What influences your thoughts?

What influences your thoughts? Maybe it is something you like, something a person says or is it a thing or an animal that triggers your attention? These are all external aspects, but what about your internal aspects? Are you aware of how you influence your own thoughts? Are you aware of what influences your positive or negative thoughts? And can you consciously bring this type of thinking up or is it something that just happens?

I started to give this some thought (nice wordplay). I, like many others, love to dwell in thoughts about life and the world and all. Now imagine liking to float around in your thoughts and all of a sudden think of something you dislike about the world and then another thought pops up and you think of something negative about a friend or relative. You start to think where these thoughts come from, but your mind does not stop there. It keeps having these accumulating negative thoughts about others, the world, and about you.

You start thinking about what others might think of you or why you acted a certain way or if you are on the right track with life. You start to blame yourself for the bad things that happened or might happen to you or others. All of a sudden you are in this negative emotional state. You feel sad and start to have a dislike for things and maybe even feel insecure. However, instead of stopping yourself, you get stuck in this negative spiral that keeps pulling you further down.

Sounds familiar? Maybe it does not and you are one lucky fellow (or girl). However, most of us humans experience this once in a while and some less fortunate ones experience it more often. But what is it that got you here in the first place? Was it an external trigger? Was it something someone said? Or was it an internal process, maybe you are too harsh on yourself?

I have caught myself ruminating in the past and I have done so in many occasions. Thankfully I did an exercise to track a ‘bad’ trait I wanted to change for myself. I started to keep track when I was ruminating and getting myself into a negative thinking spiral. If I became conscious of the fact that I was thinking negatively, I would write down where I was, what I was doing, how I was feeling before and how I was feeling after. All these things helped me analyse myself and I learned quickly that it had something to do with thinking too much.

I love to think deeply about things, as I mentioned before. I did not want to change this. Luckily I discovered that it was not the thinking alone that got me into a negative emotional state. It was the thinking combined with something else. By keeping track of when I was in a negative state and in a negative thinking spiral, I noticed that my emotional state had a big influence on my thoughts. I became conscious of the fact that whenever I started to have negative thoughts, I would be in a negative emotional state. Let’s say I was angry or sad or had low energy. These negative emotional states would influence my thinking.

When I became conscious of this, I could use it to my advantage. I still catch myself whenever I start to have negative thoughts. However, now I reflect to my emotional state and I can take a step away from my emotions and thoughts. I also thought of what I could do to counteract the negative thinking. Being conscious about it is a huge step, but what to do next? I start to distract myself by working out, doing something with someone I love or doing something else to distract me for a while until I get into a better emotional state.

Although everyone is unique in their own way, I think that it would benefit you to think about what factors influences your thoughts. Becoming conscious of this gives you a sense of clarity and information about how you work. You can get to know yourself a tiny bit better. This is something you can use to your advantage by being more productive, feeling better and knowing when to choose your battles. I recommend creating a way or device or something to keep track of your thoughts. Try to figure out what makes you tick and create clarity for yourself. Think about something you can do to distract yourself. Things that make you feel better, like going for a walk or screaming into a pillow. Get to know yourself during this process and become conscious of yourself.

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