Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hour 3: Thoughts... Friend or Foe?

So, I'm pretty sure you have heard the concept of Law of Attraction. Believing it or not is fairly irrelevant... I mention it because if you have heard of it and do believe it, this part can be confusing.

(But only if you let it.)

Think simple... Breathe...! (That's for me, not you, although you can play along if you want to...)

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning. A very good friend that I have known for some time.

I guess it was about a year ago that he was going through something and I said, "just because you believe something doesn't make it so." He, immediately and very poignantly, turned the tables, as I needed to hear my own advice. Really, I did.

Just because you believe something doesn't make it so. Ok. Whatever.

Now, incidentally, I was talking to this same friend this morning, and this very same sentence came up. But this time he responded a little differently. Seems as if he's been paying attention to The Secret.

That's cool. I can hang with it.

But now... In hour three of The 24 Hour Turn Around, the authors talk about the power of thought. I agree, it's powerful for a number of reasons. The point that they make, is that as powerful as thoughts might be, they are still just that.


Have you ever had a scary dream so vivid, so real, that your heart pounds and your body shakes and you might even talk, shout or cry out? Then you wake up and it might even take a minute to recover. Your BODY actually had a physical reaction to thoughts you were having. Dreams are not altered states of reality. They are beneficial, they have value and merit and can give insight into what might be going on in your life at the time, but the truth of the matter is...Dreams are thoughts. You can't touch them, they do not have mass. The psycho-killer in your dream does not mean there is an actual, literal psycho-killer in your bedroom. Dreams, and all of the imagery, plot lines, back story... When you experience them in your dream, they are thoughts in your mind. And YET... those thoughts can (actually and literally) alter your physical state to such a level that you could, theoretically, have a heart attack and die.

(I don't mean to scare you... Just being theoretical. Work with me here...!)

But just as thoughts are just thoughts... Just look just how powerful those thoughts can be when use them to our advantage! Thoughts, like dreams, really are nothing to be afraid of.

Thoughts are our friends. (Really.)

It's no secret that being optimistic creates a more positive experience for the person being optimistic, and being pessimistic creates a more uncomfortable one for the person thinking along pessimistic lines. Here's the funny thing... Take, say two radically different people who tend to approach a situation radically different ways. One is Tigger, the other is Eeyore. Put these people in the same set or circumstances and ask them how the feel about the situation. It's not enough to say that they will think differently about a situation... The two people will actually have different emotions. The circumstances didn't change, the way the circumstance is perceived has changed.

I am not a Pollyanna. On a superficial level you might think so, but get to know me and you would know that I see things in my life that I wish were different. I am not suggesting that it's a good idea to ignore issues and problems. Just the opposite. It's better to acknowledge them.

Uh, so how is this being positive?

It's not about being positive. And it's not about being disillusioned about a situation or closing your eyes to that which you do not see. I have a secret of my own.

You ready?

When you empower yourself to acknowledge stressful things in your life, you take away your own sense of helplessness. Only when you can acknowledge that you have things in your life which you wish were different, can you create an environment for yourself, in which you have the control to acknowledge the things which have benefit. When you have empowered yourself to decipher which things are beneficial and which need changing, you are then capable of generalizing that more realistic assessment to a situation. When you can look at a situation and say "this part works, this part doesn't" you are applying logic and reason to what has, in the past, been a primarily emotional experience.

Follow me? Great! Now that you hear me, I'm going to explain why this is the case. I don't know about you, but when I know why, it's easier to digest.

As you probably know, the hemispheres of the brain process data in different ways. When you "touch" a situation, you are bringing that data into your body. Eyes, ears, nose, maybe even mouth. Hands. Your experience of the situation comes into your body through your senses and only then may the information be processed. When the information is processed, that is when triggers are set off, and that is why and how one situation can freak one person out and be completely innocuous to another. Once that data comes into the body, it is up to the brain to decide what to do with it.

OK... going into a little more depth on that...

The brain processes information with a series of impulses transmitted between neurons. These impulses fire between what they call synapses, which look a little like bobby pins, in that there is a little gap and the impulse sort of jumps the gap. (You've probably seen something like this in photos about electricity in science class...) The cool thing about this is that when certain types of thought processed are ''activated" (for lack of a more articulate word) the efficiency of the neurons increases, and additional synapses are built. And/or the synapses become stronger and more efficient in transmitting those impulses. Now...

Consider those left and right hemispheres. Not to mention the lobes and all... Logic and emotion are processed in different places. When you take a look at a situation, one which might normally cause some stress, and re-map the impulses, neurons and synapses that get all cooky...? You strengthen the change on a physiological level. And if what begins as an emotional response is re-framed as a logical response, that helps YOU. It helps you feel better when you are faced with a situation that normally brings on a lot of stress.

Now, I'm not a doctor, so this is simply a layman's description! Don't take this as official medical information! Lol! the purpose here is to explain why and how this particular step works and is important.

Situations are not "bad" or "good"... Bad and good are subjective descriptors. Truth and fact (the situation to which it is being applied) is NOT subjective. No, you can not say you are in a good or a bad situation, but you can look at a situation and analyze it for its truth and fact.

But wait. What the hell does all that crap about the brain, and whether or not a situation can be viewed as objective or subjective, have to do with making a change in your life? Has Lorin lost her marbles?

Um... depends on who you ask. But in truth, no.

Here it is in a nutshell: As capable, thinking human beings, each one of us has the power and control to take charge of our thoughts. Our thoughts powerfully influence the life of each one of us, because it is the frame of reference that we use to make decisions. Our thoughts also influence our emotions, not to mention affect our interpersonal relationships and the way we see ourselves and present ourself to the world. Our thoughts are so very important, and when we actively, purposely think about that which comes into our life, we remove emotion from it, making us free to re-assign healthier, more appropriate responses to our life circumstances and situations.

What does all that mean? It means "Chin up! You are what you think!"

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