By Dana Leipold
My daughter came to me recently very concerned about Monkeypox. She told me it’s running rampant and that we should all seriously reconsider going out in public places until the authorities have it under control.
Many of us might react like this because of what we’ve been through with COVID-19, but even if Monkeypox does spiral into another pandemic—panicking about it won’t help (remember the great toilet paper hoarding of 2020?)
Now, my daughter is a very sensitive and socially-concerned young woman. I admire her sense of responsibility and compassion, but she also spends a lot of time reading click-bait, shock headlines designed to grab eyeballs. We discussed this, and why it’s important for her to be aware of what she feeds her mind. Because, as she admitted, what she reads and views affects her state of mind.
It’s also true for all of us: what we feed our minds is important because whether we admit it or not, it does affect our mood and behavior.
Your Subconscious is Listening
The subconscious mind has a habit of taking everything literally. It captures everything and doesn’t think or reason independently. It cannot differentiate between negative and positive.
Scientific research estimates that 95 percent of our brain’s activity is unconscious,(1). That means the majority of the decisions we make, the actions we take, our emotions and behaviors lie beyond conscious awareness.
What’s even more mind-boggling (pun intended), your subconscious mind’s primary function is to follow the instructions of the conscious mind, and it does this by proving that whatever the conscious mind believes, is true. In other words, the job of the subconscious mind is to prove the conscious mind is always right.
If you consciously believe that you can’t be, do or have something, then you are always right. The subconscious mind will get to work and create the circumstances and find the people to prove that you are right.
If you remember that your subconscious mind is always listening, you might be more careful what you read, view, and even tell yourself.
Your Thoughts Create Your Experience
Taking this a step further, whatever you think is true then.
Because your thoughts create your experiences and you experience what you think, the quality of your thoughts is what determines the quality of your life. But, thoughts alone have no power.
It’s only when we actively invest our attention in thoughts that they begin to seem real.
Take an example: you are trying to learn how to play the piano. You’ve never done it before and you are struggling with it. You might think to yourself, “I’ll never learn how to play the piano because I’m not good at it.”
You then attach emotions to that thought. You feel discouraged, frustrated, and unmotivated.
How does your body react to this? You sulk, slump your shoulders.
Then your behavior reflects all of this. You likely won’t keep trying to play the piano because you believe that you’ll never be good at it.
You can practice observing your thoughts, like you would watch clouds in the sky. Creating distance from a thought and not getting entangled in it can help you decide if it’s a thought you want to “believe” or not.
You Get to Choose…so Choose Well
It’s easy to understand why many people feel out of control or like something external has all the control when you begin to learn more about the unconscious mind and thoughts. But there is one very powerful thing we all have, and that we can all use: choice.
We get to decide what we allow into our subconscious mind.
We can doom scroll all day long, looking at shocking headlines and all the terrible things happening around us. We can allow all of it to seep into the corners of our mind and generate thoughts that might overwhelm us.
OR we can be discerning about what we read and watch, knowing it all has an affect on our state of mind, perception, and behavior. We can decide to take in positive, empowering information.
We can choose which thoughts we want to believe.
We can look at thoughts as things that come from our minds all the time but realize they don’t mean anything until we decide they do. We can even reframe thoughts that don’t serve us in a positive way. This is where your real power lies. I work with my clients in reframing their mindset and thoughts and I’ve seen amazing shifts in their quality of life.
Try practicing observing your thoughts right now. Download a free guided meditation focused on thought observation. It’s like a muscle, the more you do it the better you get at not believing everything you think!