Over the last couple of years I have become fascinated with the idea that everything in your life is a result of what goes on in your mind.
If there are two twins that are the exact same in every way, except that one is relentlessly positive and the other is endlessly negative, their lives would be completely different.
They could encounter the exact same scenarios and obstacles but they would perceive them in different ways. The positive person would see them as a chance to grow, and the negative person would see them as evidence that you can never succeed.
With this in mind I am convinced that learning to skew your mind towards the positive and the useful is the best way to completely transform your life.
Here are the three steps to learning to control your mind like a Jedi.
1) Observe your thoughts.
In order to start controlling the endless chatter in your mind you first have to get rid of the idea that you are your thoughts.
We tend to think that the chatter in our mind is who we are and that is it, but that is just a part of who you are. You are your whole body from top to bottom and your entire subconscious, not just your conscious thoughts.
Now what you need to do is to step back from your thoughts and observe them. Start keeping track of when you are thinking negatively. The next time you find yourself upset, step back for a second and think “Wow, I have a lot of negative thoughts right now.”
Doing this will help you catch yourself in these useless reflexive thought cycles. Nothing good comes from beating yourself up or feeling sorry for yourself so the more you start to catch yourself, the quicker you can implement my next step.
2) Cancel your negative thoughts.
Now that you are starting to keep an eye on what you are thinking instead of just letting the chatter go on, you can start to pull yourself out of these habitual thought patterns.
Your brain doesn’t like using a lot of energy, so if you are a person who naturally reacts negatively, your mind will jump to that first because it is easy. Doing something outside of the norm requires conscious effort, something your brain would rather avoid.
Yeah, thanks evolution, we really appreciate that…
My favourite way to pull myself out of my bad habitual thought cycles is to use an “interrupt mantra.”
An interrupt mantra is something that you start repeating over and over once you realize that you are in one of these cycles. It will replace your useless thoughts with the exact opposite and more useful thoughts.
If you are someone who has problems with procrastination, once you realize that you are thinking “Man, I hate doing this work, I just want to relax and watch some Netflix” you have to switch to your interrupt mantra. It could be something like “I am energized and ready to take on anything. I’ll conquer this project with ease and energy to spare.”
Repeat that as many times in a row as you have to and after a while of canceling your negative thoughts, your mind will start to reflexively jump to the positive and more useful thoughts.
It only makes sense that your procrastination will naturally shrink when your reflexive thoughts are that of being energized and ready to conquer the obstacles ahead of you.
Interrupt mantras can work for any negative thoughts. If you have negative thoughts about your confidence interrupt them with “I am an amazing and confident person. I am going to start giving myself the credit I deserve.”
If you have problems with willpower interrupt those thoughts by saying “I have tons of willpower to spare. I am a strong person who can beat any temptation with ease.”
Rinse and repeat as many times as needed whether it be ten, twenty, or thirty times in a row.
This step isn’t required, but it will make the whole process ten times easier. When I started meditating I didn’t realize just how impactful it would be. I also didn’t realize how many of my favourite celebrities and great thinkers meditated.
Everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Katy Perry, to Oprah Winfrey and more credit meditation as a key part of their success and ability to stay balanced.
We could discuss meditation for hours, the spiritual aspects, the physical effects it has on the brain over time or even just the calming effect it can create instantly. But for now there is one plus side to meditation that I want to share with you.
It allows you to step back from your thoughts.
With the type of meditation I do the point is to focus on your breath so intensely that your thoughts cease. Now, during meditation you are sure to have thoughts pop into your head. In this case you just allow them to surface without analyzing them, and then get back to focusing on your breathing. If you get an itch on your leg, you feel it, but then immediately bring your attention back to your breath.
This will train you to be able to have a thought or emotion surface without allowing it to pull you into its rabbit hole. This way when something happens in your daily life that aggravates you, instead of stewing over it for hours and ruining your whole day you can step back and say “is this really a useful thing to focus on? Do these thought patterns improve my life in any way shape or form, or do they just serve to steal energy and happiness from me?”
Armed with this ability to step back and question these reflexive thoughts, you can truly start to control your mind and use it for your own self improvement.
A quote that has been repeated by many of the great minds of the world, and is very close to my heart is: “The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”
This quote perfectly explains the two different relationships you can have with your mind.
Either you control it, or it controls you. The decision is yours.
Steven Farquharson, 2HelpfulGuys