Do you want to transform something in your life?
Maybe you want to discover more balance, more love, more peace or more joy?
If so, then this article is written for you. Because understanding this one thing can shift your life and help you create the transformation you’re looking for.
In today’s post, I’m going to share with you this powerful way to change our thought patterns in order to have a positive impact on our experience of reality.
Understanding Thought Patterns
Sometimes we think of our thoughts as though they were automatic. Because many of our thoughts are actually automatic, but many are not.
We might even believe that we are our thoughts.
But we aren’t.
We can influence the self-speak which we listen to once we understand that we have a choice.
Thoughts are constantly being generated by our brain and each thought creates a pathway. The more times a specific pathway is used the more likely it is that our brain will choose that pathway.
So someone who repetitively thinks a sorrowful thought will be more likely to think those thoughts. It is the job of the brain to keep sending thoughts, continually.
And because it favours well-used pathways, the brain will offer up repetitive thought patterns which will feel safe to us.
Even if they are actually our saboteurs. We will still feel comfortable thinking those thoughts because it’s following the pattern we’ve always followed.
Oftentimes, our thoughts are created and based on past experience.
So when X happened to us in the past, our brain created a story around that experience in an effort to keep us from having it happen again.
To keep us safe.
But in our modern world, we are interested in growth, not purely in survival, so these ‘safe’ patterns are often not in our best interests.
But once a pattern begins it gains momentum and becomes a fall-back system.
And so a thought pattern is born, to be repeated time and time again unless we become conscious of our thoughts and take action.
Studies show that we have an average of 60,000 thoughts per day, and that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative while 95% are repetitive.
Gosh, that’s a lot of repetition! Just imagine if we become more aware and are able to stop much of the automated repetition!
When we become aware of our thoughts and how they affect our reality, we open up a new ability to change our behaviour and our experience of reality.
Creating New Neural Pathways
If we choose positive, proactive thoughts to replace a redundant thought pattern, we begin to build new neural pathways.
And the more we repeat similar thought patterns, the more automated it will become.
Intentional happiness can literally multiply your baseline joy.
Likewise in reverse, if we choose negative thought patterns, it becomes more and more likely that we will react negatively in a difficult situation as we strengthen those neural pathways.
So left to our own devices, we will become more of whatever we start with. Negative may become more negative and positive more positive. We also feel ‘safe’ in these thinking zones because that’s what our brain tells us is the normal way to be.
When we recognise our brain as a muscle and don’t believe everything it tells us, then we can start to train it just as we do our other muscles.
Intentional Thinking To Shift Your Reality Video
Practical Exercises for Thought Transformation
It sounds simple but it’s a skill which isn’t easy by any means. When you first start out, it may seem impossible to become aware of your thoughts, but don’t worry, that’s totally normal and it gets easier with practice.
Not only that, but we can never expect to be 100% aware, so celebrate any steps of awareness that you make.
The many exercises and ways to build awareness are a complete topic in themselves, but in brief, we can practice mindfulness and meditation are two great ways to start.
Another exercise for you to do right away and help you to start identifying and transforming thoughts.
- Think of something recent that’s negative in your life. It doesn’t have to be huge, it can be anything from slightly annoying to devastating and everything in between. For example – I don’t have enough money to go on holiday.
- Make a list of why it’s negative. e.g. I can’t join my friends. I want to be in Ibiza. I’m never any good at saving. I’m a failure etc.
- Now challenge your brain to come up with one positive suggestion to counter each negative. Don’t limit your suggestions by telling yourself things aren’t possible. Allow all suggestions that occur to you. e.g. I can’t join my friends – I’ve actually been missing some time alone (if that’s true of course). I want to be in Ibiza – I can go with them next year. ‘I’m never any good at saving’ – I can make a new plan and learn how to save. ‘I’m a failure – ‘Just because I don’t have enough money at this moment, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure. I can get more money.’
Now practise thinking the positive version of the negative thoughts.
The Power Of Intentional Thinking
You may not be able to stop a thought from being produced, but you can learn to replace it with another more empowering thought and when you can do this, you change everything.
Most people believe that a particular experience holds the power to make us feel a certain way.
So you lose your job and because of that, you feel depressed.
Would you agree?
Or for example, somebody speaks badly about you and that makes you feel sad.
And what about in reverse, maybe your partner brings you a surprise gift and that makes you feel loved.
This belief isn’t accurate.
What I’m about to share with you has completely changed the way I look at the world and how I respond to it. It has given me the ability to be aware of what I’m creating and what I have control over in my life.
The actual mechanism is this: the circumstance happens – we have thoughts about it and those thoughts create our feelings.
Think about that for a moment. Whatever the circumstance, if we were unable to think, we wouldn’t be affected. But we can think and normally we think on autopilot, so we think the thoughts we’ve thought a thousand times before because that’s what our brain offers us.
And in response to those thoughts, the body sets up an emotional reaction.
If you doubt the power of your own thoughts, try this exercise: close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Then, visualise something amazing that happened to you. See every little detail, feel the emotions which you felt on that day, hear the words that were spoken. Stay in this state for several minutes and then slowly come back to the room and open your eyes.
How do you feel?
If you managed to visualise the event with clarity, you should feel great, because your emotions have taken the cue from what you were thinking. You can repeat the exercise, only this time, re-live an argument or other negative experience which you’ve recently been through.
This time when you open your eyes you will feel in alignment with the argument – angry, annoyed, irritated etc.
To switch back to feeling good, repeat the first visualisation.
So how do we use this to empower us in life?
Because we can’t just decide to think something different to what we really think, or can we?
An Example of Using Intentional Thinking to Create Better Results
Let’s say Mary worked a regular job as a PA for a large company that produced clothing for example.
She enjoyed her job but also complained that her boss was hard-headed and the company unappreciative, giving minimal holiday time and not supportive of their staff in times of crises.
They would rather let someone go and employ someone new than support their staff to overcome their weaknesses.
Mary’s job allowed her to live a comfortable life and Mary was able to feed her family. She had worked there for almost twenty years.
Then, one day all her complaints came true when she was called into the boss’ office and asked to close the door.
Her boss thanked her for her years of devotion and explained that because of company cutbacks, they would have to let her go.
Mary went home as though in a haze of disbelief.
As she began to analyse her situation she remembered all the times she’d worked overtime without pay, the times she’d gone the extra mile and the times she’d gone to work even when she didn’t feel well.
She slowly sunk into depression as she realised she couldn’t trust anybody. Even her lifelong job had been taken from her, what in the world could she trust in?
Mary’s thoughts spun out of control as everyone around her agreed with her about how disgraceful the company had behaved.
But when she learned about the power of intentional thinking and she began to apply the technique to her own situation, she was able to pull herself around to a different outlook where she could create a new life for herself and her family.
Instead of thinking, ‘They are terrible. How could they do this to me? How am I going to survive? This is the worst thing that could happen to me . . . ‘ she began to ask herself which thoughts could help her to take action.
What would she need to believe in order to take positive action toward finding another job?
The answer, in Mary’s case, was that she would need to believe that she wasn’t too old to find new employment. She would need to believe that she was worthy and that being let go didn’t define her.
And probably most important of all, she would need to believe that this too was meant to be. That this was a gift and a blessing and she would be better off than she had been before.
Because everything can be turned into a gift.
She began to list all her professional skills and she worked on reminding herself that any company would be lucky to have her as an employee, with all her work experience and skills.
She reframed her loss and allowed herself to feel some trust and faith that all would be well.
Finally, she began to believe that she could find a better job, one which would be more in alignment with her personality and abilities.
By focusing on these new perspectives, Mary was able to create a new life for herself and to break free from the victim state of mind, instead embracing her new-found trust in the process of life.
How Our Thoughts Can Affect Our Feelings, Actions, Results, and Ultimately Our Reality
There are so many variations on how we can model our thoughts to create better results.
Here is the order of creating our own reality and how it responds to our thoughts.
The SITUATION – (creates our) THOUGHTS – (which create our) FEELINGS – (which create our) ACTIONS – (that create our) RESULTS – (which create our) EXPERIENCE of REALITY
Intentional Thinking is Empowered Thinking
I want to take a moment to look at intentional thinking and what it is because there is a lot of misconception about it, especially if we refer to it as positive thinking.
When we have something horrible come into our lives, it isn’t of benefit to pretend that it isn’t horrible. So intentional thinking is never about pretending something didn’t happen, or turning a blind eye or calling everything rosy when in fact it’s dire.
The first step in intentional thinking is being super aware of and accepting of our reactions, our thoughts and our emotions. We don’t suppress them, we accept them.
From a place of acceptance, we hear our inner-speak and shine a torchlight on it. We ask ourselves, ‘Is this thought serving me at this moment?
And if it isn’t, then we look for a more positive thought to replace it.
This might sound difficult, but the trick is to practice watching your thoughts and adjusting them on a regular basis.
Empowering thoughts are ones which offer suggestions for resolving your situation, or they offer a positive angle on a negative experience.
In my particular case, I have a recent experience to highlight this.
Negative situation – diagnosis with hypothyroidism.
Initial reaction – OMG how can this be true?
Empowered intentional thought – This information gives me the perfect opportunity to create a health protocol to improve my health and give my body what it needs in order to reverse my hypothyroidism diagnosis.
As soon as I had an action plan I felt fine about being hypothyroid. And the only reason I made an action plan was because I controlled my thoughts enough to choose more intentional thinking patterns.
The Ripple Effect of Results
When you start observing your thoughts around particular situations and choosing to introduce new, more empowered thoughts to replace the negative ones it has a ripple effect on every area of your life and is one way to guarantee a breakthrough in life.
You may find your relationships improving tenfold. Your kids listening to you more or your spouse becoming more caring.
It can even impact your work because once you become aware it’s like you’re taking control of your programming and choosing to run the programs which give you the best results.
Conclusion on Intentional Thinking
In summary, when we have a difficult situation to navigate, our thoughts will create our feelings so be sure to observe your thoughts and replace them with a thought that empowers you to take action.
Ask yourself, ‘What do I need to believe in order to be able to take action?’
Often the answer to this question will surprise you. Maybe you need to believe that you are strong enough to get through this. Or that other opportunities do exist.
Whatever it is, start to tell yourself your new belief by saying it within your inner-speak. So often we may feel like a failure at everything we do when in reality all we need to do is to shift gear and switch out our thought patterns.
This will create more positive feelings and enable you to take action.
Have you used intentional thinking to improve your life? What was the situation and how did you create the result you wanted to see in your life?
You may like to check out the article on mindset coaching and how it can help us to change our thinking patterns.
If you’d like to explore intentional thinking with me, go ahead and request a free Zoom so that we can explore it together.