‘You Are Not Your Thoughts’ What This Means & Why It’s Important
We’ve been hearing this a lot, “You are what you think”, haven’t we? I sure have! There have been many instances where I’ve been told to mind my thinking because thoughts can be my actions, but I’m skeptical… Wait, listen to my reasons first!
This saying, “you are your thoughts” is something that has taken root in our minds over the years, and it has, inadvertently, affected our mental health – whether you believe it or not. Psychologists and experts might insist that “you are your thoughts” is the right way to go, but that might not be the truth. At least not anymore.
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Below, let’s explore the origins of “you are your thoughts” and why the saying, “You are not your thoughts” should be implemented in your life! Because, the truth is you are not your thoughts, no matter what others might say.
The Origins Of “You Are Your Thoughts”
Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud introduced the idea that our actions and behaviors are related to our unconscious mind. The theory behind this was deeper than you might think though. Freud believed that being conscious is being aware of your surroundings and your inner self.
It meant that you were aware of your inner process. The subconscious mind, however, is the process that you’re not simply aware of.
Freud suggested that to avoid dealing with painful memories, all we need to do is push those memories back into our subconscious mind. Following this, he concluded that our thoughts that we repress and push back eventually find a way through our actions, thus “you are your thoughts”.
Many cognitive psychologists side with this as well. They imply that our physical actions are a representation of our subconscious mind. When you think about something or when a thought crosses your mind, they predict an action and create a picture of your true self – that’s what this theory states.
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It also means that the thoughts you’ve put out in the Universe attract the same energy. Means, you’re a wide lighthouse with a bright beacon that attracts what it thinks.
Well, it did to me too. Because the theory is backed with sound reasons, there’s no reason to not believe it, right? However, many experts and psychologists think otherwise.
They believe that you are not your thoughts and that thought is a different entity from your physical body. Just like feelings, ideas, and views. According to many, thoughts are nothing but clouds that pass through your sky and shouldn’t be taken too personally. Acknowledge them but let them pass.
You Are Not Your Thoughts – What Does It Mean?
Now listen! I agree with this statement. You are not your thoughts might not be a scientific claim, but it is a perspective that many would agree with. Look at your thoughts as you would notice something in a room you just entered. Just like you and the object in the room are two different entities, your thoughts, and you are different too.
Thoughts are mere experiences that are a part of you but are not YOU! Now, let’s take an example;
We all experience intrusive thoughts, don’t we? These thoughts can range from mild to disturbing. I mean, I usually get a thought that I should poke my sister until she snaps, but I don’t usually act on my thought. (well, not always).
Thoughts are powerful, but they can’t be that powerful that they define our actions, or better yet, who we are.
As beings who experience thousands of thoughts in a day, tell me; do we act on them always? No! Think about it. You’re on a lunch date with your friend, and you see a mouth-watering dish on the next table. Tempting while waiting for your food, do you let your thoughts define your action and eat that food? No.
Strange and intrusive thoughts are common, even if you’re not struggling with OCD or any related condition. We, as humans, tend to overthink, but it’s not always we let our thoughts take over.
Another example; as a 6-year-old, you might think about wanting to live in a tree house forever, but as a 30-something you would not have the same thought, right? Thoughts tend to change, just like opinions, feelings, and ideas. This change can depend on your environment – physical and emotional.
Your thoughts might change but your subconscious might remain the same. Your repressed and pushed-back thoughts will be there, and yet, you don’t act on them.
It’s Important To Accept The Truth
Thoughts are an idea your mind creates, and they can be sudden. Thoughts are just stories and scenarios your mind creates, and these thoughts might be as random as anything. Thoughts can be powerful but they are not real. They are merely something your mind provides when faced with an external stimulus.
Your thoughts can be real when you make them real. The more attention you give a thought, the more real it will become. The bigger you make the thought, the more it will affect your mind.
Wanting to have a tub of ice cream in the middle of an important meeting is a random thought that is meant to last for a second, but when you hold on to that thought, the more you think about it, the craving will become. Get my point?
When you understand that thoughts are not your actions and vice versa or when you are not your thoughts, you’ll subject yourself to a stress-free life! You’ll know that overthinking random thoughts will not solve anything and can only worsen your worry. The earlier you understand that your thoughts are mere figments your mind creates, the stronger and happier you will be.
Moreover! When you accept that you are not your thoughts, you reduce the external stimuli and know how to manage your negative thoughts better.
Thoughts can be controlled when you’re the one thinking. You’re in charge of your own mind after all. The best way to control your thoughts is to understand where they come from. Try some self-reflection activities to learn where your thoughts are coming from and how to control the stimuli.
Did you fight with your loved one? Or have you moved to a new place that’s influencing your thought process?
If you have a condition that might be causing your thoughts to spiral out of control, then you can reach out to a counselor or therapist for a consultation.
If you think that your mind is signaling you about something, then use your conscious part of the brain and identify them. Accept your thoughts but don’t believe in them until you’re sure about them. Here, your conscious brain comes to work. Acknowledge your thoughts, and accept them, but don’t let them influence your actions.
You can try this quick exercise to reduce negative thoughts, or you can try some other simple exercises such as journaling and visualization to control your thoughts. If you’re a meditation enthusiast, then try mindfulness meditation to stay in the moment and not in your head.
Even though we have Sigmund Freud saying, “You are your thoughts” with sound logic doesn’t mean we need to keep following it years later. Things change as they are bound to and so are opinions.
If you’ve been holding on to this misconception, it’s time to adjust your stance and start believing that “you are not your thoughts”.
I hope that this blog helps! For more, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media. You can also comment in the section below with your thoughts and opinions.
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