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There used to be mornings (often) when the moment I became conscious, my mind would hurriedly wander off in anticipation of the day’s pending events. To do lists and deadlines noted their urgency in my mind before my eyes even had the chance to focus. This sense of urgency would sometimes cause me to jump to my feet and stumble to the bathroom sink where I would splash cold water onto my face. Doing this first thing in the morning is much like sticking one’s finger in a light socket. I suppose that’s the point of it, right? Shock myself into action!
So after a brief face making exchange with the mirror, I would inevitably attempt to talk myself out of going to the gym because I “didn’t have time“, and my thoughts would usually vote more in favor of a triple shot latte. This all would take place within a matter of a minute. That was when I wasn’t running late.
Does any of this sound even a little familiar? If your answer is yes I have just one word for you: Breathe.
Give your thoughts a time-out. Literally. It only takes a few minutes to lay in bed, take a deep breath, ground yourself in the moment and quiet your mind. The world can wait. That’s right. It can and it will, wait. Then slowly, gather and manage your thoughts. Taking the time to set them in the right direction for the day ahead will not cause a collapse of the infrastructure. Quite the opposite actually; focusing your thoughts in a relaxed and positive manner will cause you to be more productive and give you more vibrant energy. And I’m all for having an vibrant day, how about you?
This does not only apply to waking up in the morning. Our thoughts are constantly busy making plans for the future, revisiting old places, people and events, pointing out our shortcomings, and reminding us that time is running out. There are several times during the day that you may need to give those little mind monsters a time-out.
The first step to gaining control over your thoughts is to recognize when they’re running amok. Recognition of thought is imperative and the first and probably most significant step in the self-growth process. Without developing this skill, you will endure a struggle with nearly every effort you put forth. The reason for its importance is simple: if you aren’t controlling your thoughts, then they are controlling you. If you can honestly say that the majority of your thoughts are positive, then you have a huge advantage and are hopefully using it to better the world! But for most of us, the majority of our self-talk is negative and only through conscious effort and positive affirmations are we able to change that.
So, how do you do this? How do you recognize your thoughts when there are so many of them and usually you react before you even realize what took place? Yelling, slamming a door or quitting your job in the heat of the moment, are all examples of reaction before recognition. This can vary in its severity and is the type of uncontrolled thought and reaction that often leads to regret, guilt and sometimes tragedy.
You can control your thoughts by becoming aware of your emotions. Not aware in the sense that you feel bad so you express it as such, “I’m not in the mood for this today”. But you become aware in a way that when you feel bad, you stop right then and there and listen to the thoughts you are having. If you become angry or upset at a person or situation, immediately take note that your mind needs intervention. Rather than allow yourself to react right way, stop and listen. What conversation is going on in your head? Then set forth to change whatever negative thoughts you’re having by replacing them with positive, solution based thoughts, thus changing your mood. Control the conversation. After all, it’s your mind. It seems kind of ridiculous not to have some degree of control over it.
This simple act will transform your life. It will improve your relationships with others and open doors that you wouldn’t have even considered knocking on before. If your thoughts are turning on you, there will be an emotion that follows. Pay attention to it. What is your mind up to now? Change the dialogue and tell it something that you want to hear; something that will empower you.
To get started, before you get out of bed tomorrow take a minute to simply lay there and listen to yourself breathe (don’t worry, the world isn’t going to leave without you, I promise). Then think of things that you’re grateful for and brush aside thoughts that do not empower you. Don’t resist negative thoughts because they will persist if you do. Just, let them float by and don’t give them any attention. Set your mind with the idea that the universe is planning the entire day in your favor and all you have to do is show up!
As with any skill, the more you do this, the better you will become at it. Practice it daily. It will take some effort at first, but before you know it you’ll be a natural. It’s up to you. What kind of day do you want to have? Me too. So, make it happen!