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Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get stuck in a mode of complaining about things even though that’s not you conscious intention? Why is this, even when we basically don’t want to be doing it? In personal growth work, understanding your thinking can be a great help with managing what you may think you are stuck with and not have any control of.
What I’m talking about comes out in a glaring way at times when we are in a group of people that gets going on complaining or criticizing another person. Have you witnessed how the group seems to get on a roll, with each person adding another and another related comment? If we are not careful about our presence of mind we can get pulled right into it.
Now, the reason complaining starts in the first place is a different matter, here I want to address what happens in our mind to keep feeding it. Once we start it is so easy to keep on with it and even enhance it even when it may not be in our normal character.
It has to do with the way your brain works, your brain is a seeking, answering mechanism. It wants to solve or satisfy what you are telling it through your conscious thought. Essentially everything you are thinking is a question to your brain. A question your brain is programmed to either answer by finding proof or find more of the same to validate your conscious thinking. Your brain wants to support and please you! It will quickly show you that what you are thinking is ‘correct’.
So, when you either start complaining yourself or you are listening to others complain, the brain goes to work finding more related content for you to back up your current thoughts. This validates your thinking, and yes what another person is saying, you are thinking about. If you agree or go along with what they are saying, you are thinking it yourself, thus asking for more of the same, or validation.
This is how you get a related thought popping up which leads to your statement about it. If you had complained, this new thought will likely be another related complaint. If you are making negative comments about another person, your brain will help you find more, and even bring up other people to criticize in a similar way.
Of course this works for all thinking, so it if very beneficial to you when your thoughts are happy and positive. Your brain will seek more of the same for you. The key in this is thought command. All of this brain activity is instigated by your conscious thought. Your conscious thought, which you can choose all of, is ultimately the director of your mind. If you are in command of your conscious and subconscious thinking.
However, the subconscious mind might be doing some things that it thought you wanted at an earlier time. This is where thought habits and beliefs are stored as programs to be turned on when a new related thought comes from your conscious mind. This is a topic for another article, but briefly, this is why you may have behavior that you are not sure why you have.
Even though these programs turn on automatically and direct your thinking and behavior, you are still ultimately in command consciously. You just need to recognize what is going on so that you can redirect or reprogram them as you now want.
In regards to complaining, in order to not have our mind help us complain, it is necessary to take command of our thinking. This means that you must first notice what you are thinking, then you can make a choice to keep on with it or change it. This is where the ‘master switch’ of your thinking is, in your conscious choice of thought. You don’t need to stay with a complaining though, or agree with others as they complain.
Just because something did happen, it does not mean you must let it continue. Because others are having a complaining session, or that you have noticed that you complained, you can choose to change that pattern of thought. You must specifically put in new thoughts, there can be no voids in thought, thee must be some thought. Choose a line of thought that is based more on being happy and loving.
Choosing your intentions and watching to keep your thoughts aligned with them is where you power is. Like anything with regards to managing your thinking, it can take some practice to get efficient at it. But doing what you can right now is better than waiting for some perfection, the doing will bring about more ability to assert your command of your thoughts.
What do you want to be today?
Happy, joyful and pleasant, OR unhappy, miserable and crabby?
Will you expect good or will be expecting something to go wrong?
Will you feel confident in yourself or afraid you aren’t good enough?
You get the idea here. The thing is, you can actually decide which way you will be. All of your attitudes and feelings are the result of a definition. Your definition of yourself. The key is, this is not set in stone – it is set in your mind. And you can change it. You can choose a new and different self definition if the one you are now holding does not fully support the life that you want.
Of course, you did not sit down one day and lay out your self definition . . but you can! What you think of yourself has developed gradually over the years with much of it being a result of interpretations you made about experiences you were involved in. Now you were not likely consciously aware of these interpretations either, most of them were done based on other past experiences a well. All of these interpretations build upon themselves and without realizing it you just believe it all as just being the way you are.
You can actually change they way you interpret things, as well as the way you see yourself. Your unconscious mind, which is where all the automatic thinking and reactions come from is really serving what it knows that you want. And at some point, you instructed the unconscious mind what you wanted. And it’s function is to serve you. Your unconscious mind acts on your behalf all the time, after all it keeps your body functioning without you having to pay it any attention.
But there is a key fact with all of this. Your unconscious mind is not in charge – your conscious mind is. It may appear the other way around because so much seems to happen so automatically. The only way your unconscious mind knows what to do is from an order from the conscious mind. And your unconscious mind is very loyal and obedient. What you may have told it 25 years ago, it is still following as law. Your conscious mind is in charge. You can issue new commands to your unconscious obedient mind when you choose. The only catch is – that you must first know that you can. Well, now you know.
Now you can pay attention to what is happening automatically with your thought, your attitude, your perceptions – everything can be changed. You can decide which of these automatic functions serves you well in the way you want your life to be. You can rewrite the script for these thoughts and behaviors. Just because you have had a certain demeanor does not mean you are stuck with it. How do you want to carry yourself all day long? Your attitude? Your reactions? Your tone of voice with others? How you see everything?
Once you begin to notice characteristics about yourself, you can see which ones you like and which ones not so much fit your ideal way. Then, you can choose how you would rather heave it be. You can choose to be pleasant, happy, trusting, confident and more. And at the beginning of the day is a fine time to set things straight. In the morning, right after awaking from sleep, you can tell yourself what you will be like today. You can preset your disposition and your attitude. And know this will affect everything you do and experience. In this universe we are in, like attracts like – it’s a law.
You can declare, “I AM calm” “I am at peace.” “I am happy.” “I am confident.” “I am good with change.” “I am highly capable.” Now this may take a little while to take effect. It’s possible to change right away, but your unconscious programming may need a little coaxing to drop something it has operated with for many years. It will tend to fall back to the old ways in the beginning. But you, being in charge consciously, have the power to outlast your unconscious mind as long as you stay alert and diligent. I won’t say it’s not easy to fall back, it is, but you are stronger than your unconscious programming – you are in charge, consciously.
So, in the morning, set yourself up to be more like you want. Choose to be happy and joyous, and to treat people well – including yourself! Use affirmative statements repeatedly essentially to convince your unconscious of what you want, it will get the message and make the changes. Set the tone for yourself, and your day. You will be amazed at how much better things seem to go.
It’s your life, your mind – so take command, and choose.
One of the things that makes it tough to change your thinking is the attachment to existing thoughts.
At first you may think that you wouldn’t do such a thing when the new mode of thinking is what you think you want. And of course this is true, but there is the aspect of your mind that loves to hold on to what you know and are familiar with. It’s very much like how a magnet automatically attracts iron and steel. Your existing thoughts seem to have a power of their own. They don’t of course, other than through your allowing them to.
But the hard part comes with your not always being aware that these thoughts are even there. Your unconscious mind harbors these thoughts which are integrated into your base mental operating system
Two aspects that are very powerful with us humans are the desire for comfort and following the familiar. Even when thoughts are not really in our best interest but are familiar to us, we will gravitate towards them, craving what is known.
We generally have a hard time facing the unknown, thus we shy away from it rather more often seeking what is known and comfortable. In our desire to eliminate the unknown, we attempt to define, categorize and organize everything to put it all into neat order that we can feel comfortable with.
This of course can not actually be done. In reality everything is in constant change, but because we are generally uncomfortable with new and different, we seek the known no matter how inappropriate it may be for us. This is also why thoughts and actions that don’t serve your best interest are so readily held onto and acted upon automatically in your unconscious mind.
“Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.” — Glenda Cloud
Part of your mind is trying to help you feel comfortable by building a database of what you have already experienced and use this as often as possible to help you feel good. One of the basic human drives is to feel good and our unconscious mind is geared to help accomplish this.
I know, how can doing something that is harmful such as a bad habit be comfortable? It can in the sense that it is known. It is more comfortable than what you have not done before because at least it is known to you. As you know many people will hang on to some very destructive habits without knowing why. This is one of the main reasons why change is so difficult.
For the most part you are unaware of this mental activity as your unconscious mind efficiently streamlines many of your thought processes. Don’t get upset with your brain, it’s just doing it’s job. Just imagine if you had to consciously think about everything your mind did – you wouldn’t have time to do anything above your basic life support, if that.
“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” — Abraham H. Maslow
Our unconscious mind, much like a computer operating system, performs many functions without our need to be aware of them. But also like a computer program, your automatic brain functions can be altered. As a programmer can go in and change a program such as Microsoft Word and get it to perform different functions, you can change many of your basic thoughts, feelings and perceptions that automatically guide your behavior.
The question is – are you willing to face your basic comfort seeking programming in order to experience something new and different in your life? You must choose to step into the unknown, into what is new to you and away from what you have been deriving some comfort from. On the surface this seems and feels unnatural – but it’s not.
Learning to face and accept the uncertainty of the unknown releases your ability to change your lot in life, realize your potential and increase your happiness.
Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”
This applies here with your perceptions about the unknown, comfort and feeling good. When you change how you look at change, the unknown, anything new, you can affect your related behavior and how your automatic unconscious mind tries to keep you away from it.
Your life is designed to continuously develop with you becoming more of what you are capable of as you go along. When you allow yourself to shy away from change you are actually stopping this free flow of growth. When you see something new as being somewhat painful because it is different, this is a perception – a choice. Something new and different does not come with discomfort attached that is your doing. Nothing comes with perceptions or emotional feelings attached – that is all of our doing.
One of the most powerful self-help methods is totally free. Ask yourself questions, the right questions. Your subconscious will seek to answer your serious heartfelt questions. And questions can be used to assist with changing the way you perceive the unknown and change so that you welcome it rather than avoid it.
Ask yourself, “How can this be beneficial to me?”
“How can this be more beneficial than remaining as I have for so long?”
“How can this, new and different activity, better support the life I want?”
The questions you can ask are endless. It will take a little practice to figure out what to ask, just keep playing with it – having the intent of creating effective questions you will discover the right questions for your situatuion. You will also likely need to learn to listen for the answers. Quieting the incessant mind chatter is necessary and can be done in various ways such as breathing and meditation.
Another angle for questions is to ask yourself why you feel as you do about change, comfort, happiness, new and different to see if you can get clarity into your perceptions about them. This then allows you to see what you don’t want which then leads to the opposite, what you DO want.
Take the position mentally that something new and different is basically good and beneficial, ask questions seeking how this is. Rather than your old way of looking at change as uncomfortable and undesirable. Look for the benefits, not the detriments – this is a change of perception. Your emotional feelings will follow your perceptions, you will feel different about change when you look at it differently.
Be proactive with how you look at things, choose the perceptions that best support the life you are meant to live. Just because you have had a certain perception now does not mean you must keep it forever. The first step is to change the way you look at change.
“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.” — Herbert A. Otto
John Halderman teaches and writes in the areas of personal growth and development focusing on effective methods for self actualization, increased satisfaction and happiness. For more:
Have you ever allowed yourself to do something that you really should not have?
The human mind is a wonderful thing, however, it can work against you if you allow it to.
Is can be beneficial to understand how this can happen so you can prevent it, keeping yourself out of undesirable situations.
Last week, in my family we experienced a situation that is a good example of how the mind can lead us astray – if we let it.
My youngest daughter came to a point of thinking something was OK to do, when it was not.
It appears that her path of thought was supported more by her desire to do something rather than all the facts.
She justified, in her mind, that certain things occurred in ways that supported her desire.
The mind can do this easily.
This allowed her to make decisions that further supported what she wanted.
It’s a normal function of the mind that it tries to find solutions that support our desires – this is how we grow, develop and fully experience our life.
You may have noticed how your mind may attempt to circumvent your values in an attempt to take the shortest route to producing your desire.
You support this line of thinking when you take a small step allowing your mind to guide you to think something is acceptable now when previously it was not.
It’s usually a small step, but then another small step, and another and so on.
And you will find yourself doing something you shouldn’t.
This is where you may say something to yourself like;
“It will be OK this time”, or
“They didn’t tell me not to”, or
“But I really want this”, or
“Who will know”, or
“Just this once”, or
You may recall some of your own.
Here is where you need to be in command, to temper the minds tendency to give you what you want- no matter what.
This is an opportunity for you to solidify your standards and principles.
Every time you stop your mind from taking the shortest route to give you what you want, you strengthen the position of your values.
Even when you think you have developed habits that are based on your principles, still be on the watch for what you are doing.
Keep monitoring your thoughts and actions, your unconscious mind can slip into finding the easiest way to accomplish your desires without telling you – that’s how it’s built.
Don’t take for granted that you are all set with your thinking.
Change is constant with new and different circumstances coming before you that need your interpretation.
Continue to filter everything through your principles.
Justification is just a convenient way to circumvent your principles in order to get what you want.
Justification turns off the filtering mechanism you use to interpret what you do.
Vigilant thought management is the key.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your
words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.” — Anonymous
“The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny – it is the light that guides your way.” — Heraculitus
“The character ethic, which I believe to be the foundation of success, teaches that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.” — Stephen Covey
“Character and personal force are the only investments that are worth anything.” — Walt Whitman