how to control your thoughts

How to control your thoughts and be the master of your mind

When we actively try to take control of our thoughts, we can try to be the master of our minds and not the other way around.
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“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” – James Allen

These words by the British philosophical writer offer an insight into how our thoughts determine the course of our lives. Our thoughts have shaped us into who we are today and they will dictate who we will be in the future. According to a study published in the journal Nature Communications, the average adult has over 6,000 thoughts daily. Now, that’s a staggering number, which demonstrates how important it is to master our mind and eliminate negative thoughts that cause distractions, stress and plant the seeds of doubt.

When we let our thoughts go haywire, we risk losing control over our lives. We are far less composed, which affects our decision-making abilities. However, when we actively try to take control of our thoughts, we try to be the master of our minds and not the other way around. The less perturbed we feel due to destructive thoughts, the more our chances of finding happiness and leading content lives. Follow these steps to control your thoughts and master your mind.

Recognise disturbing thoughts

Take a moment to pause and reflect upon the specific thoughts that cause distress and hamper your self-belief. Oftentimes, we are confronted with negative thoughts that make us feel worthless. If negative thoughts like “I am not good enough” or “I can’t accomplish anything in life” take over your mind regularly, recognise them and eliminate them before they threaten your peace of mind. By paying attention to the thoughts objectively, no matter how discomforting, you will have an effective way of separating positive thoughts from negative ones.

Silence the inner critic

Once you have identified the negative thoughts that limit your self-belief, it is time to learn how to silence your inner critic. It is that negative voice that critiques your every move and makes you feel insignificant. Writing for Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone elucidates upon the inner critical voice and says that it is “formed from painful early life experiences in which we witnessed or experienced hurtful attitudes toward us or those close to us. As we grow up, we unconsciously adopt and integrate this pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others.”

When you are confronted with negative self-talk that sows the seeds of doubt in your mind, counter them by switching on the button for positive thoughts. How do you do that? For example, if your inner critic chides you for not doing good at a recent work assignment, remind yourself of all the hard work you put into accomplishing it. Think about all the hours you spent while trying to give your best shot. This is an effective counter against negative self-talk, which gets better with practice.

Find inner peace through meditation

Meditation is one of the most effective methods to calm down turbulent thoughts and master your mind. Maintaining a daily meditation schedule helps you acknowledge and comprehend your thoughts and emotions better. You can incorporate mindfulness meditation into your daily routine to calm your troubling thoughts and gain mastery over your mind. Practicing mindfulness meditation can help filter out the disturbing thoughts and worries that cause you stress. The benefits of mindfulness are endless as research has shown that it can reduce stress, anxiety and other mental health woes.

Maintain a journal

Maintaining a journal is another effective technique for controlling your thoughts. You can write down your thoughts and read aloud what you have written. This will equip you with a better understanding of your negative thoughts. It’s a record of your thoughts and feelings, which can help you deal with them. Therapist Amanda tells Healthline, “If you can record how you are feeling and what you are thinking, you are better able to track your emotions, notice people or places that are triggers, and recognize warning signs of your strong emotions.”

Surround yourself with supportive people

The people you choose to surround yourself with play a crucial role in shaping up your perspective of life. If you are surrounded by positive people, you will also have a positive outlook towards life and vice versa. You may ask how. Unlike toxic people, who try to pull you down and hamper your self-confidence, positive people will motivate you to be the best version of yourself. So, start by assessing your circle of friends and observe what attitude they foster towards life. If your peers are supportive and positive individuals, then they will have a positive impact on your thought process too. Such people will only motivate you to steer ahead in life, and thus help foster positive thoughts in your mind.

Practice self-compassion

Self-compassion is about being kind towards yourself in difficult situations. When you feel bogged down due to a torrent of tumultuous, intrusive thoughts, be more compassionate towards yourself. Psychologist Catherine Moore writes in Positive Psychology, “When we have self-compassion, we are aware of our own hurtful thoughts and emotions without blowing up their significance through rumination.” This method helps in developing acceptance of who we are despite our perceived limitations and expectations. Thus, self-compassion can help create a more positive outlook towards our situation, no matter what shortcomings we believe to have. This, in turn, helps in controlling our negative thoughts and gaining control over our minds.

Speak to a therapist

If the aforementioned tips aren’t able to help you deal with your thoughts, then you can consider seeking professional support from a therapist. Healthline recommends seeking therapists who offer cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. These therapies can help you reframe your mindset and gain better control over your thoughts.

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