Along with unquestionably trusting our own thoughts, we seem to attach great importance to them, as if they convey something more than mere ideas, as if the thoughts themselves reflect who we are. I don’t really think the world is coming to an end or that people can fly, but what if the thought passes through my mind? Am I responsible for it? Do I have to defend it? Am I what I think?
What if, for example, a thought passes through your mind about harming someone? Perhaps someone who has been annoying you at work or the person who just cut you off on the road. The thought pops in your head: “I hope that person gets a ticket” or “I wish that person dies.” This is not a thought-out, meticulous plan of how you'll harm someone but a random, out-of-nowhere thought.
While we would hate to admit that such a thought even crosses our mind, the truth is that this and others—perhaps more benign ones—do occur. The question is, are you a murderer for thinking this thought? Does the thought itself make you an awful person?
Despite the trending “Think Positive” slogan, which has led many of us to erroneously believe we can decide which thoughts to think (i.e. thinking only so-called positive thoughts), we can’t actually control our thoughts. If we could, wouldn’t we all just choose happy, pleasant thoughts all the time?
No, contrary to popular belief, thoughts apparently just happen. And, it’s not what you think that makes you who you are or determines your path in life, it’s what you do with the thoughts that show up. My recommendation? Make it a practice to notice your thoughts. Decide for yourself which ones to believe and which ones to leave. Don’t try to stop your thoughts; it’s a futile waste of time. Instead, intentionally develop the thoughts, ideas, and plans that are useful to you, those that align with who you truly are.
May you always experience the freedom of knowing your own thoughts,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
P.S. Not sure what I mean? Need support with learning how to notice your thoughts or dealing with challenging ones? Contact me for a free consultation, schedule a private session, or leave a comment below.