People have been talking about the power of thought for ages. But thoughts aren’t just creative—a la the Law of Attraction, they also determine your experiences. Whatever your mind focuses on, you live.
For instance, in the late 1700s or early1800s, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said, “You are wherever your thoughts are. Make sure your thoughts are where you want to be.”
In the 1900s, James Allen, author of As a Man Thinketh, wrote, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts will take you.”
More recently, in 2006, James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophesy, wrote, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” Out of that came a popular phrase, “Where your thoughts go, energy flows.”
Of course, this concept has been discussed by Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein, and many other authors and spiritual teachers.
Even if you understand this concept, it doesn’t mean you know how to mentally flow toward your chosen destination. Nor does it mean that you experience what you desire. In fact, despite this knowledge, many people still find their thoughts focused on where they don’t want to go or what they don’t want to experience.
The reason why is simple: They are unaware of their thoughts.
You Don’t Know What You Think
We think about 70,00 to 80,000 thoughts per day. That’s a whopping average of 3,000 thoughts per hour.
According to cognitive neuroscientists, we are conscious of only about five percent of our thoughts. That means most of our decisions, actions, emotions, and behavior rely on the 95 percent of subconscious cognitive activity about which we have no awareness.
Top that off with the fact that 80 percent of our thoughts are negative, and 95 percent of them are repetitive. That means we repeat the same negative thoughts over and over again—without even realizing it.
Since we don’t know what we think most of the time, it’s no wonder that we find ourselves experiencing things we don’t like. Our emotional and physical state simply flows in the same direction as our mental state.
Unhappy Thought, Unhappy Experience
Sometimes life hands you unwanted or disliked experiences. If you aren’t careful, your thought perpetuates them.
Think about it (excuse the pun)…If you find yourself experiencing something you don’t like—an unhappy marriage, an unfulfilling job, a pandemic—your thoughts typically become focused on the negative aspects of the situation.
For example, if your boss criticized your work, you leave the office and spend the entire night—or possibly even several weeks—thinking about his words over and over and over again. You re-live that event in your mind.
And where your thoughts go…and you go. As you think about that event, your thoughts put you back in that situation feeling the same exact emotions you felt at the time your boss spoke the words. You doubt yourself. You feel angry. You begin to get scared that maybe you will lose your job.
Basically, your thoughts return you to the past, and you re-live that experience. Where your thoughts go, you go.
Then, you start worrying about the future. You begin to experience events that haven’t even happened yet because you go where your thoughts go.
Choose Your Thoughts Intentionally
There’s a second part to Redfield’s quote above: “Where intention goes, energy flows.” That means that, if you can intentionally direct your thoughts, your emotional and physical energy will follow the energetic flow of the conscious thoughts you choose.
As a Certified High Performance Coach, I raise my clients’ awareness about how they make specific thoughts more important than others. Those thoughts then dictate their experience.
Intentionally or unintentionally, you identify some thoughts as more important and, as a result, focus more time on them. The more time you spend thinking a thought, the more “real” it becomes in your mind. As a result, the more your subconscious mind repeats it.
But you can learn to take control of this process and choose to give specific thoughts that create a desired experience or reality more importance and contemplate them for more extended periods. As you do so, you intentionally create the emotional and physical experience you desire.
Your energy flows toward the thoughts you choose. And you intentionally create a corresponding experience.
Thoughts Lead to Emotional and Physical Responses
Typically, when you think about something, you respond with emotion. The thought coupled with the emotion allow you to have an experience.
If you’re thinking about something you don’t like, you will experience the negative emotions that go with that thought. If you’re angry at your boss, every time you think about your boss or what he said to you, you’ll feel angry. Your body might even respond; for instance, you might find yourself breathing more heavily.
The same thing happens if you think about something you like. You will experience positive emotions and corresponding physical sensations. If you think about someone you care about deeply, you’ll feel happy and loving. Your cheeks might flush or you might feel as if your stomach is filled with butterflies.
The more consistently you think about a past event, the more firmly you assign an emotion to that thought. And you then re-experience that emotion over and over again each time the thought enters your mind.
Your body also responds to thought and emotion. If you feel hurt because of something your significant other did or said, for instance, every time you think about that event, you again experience the hurt. As a result, you may feel lethargic or tired as your body responds to the thoughts and emotions.
Occasionally, an event will trigger the memory of a past experience. Memories are thoughts, usually ones with strong emotions tied to them. Your thoughts then return to that past event, and you re-live the experience mentally and emotionally. You feel the corresponding emotions once again—sometimes so quickly that thought doesn’t seem present at all. Your body will respond in kind as well, possibly with a rise in temperature or faster heartbeat.
Intentionally Choose Your Thoughts
If you want your life to flow in a specific direction and to have specific types of experiences, you have to learn to intentionally and consciously focus your thoughts.
You change your life and life experiences when you choose your thoughts intentionally. And as you direct your mental energy, you direct the flow emotional and physical, too.
Given that so much of what goes on in your mind happens subconsciously, how do you choose your thoughts? How do you direct the flow of your energy and experience? Here are a few steps you can take to help you raise your level of awareness so you can choose your thoughts intentionally.
1. Become aware of your thoughts.
This will take some work since you aren’t typically aware of what you think. Meditation can help. As you sit quietly, notice what thoughts reoccur.
Also, pay attention to how you feel. When you feel angry, for instance, notice what you are thinking.
Additionally, take a break every few hours for a mental check-in. At that moment, become aware of what you are thinking and feeling.
2. Keep track of your thoughts.
Get a journal or notebook, and write your thoughts down. You can do this as part of the first tip above or at any time of the day when you start feeling negative emotions or mentally unfocused.
Pay particular attention to thought you’ve written down previously. Keep track of how often you think that thought.
3. Note the emotion associated with the thought.
Also, make a note of how specific thoughts make you feel. If you are feeling sad, check-in mentally to determine where your mind is focused. What are you thinking?
Then, write the thought in your journal and note the corresponding emotion. (You can also track physical experiences that correspond with thoughts.)
Direct Your Thoughts and Experiences
With this information, you can begin to direct your thoughts. When you feel sad, for example, intentionally choose a thought you know makes you happy.
As you increase your awareness of your thought process, you can intentionally and consciously choose your thoughts. As a result, you also will dictate your emotional (and physical) experiences. In this way, you train your mind on the experiences you want.
Remember, you go where your thoughts go. Be sure your thoughts move you to where you want to be. Ensure they generate the experiences you desire. Choose thoughts that make you, for instance, happy, fulfilled, excited, passionate, loving, awestruck, grateful, or prosperous.
Choose what you want to think about and spend more time thinking that thought. Put energy into it. Give it importance. Make it real. That’s how you create the experience you want at this moment as well as in the future.
How do you become more conscious of your thoughts and intentionally create your experiences? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with anyone you think would benefit from reading it.
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Do your thoughts regularly take you to places you want…or don’t…want to go? Give me an hour of your time, and I’ll help you begin mastering your thoughts so you can consciously and intentionally create your experience. In the process, you’ll take huge strides toward fulfilling your potential and purpose, realizing your dreams, and becoming the best version of yourself. Apply for a FREE Coaching session. Fill out this application.
Or register for my Certified High Performance Group Coaching program here. This is a great option if you don’t feel ready for one-on-one coaching and want to enjoy the power of group learning. This program features the connection provided by community and requires a lower investment than one-on-one coaching.
Photo courtesy of Marina Strizhak