Your brain is the strongest instrument you own for the building of greatness in your life, but if not exploited properly, could as well be the most harmful power in your life.
Your brain, more specifically, your thoughts, influence your perception and, so, your interpretation of reality.
I have read that the average person has about 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of time.
You can allow your thoughts to run amok, but why would you? It is your brain, your thoughts; isn’t it time to return your power? Isn’t it time to gain control? Decide to be the man who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.
When you alter your thoughts you will alter your feelings also, and you will as well get rid of the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these results give you a better level of peace in your mind.
There are two ways to control your thoughts: You can interrupt and replace them or you can eliminate them completely. This second option is what is known as peace of mind!
The method of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable scenarios. I now have some ideas that are not of my own selection or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so currently my mind is pretty peaceful. Yours can be too!
Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?
Before you can become the master your mind, you must recognize that you are now at the mercy of a few unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thinking. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.
Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.
1. The Inner Critic
This is your constant abuser.
He is often a conglomeration of:
- Other people’s words; often your parents.
- Thoughts you have built based on you own or other peoples expectations.
- Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
- The things you told yourself as outcome of hurtful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation builds your self-doubt and self-blame that are most likely undeserved in situations of rejection and betrayal.
He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love. Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this horribly?
This individual lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”
He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Sometimes, he is motivated by fear that what occurred in the past will be repeated.
3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker
He is the one that has triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unattended wounds of the past. Any experience that is even a bit related to a past wound will set him off. He could be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.
He has no real motivation; he has bad impulse control and is run by past programming that not longer serves you, if it ever did.
4. The Sleep Depriver
This can be a mixture of any amount of various squatters such as the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.
His motivation could be:
- As a reaction to silence, which he combats against
- Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
- Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
- As listed above for the inner critic and worrier
How can you control these squatters?
You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You have to pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will decide to use.
Start every day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.
- Interrupt and replace them, or
- You can eliminate them altogether with conscious breathing.
Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.
1. The Inner Critic
When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.
You can shout (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that start with “I am.”
For instance, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with,
“I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am an ideal spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”
You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that built the thought, if you know whose voice it is:
“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”
If you realise that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.
This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if needed.
- He riles up the Worrier.
- The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also keeps the presence of the Reactor.
- He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
- He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
- He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!
Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters. Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.
2. The Worrier
Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.
Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body, so you should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:
- Accelerated heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
- Shallow breathing or breathlessness
- Muscles tense
Use the above stated technique to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the result you desire. If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it.
Here is an example:
Instead of being worried about my relatives being on their way in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer): “Thank You Great Spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance problems without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”
Smile when you think it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and maybe even begin to believe it.
If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will increase the feeling so you will boost the effect in your vibrational field.
Now take a calming breath: Slowly, in through your nose, and slowly, out through the mouth. Take as many as you want!
Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.
For instance: If your child gets lost in the mall, the usual parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to shout at them. “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get disappointed when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.
Change those fearful thoughts when they happen to: “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.” Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.
Gratitude, love, peace, and joy are the highest vibrational feelings, and fear is one of the lowest. The feeling is a vibrational magnet. All my ‘go-to’ thoughts are now of gratitude.
Interrupting and replacing your thoughts will, in a short period of time, cut down on the overall number of thoughts you think, especially the unhealthy and unproductive ones. You are on your way to becoming the master of your mind.
3. The Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor
Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to notice and heal the causes of the triggers, but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing right when you notice his presence.
The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response, just like with the Worrier, so, the physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.
- Enhanced heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
- Shallow breathing or breathlessness
- Muscles tension
I’m sure you’ve heard the idea to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.
Conscious breathing is as easy as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.
- Breathe in through your nose.
- Feel the air entering your nostrils.
- Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
- Focus on your belly rising.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Feel your lungs emptying.
- Focus on your belly falling.
- Feel the air exiting your nostrils.
Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.
One of the issues this squatter leads to is that it adds to the Sleep Depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will lower reactionary behavior, which will lower the necessity for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.
Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!
4. The Sleep Depriver
(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)
I was plagued with a very typical problem: not being able to turn off my mind at night. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep. Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.
I began by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now begin with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
Then I came up with replacement technique that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.
When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this strategy, I am still thinking, kind of, but the wheels are no more spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I pick quiet.
From the first time I tried this technique I began to yawn after only a few cycles and am typically asleep within ten minutes.
For really hard nights, I add an enhancement of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Occasionally I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.
If you have problems falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this method. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!
You can also use this strategy any time you want to:
- Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
- Shut down your thinking.
- Calm your feelings.
- Simply focus on the present moment.
Using Conscious Breathing with the Worrier
You can also use conscious breathing when the Worrier goes critical; when he hits fear and panic mode, making thinking hard. Only in this case, you will exhale through your mouth, and make the exhale longer than the inhale.
You Can Be the Master of Your Mind, or a Slave to It
Your mind is an instrument, and like any other instrument, it can be used for constructive goals or for destructive goals. You can let your mind be busy with unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can pick desirable tenants such as peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.
Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!