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Is Your Mind Controlling You? How to Get Rid Of Bad Thoughts And Stay Present

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Control your Mind

Your thoughts are on the front line when it comes to your life. They are the foundation for everything. At the most fundamental level, a positive mind is the springboard for action, inspiration, and a life that is full of joy, love, and peace. A positive mind allows you to live fully in the present moment.

Bad thoughts are bound to arise from time to time, they just have to be dealt with in a healthy and appropriate way. Most of them arise from worries about events that have already been and gone, or worries about the immediate future, or even from worries about life decades down the line.

Whatever the source of your bad thoughts, you should know that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts do not even really belong to you. You are simply an observer. When you experience a bad thought, you should imagine it as a cloud above your head that is drifting away from you.

If you can exercise a certain amount of detachment, a negative thought can quickly be acknowledged, dealt with, and your mind can return to the present moment. Most of the time, you will come to realize that the thought only represented a fear, or that the perceived problem was self-created by the thought itself.

When bad thoughts arise too often, they become like a plague on your mind. They can create tension in your relationships, in your job, and within your own being, if they are not properly dealt with. You can take back control, starting right now.

Below, are a few ways you can start to take back control of your life:

1. Honest Communication

Thoughts are not supposed to be got rid of, even if they are negative. It is important that you embrace all of your thoughts and emotions in a healthy and natural way. This requires proper communication with others. Sometimes you just have to get it all off your chest!

There is never a need to blow your lid off. Simmer down and communicate well, with an open and honest approach. Try to question the root of your negative thoughts, and always consider whether your own perceptions are at least a little at fault.

2. Flip The Thought

Over time, your brain learns how to behave, and thoughts and feelings become like an inbuilt reaction. On a neurological level, this is exactly what is happening. When you think negatively about something, be it yourself, another person, or a certain situation, you reinforce a certain pathway in your brain.

It is possible, with effort and inspiration, to consciously rewire your brain, and lead your mind gently away from bad thoughts. A clever technique for this is to “flip your thought.” It is futile, and unhealthy, to try to pretend that a bad thought never occurred. Instead you should aim to recognize it, and then lead yourself down a more positive trail of thought soon after.

For example, if you have a bad thought about another person, you can make yourself think of something nice about them. Ask yourself, “what do I like about this person?” You will have to force it at first, but your positivity will eventually solidify. You can do this for any negative thought.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

3. Using Affirmations And Positive Language

The barriers of the conscious mind, which contain all of your learnt negativity, can be bypassed using affirmations, which breach the subconscious and deliver inspiring and positive messages.

You can create and repeat positive messages to yourself. Feel free to craft your own to suit your exact situation. It may seem daft if you have never tried it before, but it works, of that you can be sure. Repeat it to yourself in the morning, and last thing at night, until you feel it settle in and replace your negative thoughts.

Staying In the Moment: The Perpetual Loop Of Positivity

A negative mind can prevent you from living in the present. If you attach yourself to your bad thoughts, then you will soon drift off into a daydream of negativity. The trick is to acknowledge the thought, and let it drift on by. In order that bad thought does not consume you, it can be dealt with in a healthy way using the techniques mentioned: honest communication, control over your trail of thought, and affirmations.

When you have a certain amount of control over your mind, you will have a much easier time living in the present. When you are living in the present your life will likely feel much happier, fuller, and more peaceful, and so the positive loop perpetuates.

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” – Jack Kornfield

How to Stay In The Present 

There are several ways in which you can learn to become fully present. Ancient techniques such as meditation have been gaining continuous scientific validation, and today people all across the world are applying it, and seeing miraculous benefits. With meditation, you can gain further control of your mind, and live a more focused, positive life.

Meditation is a practice, and like any practice, you must put in the time and energy to learn how to do it, and to truly feel the results. You would not play the piano and instantly expect to learn Mozart, so be patient with yourself, and know that you will see positive change in time.

Anyone can partake in meditation, regardless of your faith, or your life situation. All it requires is your own focus. You can adapt at as you please, and with experience you will no longer need it as a template.

Meditation is a great tool for freeing yourself from negative thought, by staying in the present moment. Regular meditation tends to lead to improvements in all areas of life, including your mind and your happiness.

By dealing with your negative thoughts, and staying present in the moment, you can take control of your mind.

Is your mind controlling you? What have you done to take back control of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Sarah Williams is a lifestyle blogger and online entrepreneur who shares her ideas about  how to date better on her blog: Wingman Magazine. Her ultimate goal is to empower men to become the best versions of themselves and help them benefit from social interactions. She is passionate about powerful, conscious living.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avneet Singh

    Apr 4, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    I think controlling your thoughts and emotions and your whole mental state is a really crutial thing everyone must master.

  2. praveen jain

    Jan 6, 2017 at 7:38 am

    the best way as u told is to detach from those thoughts.. tge best way is to practice Vipassana meditation.. it really helps

  3. Jaskaran Sanghara

    Jan 2, 2017 at 2:11 am

    This is a good article, I truly do believe meditation is a great tool and something I’m still trying to work on

  4. JoseIgnacio

    Jan 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Thank you and
    Happy new year.

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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