7 ways to control your thoughts
Are you happy? The question itself is loaded with meaning, and most of us would give mixed answers if we were honest. Much of life is comprised of mixed-bag scenarios – we are content with some parts and dissatisfied with others. As tempting as it is to rely on a change in circumstance to find fulfillment in life, the truth is that your outlook determines your happiness, not your circumstances.
Learning how to control your mind is crucial for building a sense of serenity with yourself and your life, whatever your circumstances. Control your thoughts, and you’ll find the path to lasting, unshakeable contentment.
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How to control your mind
1. Understand the mind-body connection
Understanding how to control your mind begins with realizing that you are in full control of your state. Since your mind, body and emotions are interconnected, you can use mind-body techniques to bring greater cognizance to your thinking, which in turn influences your feelings.
As Tony Robbins says, it is this practice of embracing self-awareness in the current moment that ultimately drives lasting happiness. In fact, research on self-determination theory demonstrates that the more you feel you’re in control of your circumstances (by staying grounded in the moment), the more productive and fulfilled you’re likely to feel.
2. Embrace the moment
As you become more adept at maintaining self-awareness in any circumstance, you’ll begin to notice your thoughts and emotions – and how they connect to your actions. It can be tempting to ignore or repress negative emotions in an attempt to control your thoughts, but this strategy will backfire. You must embrace what you’re feeling and ask yourself: What is this emotion telling me? Allow yourself to feel it and learn from it.
Along these lines, resist the urge to take a “TGIF” approach to life, living for the weekend (or whatever high points you tend to prioritize over the duller, more mundane points in your life). Instead of wishing you were somewhere else, embrace your existence in the present and you’ll be well on your way to learning how to control your mind.
3. Shift your focus
Our thoughts and emotions aren’t always positive. That’s a fact of life. But once you’re able to recognize and embrace them anyway, you’ll be able to shift your focus away from the negativity. Positive thinking can reduce stress and depression and make you feel more fulfilled – two common goals if you’re wondering how to take control of your mind.
Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean ignoring your problems or pretending that your life is perfect. It means recognizing that life is happening for you, not to you. It means choosing to see the good over the bad and practicing gratitude every day. When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears. When you live in a state of abundance, there is no room for negative thoughts.
4. Practice meditation
Have you ever felt that your mind is out of control, beset by anxiety as your thoughts barrel along aimlessly at a million miles a minute? When your thoughts are on auto-pilot, the prospect of learning how to control your mind might seem impossible. However, meditation is one of the most natural ways to calm and center your mind.
The philosophy of meditation centers on the fact that the mind can only focus on one thought at a time. When you meditate, you draw your focus to something calming like your breath or a mantra such as “I am calm and relaxed.” If you get distracted while practicing meditation, begin again without beating yourself up. Meditation requires repetition to master and as you build it into your day-to-day routine, you’ll find that the ability to control your thoughts becomes more natural.
5. Use priming
Like most of us, you’ve probably had the experience of waking up in a bad mood you can’t seem to shake. When this happens, you likely wonder how to control your mind when you don’t feel up to it. This is where the power of priming comes into play. Priming engages the mind by first engaging the body by taking several deep, cleansing breaths to cultivate a positive physical state.
As you focus on your physical state, you’re then able to clear your mind and focus your thoughts on the present moment. As you practice priming consistently, you’ll find that it becomes intuitive. By building intention into your thought processes, you more fully understand how to take control of your mind.
The mind is more powerful than most of us realize. When you control your thoughts, you control your destiny. Visualization taps into that amazing power by giving us the one thing we truly need to succeed: a deep belief in ourselves. It’s used by star athletes, actors and businesspeople alike because it works.
Tony tells the story of a basketball team that was practicing free throws. One group practiced only by physically shooting free throws. Another group didn’t practice at all. A third group practiced using only goal visualization – and they were the most successful. When you visualize yourself reaching a specific goal over and over, you can actually “trick” your brain into feeling completely certain about that outcome. When it’s time to take action, your brain is ready.
7. Recognize your limiting beliefs
As you build mindfulness practices like meditation and priming into your day-to-day life, you’ll begin to discover more and more about the beliefs that shape your outlook on life. Beliefs are multifaceted, stemming from mental, emotional, spiritual, cultural and physical influences. Beliefs are therefore very powerful in shaping how we view ourselves and the world, informing what we believe we can and can’t accomplish in life. It is part of human nature to accept our beliefs without questioning them.
Mindfulness practices seek to address this tendency to turn a blind eye. Instead of accepting all our beliefs, we must commit to investigating whether our beliefs are certifiably true, or whether they are the product of circumstances and experiences that do not accurately reflect who we really are.
The good news is that while you cannot change events or experiences in your past, you can change how you perceive those events. You can learn how to control your mind by reframing your beliefs in light of your highest self worth. Commit to being honest with yourself, and you’ll become able to uncover limiting beliefs that may seem functional but actually keep you from reaching your full potential.
Ready to take control of your mind?
Learn how to control your thoughts and focus on your business goals by practicing Tony Robbins’ priming method.