You know what I’m talking about – those seemingly random and bizarre thoughts that pop into our minds. Without warning, they appear and we suddenly find ourselves thinking thoughts that have nothing to do with what we were just thinking about. When those thoughts are funny or frivolous, we don’t pay much attention to them. But when they are truly intrusive, unfriendly, disturbing, self-deprecating, or mean, it can be a struggle to get them out of our mind.
We try not to linger on them because we don’t like the way they make us feel, and we certainly don’t welcome them, but there is this part of us that has a tendency to believe there must be something true within those thoughts if our brain came up with them.
Don’t believe it.
Here’s the truth about the thoughts our brains generate. Brains are very much like other parts of our body. In the same way that hearts beat, lungs breathe, and eyes blink, our brains think. That’s what brains are designed to do. Their sole job—24/7—is to think, and they never stop. It does its job even when we aren’t consciously providing it with input. In fact, it’s still working even when we are asleep, except that now our physical senses are providing minimal input so our brains are free to make all kinds of wild and weird connections. Dream analysis is probably one of the reasons we believe there must be a grain of truth about ourselves, or our lives, in everything we think and dream.
Don’t believe it.
The one thing our brains aren't capable of doing while they are generating thoughts is judging them. Thoughts are “logically” constructed (we’ll skip the details of how this happens or else this post would be closer to 10000 words) and that’s why they seem to make perfect sense. Our brain is trying to produce thoughts and ideas that fit us. They all present a potentiality—sometimes wonderful potentialities—but it stops there. If brains were capable of judging thoughts, we wouldn’t have bizarre beliefs stuck deep within our unconscious minds. As soon as we acknowledge a thought though, we are capable of judging it. We have the ability to make conscious decisions about the validity and viability of those thoughts. We have absolute power over them. We are the masters of our thoughts.
Here are two things you can do when unwelcome or disruptive thoughts wiggle their way into your mind.
1. Say to yourself, “Stop! This is just a thought. Just because my brain is creative enough to think it up doesn’t mean there’s any truth or value in it. I don’t have to think this if I don’t want to.”
2. Consciously change the subject to something you’d rather be thinking about, something positive. Your brain will think about anything you decide to start thinking about. And joyfully, it can only think one thought at a time. If you don’t like the thoughts that are running around the inside of your head at any given moment, just start focusing your attention on something different. If your brain wonders back, acknowledge it, and start thinking about something better again.
It’s a very empowering truth to realize that we are each the master of our own thoughts. Once this truth is embraced, it really can change the course of your life.