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July 19, 2022

Controlling Your Thinking

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One of the most human things about us is our ability to think. We can take complex topics and make sense of them, use memory and reasoning to understand the nature of our emotions and past, and create our future because we can use the present to plan and strategize. But have you ever thought about what exactly thinking is?

Ed Mylett has a great theory on this. He says that thinking is the process of asking and answering questions for yourself. While we don’t always recognize it as such, our brain thinks by constantly oscillating between thinking about what it wants to know and figuring it out. 

The same applies for negative thought patterns. Any time you hear that negative voice in your head, it’s simply a negative response to an open loop in your mind. Question: Do I really think I can do this? Answer: No, I’m not good enough. Question: Why are they so successful and I’m not? Answer: I must be falling behind in life.

But within this process there’s an incredible opportunity. We shape our thoughts with the questions we ask ourselves. Therefore, we can control our thinking by changing the questions themselves.

For example, after you do something, instead of asking yourself “How did I do?” you can ask yourself “What about that went really well?” The question requires you to provide a more positive response. Or if you notice something about someone that you’re jealous about, instead of asking “Why is she so much better than me?” (which would cause you to list all the ways why you see yourself as worse than them) you could ask the question “What about this person inspires me?”

To succeed with this process you need two things: Awareness that a question is being asked at all, and a plan for how you want to be thinking so that you can insert the question that provokes it. So let’s create some momentum there right now - What are some of the negative thought patterns you have that you’d like to improve?

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