Mindfulness & how practising reflection exercises can help...
Thoughts, like our emotions, tend to arise without any effort or conscious intention. Thoughts will often pop into our minds and end up taking on a life of their own. One minute we can be happily enjoying a coffee with friends, and the next minute we can be lost in a bombardment of destructive thought patterns.
While thoughts are commonly triggered by our initial interpretations of our life events and thoughts are often associated with emotions. However, thoughts themselves are separate from our emotions.
Thoughts are the offspring of our beliefs, attitudes and reasoning. Collectively, our thoughts become the stories that our minds tell us (which sometimes, can very easily be proved as inaccurate and untrue).
Often when our attention has been captured by an event in the external world, the emotional reaction we experience will activate a story in our mind in the attempt to work out and interpret what is happening.
Our 'conscious thinking' part of our mind is wired to reason, form beliefs and attitudes that are representative of how it is that we interpret our most important life's experiences. The reasoning human mind is ingénues. It is why we each have the ability to be infinitely creative.
Take a moment to become mindful of the device that you are reading this article on right now ... another human being has created this. No other mammal or creature on this planet has adapted so well due to their ability to work through complex problems and establish the most appropriate solutions to resolve them.
However, the rational part of our mind is like a double-edged sword, especially once our emotions have been triggered. Our mind can jump to the most ridiculous (and incredible) assumptions that are not only false, but that are also completely detrimental to the health of our relationships and our general well-being.
We often try to simplify our everyday experiences, so that we can understand them and explain them away if deemed necessary. We each do this by creating judgements, misguided opinions, and incorrect beliefs - many of which, some people will even declare an 'all out war' to defend.
Many of the assumptions we jump to and judgements we make might satisfy our minds and emotional reactions in the short-term, however, they seldom serve us in our relationships and infrequently will reflect the actual truth of any given situation.
The aim is to train our minds to tune out our unhelpful thoughts, and we do this through practising mindfulness.
The important point is that while we can discipline our minds to focus on more important aspects of our life, ourselves and our surroundings, we cannot prevent thoughts from entering our minds, to begin with. They come from somewhere else. Historically, people can tend to end up increasing their fears or anxieties as a result of believing that who they are is a reflection of what they think. A person is separate from what a person thinks.
Some people find that out-of-control thoughts plague their minds following a traumatic event or personal failure. Other people become tired and exhausted with the pace and rate of which their minds think. However, stopping thought in its entirety is not possible.
If you close you eyes for a moment and think about blue and yellow spotted break dancing horses ..... Yes, you consider this a ridiculous idea, but... there is still a high chance that the thought of blue and yellow spotted break dancing horses continues to still rattle around inside of your mind. Why?
Because the seed has been planted. It's now up to YOU whether you focus on this seed or not.
So, the trick to becoming efficient in practising mindfulness is not about stopping our thoughts entirely, but rather, becoming more aware of our thoughts and managing them with greater efficiency.
Mindfulness is about increasing your awareness of what is happening in the present moment and making a choice in regards to where or what you focus your attention upon.
Mindfulness does not stop thought, but it does determine what types of thinking we accept, and what kinds of though we reject. The art of mindfulness is about mastering the ability to change or modify our habitual thought patterns or processes as soon as we identify that they are no longer serving us.
Have a go at the "9 question exercise challenge" you can access the worksheet via our resources page on the website here >>> https://www.emotion-in-motion.org/resources-page