I recently graduated from Lotus Group of Institutions College. It was challenging to earn the degree but I did the work required because this was one of the goals I have for myself. During my time at the college I learned many things about finance, accounting, and business. Everything I learned while pursuing my master’s will enrich my life and career. Yet, one of the most important lessons I am learning, that was not part of my formal education, is my mind has a mind of its own. Meaning, my mind thinks all the time, but I am not always aware of my thoughts. Therefore I am often unaware of how my thinking impacts my attitudes and behavior.
For example, one day when studying for my degree I actually noticed my mind wandering away from what I needed to concentrate on in the moment. I became aware my mind was drifting between what I was studying and thoughts about my landlord, to a career I desire to have, to a recent event. With this awareness I comprehended that my mind must do this, all the time. I then realized if I am paying attention to what I am doing – studying – I am in control of my attention rather than being distracted by what my mind wants to think about. Meaning, when my mind wanders I can re-direct it to think about what I need to think about – studying, cleaning, cooking, speaking with a friend – without being distracted by thoughts that are not relevant to what I am doing in the moment.
When I first experienced this realization, about the power my thoughts have over me, it was hard to accept. Probably because my mind immediately came up with a rationalization to defend the thoughts it had. As I started to pay close attention to what I was thinking I began to understand my thoughts are often made up based upon some personal bias, or on something I have been taught to believe that was never true, or on the opinion of others. Being aware of what I am thinking I now see many of my thoughts limit me with fear, self-doubt, and misinformation.
For instance, there are people who believe the earth is flat. Science tells us the earth is round. If I think the earth is flat and do not question that belief then I am allowing myself to be controlled by an illogical and incorrect thought. Questioning my thoughts is very important because, to create my best life I need to accept that, because I “think” something, does not mean my mind has the right answer. To live a life of purposeful action, I realize how important it is for me to stay focused on my thoughts by asking, is this thought true, necessary, and logical? I am learning that staying aware to ask myself these type questions allows me to accept I am not without power over my thoughts. This is important because our thoughts create our behavior and our behavior creates our life.
I need to challenge my thoughts because what if the actions my mind directs are not logical, true, honest, etc.? What if my thoughts are judgmental, blaming, or cause me to feel jealous? Shouldn’t I ask myself why I am jealous of someone? When I feel insecure about what other people think of me, shouldn’t I challenge the thought that I care what people think of me more than what I think about myself? Why am I judging myself or someone else? Why do I jump to conclusions without seeking evidence?
My mind will think until I pass away because that is what our mind does. While writing this piece my mind tells me there is no hurry to finish. That I can do this at my leisure. Why? If I want to complete this in a timely manner, why should I be influenced by the thought to finish in a few weeks or a month? What is the motivation behind the thought? To get it done later rather than earlier? But if I want to do something the best I can, then I have to tell my mind to mind its own business so l can concentrate on what I need and want to do in the time I want to do it. I have to overrule my mind that is in making excuses, in order for me to do my best.
When I ask myself simple questions about what I am thinking, the integrity and empathy of my heart can analyze my thoughts to determine if what I am thinking is productive and positive, or not.
My friend Regina is teaching me to listen to the aware, responsible, and logical presence within me, and within all of us that has the power to question our thoughts, to challenge our beliefs, and to make the best decisions to create our best life. The hard part is training ourselves to stay aware of our thoughts, when we are thinking them, so we can determine if what we are thinking is valuable or not. I am learning this is a mastery. Like any skill we must practice and practice. But with determination we can do it because being in charge of our mind and the thoughts it creates allows us to stay present in the moment.
When we are present and aware of our thoughts to analyze what we are thinking, we are able to use the integrity of our heart to help guide our actions. I am learning when we lead with our heart we are responsible for our mind that has a mind of its own.