7 Practical Ways to Become Aware of Your Thoughts
The first thing I do every time I sit down to put my thoughts on ‘paper’ - be it journaling, blogging, writing, or scripting - is to close my eyes and center myself to hear what my inner voice is saying to me. When I did that for today’s blog, I sensed not just one thought crossed my mind, but many topical thoughts, that I opened my eyes thinking “I should just postpone this session until next time”. But I knew that wouldn’t work, next time it would be the same overwhelming flood of thoughts. Now these were all great topics but as I sat still for a minute, this question became profound in me - what have you been thinking about?
So let me throw the question to you dearest reader. What have you been thinking about? If I were to magically see your thoughts like how Marvel makes us wish we could, what would I have the privilege of seeing, reading, knowing. I will not spend these next few minutes focused on what many books out there have diligently and excellently outlined to help you catch your thoughts. Oh by the way, simply google ‘books on the mind’ and you will find thousands of them. Sidebar me if you’d like my recommendations.
What I want to spend the next few minutes sharing and inspiring you to do is something I personally walk in everyday to help me master the overwhelming thoughts that plague my mind daily. If you haven’t noticed, you are in demand! If you are not in the habit of comparing, then believe that you are in demand because comparing yourself to someone else would either confirm your thoughts of ‘you not doing enough’ and thus you need to do more to measure up… that's a topic for another time, right? Right!
Ok, let us go back to the question “what have you been thinking about?” The next meal you are going to eat? The family dynamics of keeping everyone on task with their schedules including yourself? The household to do lists that you try to keep up with? The reminders that you need to check off? The friendship dates you need to schedule? The time you need to get so many things done? How about right now? Are you even present as you read this blog? Or you are skim reading? [Yes, I am giggling as I can see some of you skimming]
Just for kicks I googled ‘how many thoughts per day’ and guess what? Some researchers stated 6,200 - 7000 thoughts per day, others had numbers as high as 70000!!! Yikes. But who's counting? All I know is that I am probably aware of only a small fraction of whatever thoughts I have per day. There is a difference between ‘thoughts you have and thoughts you are aware of’.
So again let's rephrase the initial question to “which of your thoughts are you aware of right now?” I bet when you clicked on this blog you did not expect a coaching session! But you are here so you might as well do some work [ok, smile].
Remember this about your thoughts - your being and being present with yourself [which includes your heart and mind], and others are influenced by your thoughts, your environment [this includes people, places, and things], your feelings, your memories, your sensations and your biological posture [including the things you eat]. Becoming aware is not easy because we live very stretched and full lives.
Here are some practical ways you can become aware of your thoughts:
Actively quiet your physical environment… turn off the stereo, get inside your closet, turn off the TV.
Intentionally schedule a quiet session where you are away from the physical noise.
Practice reflection pauses where you reflect on the last few hours of your being and take note of what your thought patterns were.
Get to your inner self - your heart and sense how your heart is connecting with your mind. What are the connected points? Where are the disconnects?
Assess how you feel moment to moment and retrace the thoughts that got you feeling the way you feel.
Turn your positive and negative thoughts into prayer points and pray them out of your head [this is my personal favorite].
Consciously focus on your thoughts from moment to moment. You cannot focus on all of them but you can choose which ones you allow to influence your being and being present with others [this is the hardest because you are going against how your brain works].
In all the practical ways shared above, what do you do with the thoughts you are able to become aware of? That's up to you, really. For some this would mean purging those thoughts in a journal, with a trusted friend or partner, with God, with a parent etc. For some this would mean slowly accepting that there is a pattern in which you think - positive most of the time, negative most of the time, motivating most of the time, life building most of the time, or fruitless most of the time. For some this would mean engaging in some self development work!
What have you been thinking about? Which of your thoughts are you aware of right now? Don’t just read and move forward into the same old ways of relating - with self and with others. Pick one practical step and put it into action. And if you would like to expand on that, then take the next step and seek guidance.
Remember, you’ve got to start from the inside out to master the overwhelming thoughts that make you feel how you are feeling. Before you get to self-development, you must engage in self-reflection and self-awareness which would then take you into self-development [self-reflection + self-awareness = self-development].
Yours in FREEdom,