Do you find that you get caught up in your head — thinking, churning and ruminating? If the answer is yes and you were to proceed along the generally accepted route for dealing with your negative thinking, you would find yourself challenging and battling your thinking, getting stuck in to change your negative thoughts to positive thoughts. Does this work? In my experience this is a fairly low quality option. Why? Because, it involves more thinking and that generally leaves us feeling worse, and requires a significant amount of energy and practice. So what’s the answer?
First, let’s understand what causes negative thinking to escalate, then we can begin to work on the cause. There are three main triggers of increased thinking activity: the first two we can work with, the third we simply have to understand.
Before I talk about these three causes, let me be clear and say that I am talking about conscious thoughts – thoughts you can detect, the chattering internal dialogue that you are aware of when you place your attention on it. This conscious thought is different from unconscious ‘beliefs’ or ‘appraisals’, which exist at a different level. Conscious thoughts are a slower denser vibration as compared to unconscious ‘beliefs’, which are a higher lighter vibration.
Let’s look at our causes:
- Habit: the more we think, the more we think. Despite that sounding ludicrously obvious, it is a simple fact that we are creatures of habit and the more time we spend with our attention and energy in our thinking brain, the more we will gravitate towards spending time in our heads thinking.
There is little doubt that as a culture much of our focus and energy is in our head. We tend to be engaged in one activity while thinking about the next few things we will be doing. Analyzing, evaluating and generally overthinking are commonplace. However, this is a habit that can be broken by redirecting attention. Being more present in the now moment and reconnecting with the physical body are very useful ways of breaking this habit.
- The Presence of Emotion: emotion is a complex physiological process that affects all of the body and all of the brain. When emotion is present within body and brain, the thinking centers of the brain become more active. So if you notice your thinking ramping up, especially if it is negative thinking, there is a good chance that there is emotion inside you trying to get your attention. Doing something with the emotion and taking some action is significantly better than trying to manipulate your thinking.
You never want to think about emotion as such, you simply want to accept it, feel it and act on it where appropriate. Most of the thinking that follows emotion is an attempt to escape the emotion, to resist it and get away from it as fast as possible through analysis and rationalization. Learning to simply sit with emotion without having to escape it can be powerful and profound.
- Thought Energy: this is where we get a little esoteric. Carl Jung talked about the collective unconscious and Rupert Sheldrake talks about morphic fields, so I am going to draw on these ideas. Let’s think about our brains as antennae that tune into quantum fields – almost like the way our TV sets receive and transmit rather than generate the signal. Try to imagine that energy exists within quantum mass consciousness fields, and our brains pick up on this energy and then convert it to thoughts. These thoughts are not our own; they just seem to land in our brains. This is not something we can necessarily control, there seems to be something of a flow of them in and out of our brains. However, if we are picking up on lots of unwanted ‘mass consciousness’ thoughts it is something of a reflection of our own vibrational state. So, when you feel connected to yourself and you are in a ‘space’ of love, compassion and gratitude you will find that there is significantly less thinking activity taking place and fewer thoughts landing in your brain. Conversely, when you are state of fear or anger – lower vibrational states – your receiver-brain will pick up on more unwanted thought-energy as it floats through your consciousness.
What we can do is recognize the presence of these mass consciousness thoughts and allow them to flow through without giving them too much time or attention.
The first step in gaining mastery of your thinking is to understand where much of your conscious thought comes from. Remember that challenging thinking and battling it head on are NOT the answers. Being present in the now in your body and acting in alignment with your deeper feelings will result in a significant reduction in what can seem like constant mental chatter.