I read an interesting discovery put forth by international speaker and award-winning author Jennifer Read Hawthorn. She says, "We humans, it seems, have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. But according to some research, as many as 98% of them are exactly the same as we had the day before. Talk about creatures of habit! Even more significant, 80% of our thoughts are negative!"
Wow! I can't even begin to explain all the avenues we may go down with that...the impact this has on the outcome of our lives, our emotions and emotional outlook, our relationships with other people, what we're capable of creating in our worlds. It seems so incredible and makes me wonder what the power of our minds could co-create if we were in a habit of accepting our thoughts and moving on from them. But first, we need to heal the thoughts and the reasons we keep thinking them.
Why does this pattern of thinking happen in the first place? We have an innate and natural survival mechanism that is in place to help us evolve by preventing us from making the same mistakes that caused us harm. These new neurons will help us remember this situation, increasing the likelihood that we will make different decisions, improving our chances of survival next time. The problems arise when we ruminate on a situation, allowing our thoughts to pick it apart from every angle. Unfortunately this comes across as blaming instead of learning and acceptance. You see, the mind will analyze a situation again and again so that it can pick it apart, finding out where you went wrong and what you can do differently next time. Taken as survival learning this is very helpful. But continuing to rethink creates anxiety and fear that a similar situation will happen again. We also can't help the feelings of guilt, shame, and disgust at ourselves as we judge how we acted in the circumstance.
It would seem that there are two things that would make sense:
1. That we would understand that this is an innate survival mechanism useful for evolution and increasing our chances for survival in future situations. This means learn and let go.
2. That we would want to have new thoughts. It would seem to make sense that we would not want to continue the same old creature of habit thinking that has us thinking the same, even negative, thoughts every day all day. It would be great if we had a list of new thoughts that we could ruminate on just to grow our minds and pick from each day....
Interestingly, we have an innate mechanism that allows common sense #2 to happen, regularly throughout each and every day: relationships with other humans. See, interacting with humans gives us opportunity moment after moment to exchange and be introduced to new thoughts. In having conversations with other people, in watching what other people are doing, we are having the opportunity to think new thoughts all the time. We don't need to agree with them, just pondering them creates neural growth. It is good for us to think different thoughts. It allows more expansion of neural connections which grows our brain's capacity. Thinking new thoughts allows us to expand our minds and provides possibility for new creations, which would include changes to our lives, our communities, our world. It would include new inventions, designs for healing, greater economic growth and ideas to heal where there's need.
So why aren't we doing this? Why don't we understand this?
Here's what happens when we hear other peoples' thoughts/perspectives. Instead of being grateful and excited about the opportunity to get off our hamster-wheel-rut of thinking, we see the difference in perspective as a challenge to the safety and security our "normal" thinking gives us. We feel out of our comfort zones and as another survival mechanism kicks in and in order to keep us feeling safe, we compare it to our comfortable thoughts and quickly reject anything that doesn't look similar. This judgement separates "us" from "them", and keeps us feeling safe. Especially when we get other people to agree with us, we feel validated. Comfort and securtiy is once again restored.
But mental growth has not happened. We have not grown as humans, insisting on sticking to what we KNOW (what new creation/invention/idea has ever been created with that kind of mentality?) Not only that, but we have alienated ourselves from the thinker that brought the challenging new thought, making them feel judged and unaccepted and us feeling righteous.
Growing your mind and stimulating greater mental capacity and evolution in our world can come from a simple practice you can train yourself for. All you have to do is listen. Be brave enough to not need to reject a thought the moment it's presented and simply consider it. Allow it to challenge your current constructs. Say, "thank you for preventing your thought. I've never seen it that way before." Even if you don't decide you want to agree or follow that thought, you've opened up the channels of acceptance and co-creation. Who knows what ideas can come from THIS type of interaction and relationship. Side benefit, it increases compassion for the world and each person in it.
Of COURSE I want to hear your thoughts. Comment below, or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for the opportunity to grow!
Amanda Plevell, PhD, CNHP is a Natural Medicine Practitioner, researching Cellular Biochemistry, and the effects that food, disease, experiences, emotions, and beliefs play into the programming of the cells, along with the resulting health expression. She believes we have two major tools in our toolbox: our concepts and our food. We are in charge of what we think and what we eat. This has the power to create a new physical being as well as a new compassionate presence in the world. She is the founder of the Natural Source Companies including community WellClinics, and the Institute for Functional Digestive Health. Author of over 28 natural health and self development books, her bestselling books include such titles as "The Genesis Code", "UnBound: Kicking Anxiety From Your Bucket List", "The Energy of Divorce", "The Real Heal", "Clean Your Plate", and "Beyond the Plate". When she's not serving at her Minnesota-based practice, she spends her time homeschooling her children along with her husband, growing her food forest.