1. We think roughly 60,000 thoughts a day
Those are 60,000 (!) thoughts that rush through our minds, day in, day out. Fun fact: that is even 10,000 more than the number of grains of rice in a kilo bag of rice. Do I need to say more? Yes, I do actually. We also recycle the vast majority of those 60,000. The thoughts that are torturing you today are probably not new. Just think about it. Are there thoughts that go through your head over and over and over again? And those are only the thoughts that you are currently aware of. We are usually not even aware of most of them. That is, as long as we ourselves do nothing to create more awareness in this.
2. Helpers and non-helpers
During one of the Mind Development Program sessions, one of the participants asked me: “But isn’t it true that not all our thoughts have a negative impact on us? Sometimes I also think very useful things. Like yesterday, when I forgot to lock my front door and it suddenly came to my mind on the way to my car.’’ And he was absolutely right.
To understand a little bit more about what’s going on in that head of ours, it’s easy to divide our thoughts into two different “types”: we have helping and non-helping thoughts. Remembering that you haven’t locked your door while you would have liked to lock it, is a good example of a helping thought: “Oh, I think I forgot to lock the door, good thing I’m thinking about it now.’’ A non-helping thought could be: “Phew, I forget to lock the door again, now I have to go all the way back again and I was already running out of time, I will be late too, pfff , why does this always happen to me?”. I don’t think I have to explain the different effects these two types of thoughts have on us, right?
3. None of our thoughts are ‘suddenly’ there
Pretty special, isn’t it, that those 60,000 thoughts just suddenly come to mind? But actually it isn’t entirely coincidental. Or rather, the thoughts we think do not come to us by chance. They all have a certain origin. A place where they come from, which is our beliefs.
Beliefs can be seen as a kind of “stories” that we tell ourselves. Stories about our relationship with our family, friends, our partners, children, work, money, time and even ourselves. We have beliefs about every aspect of our lives. Beliefs are very good to have, because a belief ensures that you do or don’t do things, that you start moving or that you just stay put. They are the driving forces behind our existence.
The deceitfulness of beliefs is that our reliance on them is so strong that they feel like truth. But what we often don’t realize is that they are only our truth. They are not an absolute truth, not an established fact, but it certainly feels that way. A belief is different from an opinion, which we often realize very well that it is only our opinion and that other people may have a different opinion. A belief goes much deeper. Our beliefs often arise at a young age, between the ages of 0-7 years, and originate from a combination of our upbringing, what we experience during our lives and what we learn by observing other people.
And just as with our thoughts, not all of the beliefs we have are beliefs that help us move forward. Unfortunately, it often happens that in childhood we have acquired certain beliefs that will work against us in later life. For example, the belief that ‘you have to work hard to be successful in life’ is one that can cause many problems later in life, as it makes it easy to lose sight of what really matters to us.
“You have the power in the present moment to change limiting beliefs and consciously plant the seeds for the future of your choosing. As you change your mind, you change your experience.”
– Serge King
4. Our thoughts can be like fuel to our inner fire
Did you know that your thoughts and feelings have a lot in common? You could actually think of them a bit as brother and sister, because they come from the same source: your beliefs. From your beliefs you create certain thoughts, and with that thoughts come certain emotions. You could see your emotions as the physical expression of your thoughts.
It can also happen the other way around; from your beliefs come certain emotions and with that emotion come certain thoughts. Sounds logical so far, right? And yet we do not always realize that it are our own thoughts that are upsetting us so much. In fact, with our thoughts, we often throw a little more fuel to our inner fire. I’ll give you an example.
Imagine you have agreed with a friend to have a bite to eat. Just before you want to leave your house, she calls you to tell her that she unfortunately has to cancel, because something important has come up. When you hang up the phone you notice that you feel a little upset and rejected. All kinds of thoughts arise. “Seriously, couldn’t she let you know a little earlier? What could be so important at the last minute? Nice, though. I will pull this trick on her sometime, she will not be amused.” While all these thoughts are racing through your head, you notice that now anger and frustration are also arising. And immediately afterwards you are a bit shocked by yourself. “Oops, what is this now? This isn’t nice to think, she probably didn’t do it on purpose. Why do I even think this about her?” Besides feeling upset, rejected and angry, you now also feel very guilty.
Do you see how easily this happens?
It is never the situation itself that releases all kinds of feelings and emotions in us. It is our thoughts abóut the situation that do that.
5. Problems don’t exist
HO! STOP! Wait a second. Before you think “Here we go again, another person who will tell me that I’m the cause of my own problems” and click this blog away, please hear me out.
I am not saying that we can never experience something as a problem. I’m just saying they don’t actually exist. What our mind is master at is turning situations into problems. But did you know that this is only possible when we project ourselves onto the past or the future? In the here and now – this moment, the seconds in which you are reading this – a situation can never be a problem.
A situation only becomes a problem when we come up with all kinds of things by taking ourselves out of the present moment and projecting ourselves onto the past or the future. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, it doesn’t matter what circumstances we are in, in the ‘now’ we always only have 2 options: yes or no. To do or not to do. Take action or take no action. Everything else our mind comes up with to turn a situation into a problem is 100% a projection of our mind onto the past or the future.
6. That ever-afraid and pessimistic friend in our head
And last but not least, there is our great friend, the Ego. The Ego – not to be confused with being egocentric or selfish – is part of our unconscious mind. The Ego works in a rather complex way, but I will try to give you as short and simple an explanation as possible.
You can see the Ego as a kind of eternally scared and pessimistic friend who lives inside your head. He lives there to protect our self-image and the thinking structures that distinguish us, and give us meaning as individuals. It is its job to protect us from anything that can cause any damage or discomfort to our own images, ideas and structures.
That doesn’t all sound so bad. And basically it isn’t. The problem with the Ego arises the moment we identify with these images, ideas and structures. It becomes a problem when we believe that these images, ideas and structures are who and what we are.
When we attach ourselves to these frames; our ideas and our structures, because we believe that is who we are, we will do everything we can to protect ‘ourselves’, thereby creating our own suffering.
How this is expressed can take an infinite number of different forms, but it is always visible in our behavior. It is therefore important to learn to see where it is not us, but the Ego who is in charge. By learning to see through this, we can free ourselves from what supports our unhelpful behavior patterns, and consciously make a choice that will help us move forward.
Do you now understand what I meant in the first paragraph with those bothering aspects of our minds 😉? Our mind really is bittersweet. An incredibly powerful tool, but one with a interesting manual if you ask me. I cannot tell you what that manual looks like for you, but I do have something really cool for you with which will help you to get to know your own manual: MIND DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE.
Will I see you there?