I’m not sure how scientists determine how many thoughts we have per day – some estimate 12,000-60,000, others 50,000-70,000. They all seem to agree however that around 95% of those thoughts are repetitive – we think the same thing day after day and 80% of our thoughts are negative!
So basically, the average person spends their day thinking lousy thoughts about themselves and their lives: “I’m too lazy”, “the kids are so difficult”, “I’ll never be able to get a decent job”, “if only… “ and so on.
We all know people that maintain beliefs that simply aren’t true – the SkinnyMinnie who constantly complains about being overweight, the mum who moans about the cost of everything even though she drives a top of the range Merc and has earrings with diamonds so large they could feed a small family for a year. Similarly, if we examine our thoughts closely – we can see that a lot of them aren’t really true – or certainly not as absolute as we think. Maybe we’re not lazy, but exhausted, perhaps the kids are having a bad day or simply saying no to an unreasonable request, perhaps that job is only a stepping stone away.
Have you ever caught yourself in the middle of a stream of thoughts and noticed how strange or bizarre they are? Perhaps you’ve managed to catch yourself before going down a rabbit hole of paranoia when you can’t get through to a loved one or in the midst of a mind-induced crisis. Stopping and noticing that a thought is running through your brain is very powerful – because it gives you the opportunity to notice that you are not your thoughts.
Let me say that again – you are not your thoughts. There is a part of you observing that thought. So you are not your thoughts.
Similarly, just because a thought is running through your mind – doesn’t mean it’s true. The other day, I asked my husband to listen out for a delivery while I was out. The delivery-man rang me when he was on his way, and I rang Chris to let him know he was coming. I must have rung 10 times and couldn’t get through. Sitting in gridlocked traffic, seething, I thought “I bet he’s left his phone downstairs – what’s the point in me asking him to listen out if he can’t be bothered to keep his phone on him?” (sorry Chris – in my defence, the traffic was very bad and I was getting very stressed). He finally rang back worried about all the missed calls. He’d been on an important business call and wasn’t able to answer the phone. So all my lousy ungrateful thoughts about my long-suffering husband that I was convinced were right at the time? Completely untrue.
And so it is with our thoughts about ourselves and the world around us. The eminent scientist and leader in the field of epigenetics, Dr Bruce Lipton, points out that from age 2 to 7, a child spends the majority of his/her time in the theta brainwave state – the state of imagination and hypnosis. In other words, between 2 and 7 we are constantly soaking up information from those around us and it is going straight into our subconscious minds. We are being programmed – by our parents, our siblings, our teachers and friends, the tv and the entire world we live in – soaking up their beliefs about how to be a good boy or girl, how to fit in and be accepted – in effect, being programmed (verbally and through others’ behaviour towards us) to be able to live within our culture.
The upshot of this? Those negative thoughts cycling through your mind every day? Not only are they not true – but they were never even yours to begin with.