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Promoting positive emotions. Are you a thought-aholic?

Either you run the day, or the day runs you--Jim Rohn

Do you often feel nervous and wonder why? Or feel you lack the self confidence others seem to have in bucket loads?
When you enter a room at a party, do you go in expecting to have a good time and meet new and interesting people?
Or do you feel a bit self conscious, a bit edgy? Do you wonder if anyone will talk to you or find what you have to say interesting?
Do you jump at the chance of speaking up at meetings or volunteer to give talks and presentations at work?
Or do you sit at the back of the room and hope no one notices you or asks for your opinion?
If you’re not stepping forward into the spotlight, you might wonder just why that is?

My name is ………. and I’m a thought aholic!

In the process of dodging the rain at an open air market recently, I found myself sheltering at a little stall with motivational sayings printed onto distressed tin.
One caught my eye, and I made a purchase. It read:

‘Your mind is a garden.
Your thoughts are the seeds.
You can grow flowers
or you can grow weeds.’

Some might think such positive emotions a little trite, but in the developing worlds of neuroscience and epigenetics, they sum up, in a nutshell, the essence of an important emerging message.
Sebastian Seung’s work on mapping the human connectome (the brain’s shifting neural pathways) has noted the mind is like a river.
It influences the direction of our thoughts just as a river bed influences the flow of the river. But our thoughts, paradoxically also shape our mind, just as the river bed shifts over time according to the flow of the water.
Thought-aholics, somewhat like alcoholics, have lost control.
They have become victims of their habitual thinking style and don’t seem to realise that their thoughts are products of their brain.
If your brain were a car, you might ask yourself ‘who is in the driving seat? Who is steering this thing?’
If your brain were a commercial company with a team of workers and employees, you might ask, ‘who’s the leader. Who has executive control here?
If your brain was a top performing football team, you might expect a well focused manager or coach to head up the strategy for each game, give direction and take the lead.
Get it?
‘Executive control’ in your brain is located in the pre frontal cortex which is at the front of the brain, just behind the forehead.
It controls abstract thinking and thought analysis and is also responsible for regulating behaviour. This includes resolution of conflicting thoughts and making choices.

Have you got repetitive brain injury?

I’ve recently developed a little bump on the index finger of my right hand. It doesn’t bother me but looks a bit odd. I wondered why it had turned up. The clue came as I sat taking notes whilst with a client and noticed my finger had adopted exactly the right shape and angle to grip the pen securely.
I’ve sat for more than 30,000 hours in exactly that position over many years, making notes in just that way. My hand has been influenced by those repetitive movements.
Our repeated actions shape our bodies and our repeated thoughts shape our minds.
Once you realise this, you have a choice.

Don’t keep beating yourself up

How many of us have negative self talk and unhelpful belief systems we picked up along the way?
We need to challenge every negative statement. Challenge every unhelpful or self limiting belief and replace them with the kind of positive statements that generate positive emotions.
Many people have difficulty with what they regard as self promotion, grandiosity or ambition. But when you reframe that notion and consider it is your absolute duty to share your unique gifts with the world, suddenly there is no reason to be content to stay in the shadows any longer.
Take control of your thoughts.
Take control of your life!

‘Take every thought captive’
2 Corinthians 10.5

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.