you have any questions of queries, please feel free to contact me and we can discuss this further, but in the meantime, be great!