Do you control your thoughts or do they control you?

Become aware of your thinking — serve as your own “thought monitor.” When you notice a trend toward the negative, it is time to take control.

 by Irene Conlan — 

Think about your thoughts. Where do they lead you? Do you let them help you soar to new heights? Or do you allow them to control your mind, attitudes, emotions, desires and decisions in a negative way? Consider some of the scenarios below, and see if you can relate to them.

• You are studying for an advanced degree and have an important exam to take. You fear that you will freeze during the test and your mind will draw a blank at each question. You begin to doubt your mastery of the material and, even though you have spent hours in preparation, your thoughts have declared you a failure before you even begin the exam. You have set yourself up for failure in a situation that you could ordinarily handle with ease.

• You made a commitment to help a friend with a project that is very important to her. It is a project that requires attention to detail and a good bit of creativity, not to mention time. The more you think about it, the less you want to do it, realizing it is out of your comfort zone.

You allow your mind to focus on other things that need to be done. Your friend calls and you give her an excuse so that you do not have to admit you are in over your head. You rationalize that the things on your list had higher priority. In the end, you let your friend down.

• You are asked to give some serious consideration to writing a book or a series of articles. You ask a couple of friends for their opinions and receive both positive and negative feedback. By the time you need to make a decision, the negative input has won and your response is, “Thanks, but the answer is no.” Perhaps you would have written a bestseller, but now you will never know.

• You visit an online dating site and receive a number of responses. You consider each one, then decide that none of them works for you. You do this, not because you have information that lets you know they are not a good match for you, but because your thoughts led you to believe they would not like you. What have you missed by that assumption?

• You did not sleep well last night or the night before, so today your thoughts dwell on the possibility that you will not sleep again tonight. You have set yourself up not to sleep and, no surprise, you have another restless night. An important step you can take to make a good night’s sleep a possibility is to manage your thoughts.

• You are told that the boss wants to see you first thing in the morning. You spend the evening and night worrying that he is going to give you a negative review or that you may be getting laid off or fired. By the time of the meeting, you have worked yourself into a frenzy with your negative thinking.

The fact is that the boss called you in to tell you that you are getting a promotion, accompanied by a raise. You go in tired and with a negative attitude, based simply on your own negative thoughts and projections.

Do you allow your thoughts to sabotage you and prevent you from taking necessary risks and, therefore, from enjoying remarkable success? These are not situations in which “no” is the best answer or recognizing that a situation truly is not right for you. These are situations when your thoughts take over and influence a decision in an unfortunate and unfavorable way.

If the answer is “yes,” what can you do about it? While this may not be new information but simply a reminder, here are several things you can do:

• Become aware of your thinking — serve as your own “thought monitor.” When you notice a trend toward the negative, take control. Watch for patterns; awareness is key.

• When you do not have all your facts, gather information that allows you to make an intelligent, informed decision. This will help you avoid jumping to false conclusions based on negative input from your own thoughts.

• Develop a pattern of positive thinking.

  1. Write positive affirmations that are realistic for you, and use them on a regular basis.
  2. Develop a habit of journaling every day about those things you appreciate, are grateful for and that give you joy. For example, jot down five things daily that you are grateful for. It does not need to be a long, time-consuming exercise. This starts or ends your day on an upbeat note.
  3. Look for the possible positive outcomes from negative experiences. What did you learn?

Become more aware of your strengths, ideas and beliefs. Remember that thoughts are things and they create. Can you name one thing in existence that did not start out as a thought? Me neither.

In his book, As a Man Thinketh, James Allen states, “All that you accomplish or fail to accomplish with your life is the direct result of your thoughts.”

What do your thoughts create in your life? Are they in control or are you?


Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, is a certified hypnotherapist and a certified past-life regression therapist in Scottsdale, Ariz., or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 6, Dec 2010/Jan 2011.


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