Taking command of your thoughts is the next step when it comes to mastering inner work. I’ve found this approach to be powerful antidote for a mind that is in the habit of spiralling into negative self-talk. Much more so than methods tailored to quieten the mind.
As mentioned in my previous post, meditation only amplified the chaos occurring between my ears. Without an external task to focus on, my mind latched onto every passing negative thought. Past hurts were relived and scrutinised. Future prospects were foreseen through the lens of every possible worst-case scenario. It wasn’t until I mastered all aspects of inner work, that my mind’s incessant plotting and scheming to control the outcome abated.
Learning methods that allowed me to identify and process old trauma helped me to release the past, but I realised that I also needed to find a way to take command of my thoughts and develop a more positive outlook on life.
Research and first hand experience, taught me that the quality of your thoughts is derived from external, internal and mechanical factors. I learnt that if you want to positively influence your mindset, it’s important to take command of these three aspects.
External factors include media (written, audio or video), people, places and things. What you read, watch or listen to influences your mood and how you think. So do the people you associate with, the environment you live and work in, the places you frequent, the activities you partake in and the objects around you.
If you are serious about taking command of your thoughts, I recommend becoming conscious of the media you consume. Limit the time spent watching the news or avoid it all together. If something significant happens in the world you’ll be informed.
You also need to be mindful of time spent with others. People who whinge and complain, question your actions, criticise your decision or judge you will quickly dampen your spirits and cause you to doubt yourself. Instead, surround yourself with people who inspire you and make you feel good. If you don’t have these types of people in your circle of friends or acquaintances, I have a couple of suggestions. Spend time with a mentor who you aspire to emulate or can assist you to grow and develop. You could also immerse yourself in the content of someone you admire in terms of work, achievements, ethics, qualities, beliefs, philosophies, values etc.
There is now so much excellent content available online, and as a result of the 2020 pandemic, virtual events are becoming common place. Although it’s not the same as attending a seminar or workshop in person, the advantage of online events is that they are more affordable, can be accessed from anywhere in the world and many are recorded so can be watched multiple times at your convenience. I find it particularly helpful to consume inspiring audio or video content upon waking, as it sets my mood and influences my mindset for the day. I also find it to be a quick and effective ‘pick me up’ when needed.
I also recommend completing an audit of your life. This requires you to retreat from any distractions, including your loved ones. Begin by consciously observing how you feel about your day-to-day environments and the things in them. This includes the people you interact with, the places you go, the activities you participate in and the events you attend. Then eliminate the things from your life that you don’t enjoy and minimise the time you spend with people who don’t make you feel good about yourself. Give away or donate any items that harbour bad memories.
The above methods are designed to positively influence your thoughts on an outer level. But it’s also imperative that you learn to harness your mind and take command of your thoughts to create the future you truly desire.
I found that by holding my focus and attention on what I wished to manifest, create, experience, develop or produce (rather than what I didn’t want or feared), I could interrupt my automated way of thinking and habit of spiralling into negative patterns. Below are some ideas to get you started on a similar path.
Write a creative narrative about the life you desire to live. Start by considering what your ideal day would look like? Then, describe it in detail, using long-hand writing, until it comes to life.
Fill your environment with imagery that symbolises and communicates your goals, aspirations, dreams and desires. Seeing these visual prompts all around you, consciously or not, will help to you more easily envision and hold focus on the future you wish to create.
Decorate your home and office with photos or paintings that represent elements of your dream future. I also recommend adding screensavers to your phone or computer.
Vision boards are another common form of visual aid to communicate your intentions. Pinterest is a good platform for collating your ideas and a modern form of vision boards. If you don’t have a Pinterest account, or would rather go old school, create a collage of images and affirmations or positive belief statements that reflect what you wish to experience in the future. Hang it in a prominent place where you will see it every day.
If you want to truly animate your vision or intention and take command of your thoughts, you can take the process one step further by making a short movie. Movies are generally more effective at visually and emotionally communicating your desires because they engage a wider range of senses. Your movie doesn’t need to capture every nuance of your ideal day and should be only 2 to 3 minutes long. What’s important is that it captures the essence of your dream life and evokes the emotion of living it when viewed. Watching your movie daily helps to retain your vision at the forefront of your mind, assisting you to stay inspired and motivated to actively live your vision.
If you require further step-by-step instruction for implementing the above mentioned methods my second workbook, Imagineer Your Ultimate Future walks you through a powerful yet easy-to-follow process for design, building, and rehearsing an inspiring and emotional charged life vision.
Why is this essential? As you create inner changes – psychological, physiological and neurological – that match the person you aspire to be, your outer world automatically aligns to match your vision. Your dreams of building a life you LOVE can become your reality.
It’s widely accepted that brain function, and subsequently the quality of your thoughts, is affected by the fuel you eat, the amount of sleep you get and the exercise you do. A decent meal instantly makes you think more clearly and feel better. Eating fresh, high-quality foods (preferably organic and locally sourced) that contain sufficient fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals is essential for brain health. Such foods nourish the brain and protect it from oxidative stress and other waste products, which can damage brain cells.
Staying hydrated is a key component to your overall brain and body health. Water is essential for delivering nutrients to the brain and for removing toxins. When the brain is fully hydrated, the exchange of nutrients and toxins is more efficient, thus ensuring better concentration and mental alertness. Drinking 8–10 glasses (2 litres) of pure water every day is ideal.
People lacking enough sleep lose their ability to concentrate and think properly. Between 7 and 10 hours sleep every night is recommended to maximise the quality of several brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. Recent findings suggest that sleep also plays a housekeeping role to remove toxins from your brain that build up while you are awake.
Exercise is also essential for quality brain function. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the release of hormones that foster brain cell growth and promotes brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in many important areas of the brain.
Taking command of your thoughts, using the above mentioned factors, will help to improve your frame of mind, uplift your spirits and bridge the gap between your current reality and the life of your dreams.
In my next post, I’ll discuss the importance of emotional self-management and prescribe various activities to create and sustain a state of emotional buoyancy.