We wake up in the morning and it starts. Well, it actually never stopped. Our brains are marvellous. They’re on all the time, processing millions of pieces of information and dealing with about 95% of it without us even realising. Most of our thinking happens subconsciously.
Our brains automate as much as possible. Notice how you go through the motions “without thinking”? Your morning routine, your drive to work, and thousands of other processes you repeat on a regular basis. Notice how you remember without telling yourself to remember. Notice how “little” you think day-to-day. And then notice what you do think about. What kind of thoughts live in your conscious thinking?
Thinking with Emotion
Our emotions are hugely powerful when it comes to our thinking and our decisions. You see, the emotional part of our brain is well developed and highly complex. It’s existed for longer than our conscious thinking part of our brains. Some people call it our mammal brain. Others call it the chimp brain. It’s the part of the brain that reacts and makes decisions for us. All decisions we make are emotional ones. We will then rationalise the emotional decision through logical argument using data and facts we’ve collected.
Think about the big decisions we make in our life. Buying a house, a car, choosing who we marry, who we date, who we fall in love with. These things that really matter are all “gut” decisions. That’s our emotions making the decisions and then we look for data to back it up. We make lists for our perfect match, and then throw it out the window when we “feel” the connection we want with someone. We walk around a prospective home and then buy based on how we imaging it will feel to live there.
We also think with our emotions when we react adversely to someone or something. How often do you “run your mouth” before thinking of what you’re saying? How often do you wish you could take back something you said in the heat of the moment? That was our emotions getting the best of us.
Thinking Beyond Emotion
So sometimes our emotions are helpful. They guide us towards making decisions on the important things in our lives. But as you know, they can also cause us difficulty. When we have negative emotions and make decisions or take actions based on them, it can lead us down a path we don’t want to follow. So what can you do?
The good news is that the first step is as easy as counting to 10.
You see, the brain takes about 7 seconds to flush through the chemicals of the emotion. So when your grandmother and your mother told you to count to 10 when you were angry or upset, they were onto something that neuroscience has now proven.
Count to 10, and then choose whether it’s going to be better to open your mouth or bite your tongue. Whatever comes out will be something you’ve had “time” to consider and be aware of the potential consequences. Hopefully, you will have made a conscious choice in those 10 seconds to speak kindly and with a bit more self-control that what otherwise might have happened. You will have made a choice to stick with the person you want to be, in alignment with your values and what’s important to you.
Thinking with Your Intuition
When we make the choice to think and respond, and react as the person we want to be, we’ve taken a breath that’s allowed us to tap into our inner voice, our intuition. That’s the voice that tells you not to react in the heat of the moment.
Some call it your voice of wisdom. Others call it your guardian angel. Whatever you call it, it exists inside you and is a voice that can and will guide you into moving more towards love, peace and belonging rather than anger, war and abandonment. The trick is knowing that it’s there, and then learning to listen for it, especially in moments of high emotion.
Your thoughts create your reality. It’s important to pay attention to what you are thinking and how you are thinking. Use your emotions wisely. In the whirlwind of negativity, take the few seconds you need to compose yourself and listen to your voice within. Speak with love and kindness over fear and anger. Find stillness in the murky waters of your everyday life. Carve out time to let the silt settle to the bottom so you can see the clear water.
Are your thoughts creating the life you want? If not, change your thoughts. Contact me about some one-to-one coaching if you want to learn more about understanding where you want to focus your thoughts and why you get swept away from being who you want to be.