How to Train Your Thoughts: Part 1 – Notice What You’re Thinking

by Crystal Belle on December 14, 2011

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” -Buddha

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“Change your thoughts, and you change your world.” -Norman Vincent Peale

To begin to live the life we’ve always dreamed of, we must first change our thinking. If there’s anything about your life that you’re not happy with, good news! All it takes is a shift in your thoughts to begin to change it. So many of us, however, believe that if we just keep doing what we’re doing, eventually something will change and life will just “get better” because we want it to.

“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” -Albert Einstein

Or, to paraphrase another quote, when we think what we’ve always thought, we’ll get what we’ve always got.

Our minds run rampant with thoughts, and until we begin the process of controlling our thinking, we’re left at their mercy. The first step in controlling our thoughts is to notice what we’re thinking. Until we can step aside and be the observer of our thoughts instead of actively caught up in thinking them, we can’t begin to control them.

Our minds like to operate in ‘stealth mode’ making us forget that there is a thinker behind the thoughts, a thinker who can choose which thoughts to think!

1. Pay attention to every thought and feeling that doesn’t feel good. For me, in the beginning, this was a lot of thoughts. I lived in a lot of mental pain, but I was determined to turn it around. Don’t stress about how long this will take or how many thoughts don’t feel good, just begin slowly and notice the ones that make you feel uncomfortable, less-than, defeated, angry, jealous, fearful, etc.

Note: Simply noticing the thoughts is a great leap on the road to Nirvana, since you’re separating yourself from them in a powerful way.

2. Don’t judge your thoughts. Our thoughts are not personal, they’re merely following the patterns of what we’ve allowed ourselves to think before. Having bad thoughts doesn’t make us bad people. We are not “more inclined” to have bad thoughts than anyone else. We merely have patterns of allowing the thoughts or rejecting them. The more we allow them, the more those negative thoughts will come to us. The more often we think positive thoughts, the more positive thoughts will come, and the less frequent negative ones will be able to “make purchase” and settle in. This is a process, and we must consciously choose to think better thoughts before better thoughts will come to us- but don’t judge. Just notice.

“If thoughts or ideas are not really ‘mine, then whence do they arise and who is their author? Actually, they don’t have a ‘who’ of origin at all but instead merely arise from a ‘what’. The content of calibratable field of consciousness is like a thought bank regimented by a specific energy field of a level of the collective consciousness of mankind. Similar thoughts, concepts, and ideas congregate at various levels and are orchestrated under the influence of the attention of the central ‘attractor field’ that, like gravity, attracts ideas of similar gravity or density.” -David Hawkins PhD

3. Practice self-compassion. Merely observing a negative thought is an incredible advancement in consciousness. If you then berate yourself for thinking it, or being stuck in a negative thought pattern, you’re taking yourself back into the spiral of negativity.

Honor yourself for doing this work. Honor yourself for being brave enough to watch your negative thoughts. Honor yourself for beginning to change what you’re thinking and cultivate positivity. Honor yourself for becoming the person you want to be, one thought at a time!

4. Ask yourself, “Is this thought necessary? What can I think that’s better?” I love asking these questions because they immediately stop my negative thoughts in their tracks. I go from “Yikes, this is so bad, I wonder what I’m going to do about this?” to “Wow, what can I love about this situation? What’s the best possible thing that can come from this?” which is way more fun.

Anytime I’m tempted to think a negative thought, I a) notice that it doesn’t feel good, b) honor myself for catching it, and c) ask myself, “What can I think about that I love? What can I think about that makes me feel good? Those negative thoughts no longer have a place- the “thinker behind the thoughts” is too occupied creating the life she loves and wants to pay attention to those negative thoughts that hold her back.

“All truly wise thoughts have been thoughts already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.” -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“Let the wise guard their thoughts, which are difficult to perceive, extremely subtle, and wander at will. Thought which is well guarded is the bearer of happiness.” -Buddha

In my next post, I’ll talk about turning around the old thoughts and beliefs that seem to come back again and again, and have a lot of emotion attached to them.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa December 14, 2011 at 8:27 am

Awesome Belle! True true true, in my experience as well. My teacher suggests having a homing thought to grab onto when we notice we’ve lost our peace because of a negative thought- something we believe like ‘I am supported by the Universe’ or ‘I am worthy of good things’ ..
Lots of love. -Lisa

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Belle December 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Yes! I have my own “homing thoughts” but I didn’t have that beautiful phrase for them. Now I have a name to use! Thank you! <3

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Rose Rilling December 14, 2011 at 9:29 am

HI Belle,
Your topic is timely for me. I have a thought that is not positive, yet every day, and I mean every day, I think about it. It is a thought of lack. I am very aware of what I am doing so I have the first isue resolved now I have to move to replace that negative lacking thought with something positive. I do feel stuck.
Rose

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Belle December 15, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Thank you for sharing this Rose. I have felt “stuck” in a few different thoughts, and I’ll share what I did to turn them around in tomorrow’s post. It can be painful to experience the same thought over and over again, and absolutely necessary to relieve that pain. I see you free from this sticky thought and gloriously happy without it!

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Kathleen Leone December 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

I love this idea and absolutely believe in it’s efficacy. Thank you Belle for bringing it to people’s attentions and sharing your wisdom! I am so grateful that I found your website. I look forward to reading each post you do!

Thank you lovely Soul!

Kitty

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Belle December 16, 2011 at 12:28 am

Thank you Kitty! I look forward to your lovely comments and invaluable feedback! <3
Love,
Belle

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Kim December 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Great post! Thanks

The only thing that I wonder about is…when I know that a thought is not necesarry, and I focus on something positive. That negative thought is still there in the background, even if I’m focussing on the surroundings or something, that negative thought is still there right behind it, if you know what I mean, popping up to the foreground at any opportunity it gets. And I don’t really know what to do about that.

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Belle December 16, 2011 at 12:30 am

Thank you for sharing your experience Kim! I do know what you mean. For me, when I observe this happening, it’s because a part of my ego doesn’t REALLY want to give up that thought. Part of my ego is “hanging on” to that negative one, waiting for me to get done with my little positive thing so it can go back to being in control. Our egos are like toddlers!

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Caroline December 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

So true Belle. I’ve learned that negative self-thinking is very destructive and recognizing and turning those thoughts around is the most freeing thing I’ve ever done for myself.

During that time of learning I had a very wise respiratory specialist write me the most astounding and thought provoking perscription I’ve ever had. He pulled out his pad, wrote something on it (I assumed yet another drug) “love yourself”. Instant tears…as he explained that often asthma had an emotional quality to it as well as the physical and he liked to treat both!!!

While there are still days that I don’t particularly love my body (I have severe fibromyalgia) I have learned to accept the way it lets me know that I need to listen and take time for myself and rest. I turn that thought around to “yippee, a drink copious amounts of herbal tea and read on the chaise lounge day”.

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JeanG. December 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Belle, thank you for an excellent subject to ponder, take action, resolve. Your comment about a belief that..”if we keep doing what we’re doing, something will change….” brings to my mind a simple rhythmic saying I’ve heard for many years (and I don’t recall who said it)…”If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Love your “Don’t Judge Your Thoughts”…thank you for that!! Blessingsxxx

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Julie Norman December 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm

As always, great stuff.! I love your unique and contemporary spins on the tried and true ancient wisdom. Keep it going:)

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Claire January 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Thanks Belle. I made myself a flashcard. Don’t stop. You help!

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Belle January 19, 2012 at 12:06 am

Thank you Claire!! ♥

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