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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.
Are you focusing your time and attention to the right things? Are you placing importance on the right thoughts, feelings and behaviors?
Did you know that for most people, much of what they do in life was not consciously chosen by them? And many times we have done these things for so long they now do seem important to us, but deep down they really are not. At least not as important as what truly is deeply important. This is because doing so requires us to take command of our thinking and analyze the state of our life. But letting our minds just run things is easier, efficient and more comfortable. Most people have not taken the time to discover what is truly important to them, life just kind of goes along with many seemingly important activities going on all the time. Your brain will ‘take care’ of you in it’s own way and understanding this is very helpful if you want any kind of change in your life.
When you put your attention to something you will see and experience more of it, you will think about it more and even expound on it. Have you ever become interested in a certain model of car from reading and pictures, and then in the next few days you all of a sudden see lots of them on the road as you are driving around, and you hadn’t really noticed many before? Now that you have placed some of your attention, and maybe with some heightened emotional feeling, into the car you want your mind will help you experience more of the same. Your mind is just doing it’s job, to help keep you as comfortable as possible, and make your life easier with patterns, habits and easily repeated behaviors.
When you understand the way your brain works you can better work with it to get and experience what you want. In this case, it is valuable to be aware of what your mind will tend to do automatically so that you understand that you must be purposefully proactive with your thought and attention. Your mind gets programmed through repetition to see and pay attention to what you have already paid attention to. So if you don’t consciously otherwise direct your thinking, your mind will normally keep replaying the same things you have already done and have experience with. This is makes life easier, you don’t have to ‘think’ about a lot of things.
This is why we can feel as though our life has just been going on by itself, because it is. Until you step in, taking command of your thought, and direct your thinking – it will remain as it was. Well actually not exactly the same, your mind will continue to help you expand and develop on the theme – good or bad! In addition, whatever your mind focuses on becomes more important to you. This importance does not differentiate between good or bad.
When you place your attention on anything, this is a command to your brain telling it what you want. So, your brain works to fulfill this. Now this can be anything, even what you don’t want, or a bad experience, or a fear – anything you have focused conscious attention on your brain will help you experience more of it. This is one reason why habits are so hard to break, you keep falling into routines and have the same reactions and feelings over and over.
What can be done about this? Your brain is performing as intended but you are stuck repeating many experiences you would rather not have anymore or you want something new and different. You need to consciously take command of your thinking and override the automatic aspects of your brain. This is where your true power resides, in your conscious command of your thoughts. Just because your brain throws out thought and defense of it does not mean you must follow this – your conscious thought is ultimately in control. It may not seem this way because you have become accustomed to allowing the brain to keep things going automatically, but you can step in and take command anytime you choose.
You may not even know your deepest desires even though they have likely popped up once in a while. You will need to take some time and give attention to discovering what is deeply most important to you, it may not be what you have thought is important. There are different ways to go about this, with most consisting of quieting your chattering mind talk and learning to be receptive to inner information coming up to the conscious level. Doing things like asking yourself questions about yourself and becoming receptive to answers may not be something you are accustomed to doing, so it may take time, patience and persistence realizing that you are really in charge of your thinking. Even adding this kind of activity into your day means that you will need to make time by replacing something already present.
There are a few factors to be aware of that can hamper your progress:
Your brain will attempt to defend the repeating thoughts, throwing out ‘mind chatter’ to dissuade you from your new thinking and actions.
There is more short term comfort in what you already know, even if it is very bad for you. Keep your vision on the long term intention and satisfaction, as a way to get by the desire for feeling good now.
You must remain persistent, more persistent than the brains need to protect what you are trying to displace. Utilize whatever tools and techniques you can to help yourself stay on track. Persistence reveals the winner!
When you begin to see what is truly most important, you will then want to start to change what you focus some of your time and attention to. In order for the new desired experience to come to fruition you will need to continuously give it attention and time in your day. It is like a seed that needs to be nurtured. As you do this your brain will help expound on this and gradually have it become part of the automatic norm for your life just as it has with what you experience now.
Remaining in focus with what you have now or with what you don’t want will only tell your brain to perpetuate it. The first and necessary step for anything to change is your taking command of your thought and choosing what you do want based on what is important to you, then focus on it even if your brain throws up resistance. It’s up to you to choose your priorities and tell your brain what you want to focus on, not the other way around. Your brain will follow your lead once you’ve established your athority over your thinking. Take charge of your life, utilize your true power, choose your thought and your priorities.
Your life is going on and on and on. This is a good thing of course and your brain is designed to keep it this way. Part of your brains function is to simplify as much as possible and to help you feel good which it is very good at. Now you may think that you are always feeling as good as you want this is because your brain sees keeping things the same as more comforting than change. So even what may not be good for you is perpetuated. Your brain is very good at keeping everything the same, in fact it helps to enhance whatever has already been experienced. The way the brain sees this is, you must want it – you chose it, even if not consciously.
The easiest course for your life is for more of the same and that is likely what you have been experiencing. This of course may be all good if you are totally satisfied with everything. But if you want anything about your life to be different, that’s not what your brain is in charge of. When your day is completely full of what you already think, feel and do where does the new come in? When your unconscious and conscious though are consumed with what is now going on, which I assure you they are, all of your attention is there as well. Your day to day life is essentially a habit that continues to feed and support itself, keeping you locked in as it is.
What happens is that you can become blind to other things, that are different. How this affects your life is this – You can become so involved with your repeating thoughts which increase in importance by default that you are not even aware of what you are not doing, what you are missing, and what is deeply important to you. I ran across a video that illustrates this. Pay attention to the guy speaking and do what he instructs you to do. Perception
This attention blindness keeps us doing what we have done and away from what is different and unrelated. You’ve heard the saying, “you can’t see the forest through the trees.” You may not see things that are right in front of you because your attention is already taken up with something. When focusing on the trees that are right in front of you, you are not able to see the scope of the entire forest and it’s varied landscapes.
Many of the things that you have grown to think are important because of your continual involvement, may not be so important to you at a deeper level. As you focus your attention on something it’s importance increases just from the increased presence of the involved thoughts and actions. With this higher level of importance your brain gives it more attention too making it even more prominent in your conscious and unconscious thought, thus many other things are completely shut out of your awareness.
It is important to know that you can really only focus on one thing at a time. When you are ‘multi-tasking’ you are actually jumping quickly back and forth from one thing to another. There is only so much of this that your brain is capable of doing. Plus, there is the time utilized factor. There are 24 hours in a day and when you have allowed the repetitive thoughts to inhabit those hours you are awake, there is no more time for other, new thoughts. You can easily use up your day pretty much thinking about the same things as you did yesterday and the day before. So where does new thinking fit it?
Essentially your life is easily consumed with what you have already experienced, have thought about a lot and have established feelings for. This is almost too simple. Allowing your daily life to continue on in the same way, as your brain helps you do, you are actually preventing yourself from seeing and experiencing anything new and different.
You do however have the ability and the right to make changes in your life anytime you want, you must choose to first and then follow through with persistence and determination to override what is already established in your mind. Your real power as a human lies with your ultimate command of your thought. Just because your brain functions the way it does does not prevent you from aver changing any of it. Where the problem lies is that most of us have a pattern of allowing our minds to perpetuate the same thoughts and experiences over and over rather than making frequent changes. Making frequent changes and adjustments to your thinking can become part of your normal operating system once do do it for a while. Your brain will support this just as it has supported anything else you have focused on.
To change any of your repeating life experience you will need to assert your command of your thought and make choices about what you do and don’t want to be your life experience. Just be aware of how your brain works, it wants to keep you comfortable by keeping things as they are.
As you work on change you may experience some of the following:
Doubt and worry,
Challenging your ability and self-esteem,
Brain fog, clouding your thought,
Short term gratification,
Don’t let this stop you, you don’t need to remain blinded by your existing life experience. Realizing what may occur up front you will be less likely to be influenced by it. Determination, persistence and the belief that you are fully capable will help you learn to make the wanted adjustments to your thought and what you focus on. It’s your mind, use it to your benefit.
Self-discovery happens as the result of conscious mental and physical action. Doing the same things over and over is not conscious mental action, it’s passive unconscious automatic beahavior.
We think we are thinking because our brains are working, that is not thinking. Real thinking is active curiosity, analysis, planning, dreaming and questioning. When you carry on only doing the same things each day in the same ways, you are essentially living one day many times. But when you are actively thinking, you are living a new day each day. And your personal growth and development is based on self-discovery. If you don’t find out more about yourself, who you are and what you can do, there is nothing to grow into. Becoming aware of yourself right now is the first important step- you can’t do anything about what you aren’t aware of.
I learned this lesson in my early 20’s when I was the night shift foreman in a precision sheet metal shop in the Silicon Valley during the initial electronics boom of the 70’s. The owner of the shop had hired a new brake operator who said that he had 20 years of experience doing the job. In this shop situation we did many small run jobs so there was always a lot of setting up the machines required all day long. The idea of someone with 20 years experience excited me because I was the main person doing all the set ups at the time, which kept me running from place to place to keep everyone productive.
When I was introduced to this new man, he looked at me, the 20-year-old, and gave me this look like, who are you to be my boss? I didn’t let it bother me as I had been working with others much older than I for some time. I showed him the machines where he would be working and gave him a basic run down of the current task at hand, and left him alone figuring he knew what he was doing. After about 30 minutes I got a chance to go to see how he was doing, I figured he would be well on his way.
He had not done anything! And guess what, his demeanor had changed. Right then I found out that here was a guy that had been using this kind of machine for over 20 years and did not know how to make a simple set up for one. All he had done for all those years was to put the parts in, hit the pedal to make it operate, and pull the part out – someone else had made the set ups.
Now I am not saying this to brag rather to illustrate the difference in how we can spend our time. Here was a man that essentially lived the same year 20 times, never progressing with his knowledge, skills and activities. Then, I was a 20 year old who started this kind of work when I was 16 and at this time had been doing prototype work and now running my own shift making most of the set ups for everyone there. My previous 4 years were each different as I progressed through the learning and skill development process.
My point here is not to judge someone for wanting to remain doing the same things for years but rather to illustrate how we can look at our use of our time. Everyone has their own life path and certainly can choose as they will. But if you are not experiencing life as you have dreamed, you can do something about it. It comes down to choice, if you are enjoying your life as it is great. But if you have been thinking about wanting your life to be different and you can see that you have been doing the same things in the same ways for a long time, you can do something about it.
How this all fits into self-discovery is this, when your mind is actively working with questions, finding solutions, being creative, and trying new things you are setting yourself up to discover more. Just ask yourself this question, if what you are doing and how you are doing it is working and satisfying, why would you seek a different or better way? You wouldn’t. You mind is designed to help automate as much as possible for you so doing simple tasks and operating your physical body do not require a lot of conscious thought all the time. Can you imagine the mental burden if you had to consciously think about all this basic stuff?
Your mind is consciously engaged as you choose to engage it. Your conscious mind does always have something going on, but if you do not actively engage it, this thought tends to be mainly repetitive, as you know. In order to engage your mind you are actually asking it questions or giving commands. Your brain will serve to solve these questions and fulfill the commands. And this is when you really discover many things. You discover more about yourself, more about how to do something, and more of what is possible for you. All this because you are engaging your brain with active thought.
Take a look at what you are doing? Enhance your self-awareness. Are you moving forward at the pace you are happy with? Do you feel stuck in a repetitive cycle? Do you like where you are, or not? Asking questions of yourself is a great way to stimulate self-discovery and get your life moving in the direction you want. And, to find out what you are truly happy with right now. Personal growth and development is a daily ongoing process, to keep it going, pay attention every day.
A recent study has proven that your brain uses the same neurons when you
recall a memory as it did when you initially had the experience. This
has been thought to be the case for some time but the study now shows
scientific proof. This is good news for your personal growth and
For the brain, remembering is a lot like doing. This is powerful! When
you realize this is how the brain works, you can use this knowledge to
your advantage. It has been believed that your brain does not know the
difference between an actual occurrence, a memory or specific thought
about a possibility.
In this new study conducted by a team of American and Israeli
researchers, they were able to pinpoint the location of mini-storms of
brain activity that occurred with the initial action as well as the
later recall of it. They were able to show that both occurred in the
same brain cells concentrated around the hippocampus region of the
It has been found in other research that the brain does not really know
the difference between an imagined action, a real one or the memory of
either. Similar to how you can affect your body and mind from input to
one or the other. It has been commonly known that you can train your
body to do specific motions through your thoughts, and it has been shown
that you can affect your thought by specific physical movement of you
body. In other words, an athlete can train their mind to control the
body by physically doing an activity in exactly the way you want and the
brain will learn how this is done.
All of this continues to build support for how you can direct your
thoughts and actions through visualization and affirmation. There is now
more proof that the memory of and the actual occurrence of something are
no different in your mind. This leads to your being able to pre-program
your mind to ‘know’ specific things without them actually happening yet.
Your brain will allow you to do something, which it knows, easier than
When you create a powerful vivid imagined scenario in your mind, backed
by appropriate emotions, you can program your mind much like it has
actually occurred. Your mind likes to do what it is familiar with, so if
you create this familiarity with clear emotionally backed thought your
brain acts as though it has happened. It is easier to do again what you
are familiar with. There is a natural hesitation to what your brain does
not know, so make it known and familiar through your imagination.
Familiarizing your brain with what you want through emotion backed
visualization and affirmations acts to program it for desirable
situations making them easier to do again and again. Also your
unconscious mind and inner self attempt to support and assist the
thoughts you hold. Just like the more you physically practice a sports
technique the more your mind helps you fulfill the desire, your mind
will attempt to help fulfill thoughts of any clear desires.
Learning how your brain works helps you to understand how you can use it
to your advantage. After all, it will be doing these things anyway, why
not direct them to your wants and needs? Use tools such as affirmations,
visualization, treasure maps, writing your story, act as though, or
anything that can help familiarize your mind with what you want.
Remember, use thoughts of what you DO want, not what you don’t want or
like. Your mind will act to support whatever you think about with
emotion and clarity – good or bad!
John Halderman, for more daily growth and self discovery tools and
methods – http://www.effectivepersonaldevelopmentblog.com