It seems that the message “what you think about is what you create” is everywhere these days. It sounds great in theory, but for a lot of people it is difficult to translate or put into action. For some it just becomes a harsh reminder of what they are not creating in their lives. When a persons focus is on survival or getting through one drama after another, this message just doesn’t make sense, and if anything, creates a burden of guilt for not creating a positive life.

Yet what we think about and how we feel does impact our choices and heavily influences our experience of life whether we are aware of it or not. Everyone has a wide variety of challenges and events that create some form of emotional pain. It is how you perceive those events that cause specific emotional reactions to arise from particular incidents.

We cannot control the external variables of our lives, but we can control our internal reactions to those events. If your mind at all argues this point and says that emotions and your reactions are involuntary, then my answer is that you just have not had enough training in choosing your reactions. Yes, all of your emotional reactions are a choice at some level of your subconscious. But wait; if it is in your subconscious, then how can you possibly consciously control your reactions, might be your next argument. My answer to that is that you just have not had enough training in making your subconscious more conscious in your daily life.

You can watch different areas of your subconscious at work with surprising frequency. The automated reactions are the parts of your subconscious that you can learn to watch. The more you watch yourself and pay attention to your patterns of behavior, the more ability you develop in being able to change those automated responses. When you start to change yourself so that you stop habitual behavior, you open up to more spontaneity and creativity. Being in this space instead of a reactive state allows you to make better decisions and see opportunities that you would not have seen while being in reaction.

You thoughts are similar to your emotions. Many thoughts are habitual without realizing that they are habit. Have you ever thought about why you have the same thought process over and over? It is only because it is a habit that you never thought to break. This is especially important when the habit is negative thinking. This type of thinking fuels negative emotional reactions. When I talk about emotional reactions, understand that I am including the thoughts that are related to those reactions.

Changing your automatic reactions is a multi-step process that requires patience. It is a skill that you need to learn and it will evolve with practice. Practicing something means that in the beginning you are not going to be very good at it so rather than try it, not succeed and quit, try it, make some mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and get better at it while you learn and grow.

The first step in changing your emotional reactions is to acknowledge that you have them and to want to change them. Pick something easy to start with, like getting angry at someone while you are driving. Notice how the reaction is automatic; you don’t even think about it, it just happens. But why does it happen?

Step two is to honestly ask yourself ‘why am I getting angry’. Your brain will willingly cooperate and give you all sorts of different justifications for getting angry. Yet getting angry is not a solution as you might think, it is simply a negative emotional reaction. Consider that there might be an alternate way of dealing with the situation that has triggered your anger.

Step three is to redefine what has happened to you. So what if somebody flipped their finger, cut you off in traffic, or did whatever it is that they did that caused you to get angry. You have a choice here. You can look at that other person and choose to see that they have unresolved issues that cause them to act the way they do. Their actions are not personal to you. This is the way they react to things and has nothing to do with you; if it weren’t being done to you it would be to somebody else instead of you.

When you get angry about anything, you can redefine the event so that you do not feel personally attacked, affronted, etc. Whatever the situation is, choose to look at it differently and step back emotionally as soon as you feel that anger rise. What is that emotion? It is probably there only because you feel threatened in some way.

Step four is to create a different reason for the offending persons action other than what your automated reaction wants you to believe. This part can get very interesting because your mind wants to be right about its perception of the experience. You can make up a few different reasons to distract your mind and create the space for the anger to diminish and disappear.

You can be serious or use humor when you create different meanings for events. The only part that matters is that you take away the energy from the anger. So, for example, the most logical thought would be to think: “that person learned their behavior from their parents and is not aware of how their behavior adversely affects others”. Another option is “that person takes out their frustration and anger at the world because that is how they observed their parents reacting to the world”.

In both instances, both explanations show that the person in question has subconscious behaviors that they have not addressed. Of course it would be better if they changed their behavior, but that is outside of your control. The only thing that you need to care about is yourself and your blood pressure. You can’t change them, but understanding why people act the way they do without taking it personally allows you to have a better life experience.

Using humor to defuse your reaction can be a lot of fun. As the person fingers you, you can choose to think “ well, at least they are getting some exercise” or “there they go playing finger puppets again…it’s a miracle they haven’t crashed yet”. Or when a driver cuts you off you can think “you’d think there was someone in the back seat about to give birth the way they are driving” or “that guy has seen one police show too many”. Make up your own version!

It really is important to train yourself to see your fellow human beings in a more realistic fashion. That “jerk” may have just recently received some very upsetting news: a death, divorce, loss of a job, etc. Generally, they are likely reacting in fear to some trigger in their own life. People tend to act aggressively as a form of defense to prevent themselves from getting hurt, whether it is real or perceived. Choose to stop the cycle of reaction that continues from one person to another.

You will find that your anger will very quickly dissipate when you train your mind to choose a different reaction. Will you never feel angry again in a similar situation? Of course not. Your conditioned reactions have been with you for as long as you have been alive. Changing yourself takes time, practice, and persistence.

If you keep trying to change your emotional reactions what will likely happen is that with practice you will get better at it, especially when your spontaneity and creativity kick in more frequently. You will be able to catch yourself sooner and consciously choose a different response. Over time you will get triggered less and less. There will come instances where you don’t get angry because you shift into logical thought right away. This will happen more and more.

Yet there will be days where you are challenged physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually. On those days you will seem to forget everything you have learned and you will be in a reactive state to many things. On those days, learn to acknowledge that you really are doing the best that you can, given the challenges you currently are dealing with. Many times just getting through the day and having a good nights sleep will help you get into a better frame of mind and back on track the next day.

Feeling bad about yourself for not being able to handle things better is a no-win solution. Do not allow your mind to ever beat yourself up. When you beat yourself up for something, you are not allowing yourself to see what it is that you can learn from a situation. Fight this form of self-abuse using the same tools that you have been given for dealing with anger. You can use these tools to stop any negative thought or emotional reaction.

When you change how you think or how you react and ease your emotional reactions, your life becomes easier. The instant result is more peace of mind and less anxiety and better health. Your awareness of yourself increases as well as the awareness of how other human beings behave. In turn, you start to experience the world differently and instead of constant challenges, life becomes a little easier in small steps.

In the bigger picture, perhaps being more relaxed and happier lands you that job. When you handle a challenge positively and from a solution oriented perspective instead of an emotionally reactive one you get creative in finding ways to get what you want. This is how what you think about turns into what you create. If your thoughts are filled with what is wrong, you have no room left for seeing what can be right and to see what your other possibilities are.

If you think you can’t do it, you won’t do it. You will give up easily and find signs of your failure. If you decide that you want something and stop doubting that it will happen, you can find the strength to get through any challenges or blocks and grow from each experience until you are in a position to get what you want. It is in this growth that you find new opportunities.

New opportunities start to exist for you more and more because you are no longer caught in the blinders of emotional reactions and negative thinking. As soon as you stick you head outside of that dark box or move the blinders just a bit, things become brighter. Instead of doing the same thing over and over, by breaking the cycle of your own habitual responses you start to have new experiences, which become more positive. The biggest reason why they become more positive is because you take things less and less personally. This is where your personal power comes from.

The less you focus on the behavior of others and look to see where you can change yourself, the more in control you become in your life. Your options become clearer and easier to take advantage of. You see choices that you never would have considered before. You take risks that you never thought you could take. Those risks sometimes don’t have the results you expected, but sometimes they come with big rewards.

Yet there really is no such thing as failure. Think about what failure means to you. Then replace it with this sentence: “I have not met my desired or intended objective”. Then look at what you can do differently in the future and choose to learn from the experience.

Now you know how your emotional state translates into what you create. More importantly, you now have some tools that you can use to start to create a different life for yourself. Everything happens in one small step at a time. There is no miracle cure, just the results of your own hard work. Now go practice!

Ewa Schwarz

Latest Online Counseling

Author's Bio: 

Ewa Schwarz, B.A. is the counselor/owner for Latest Online Counseling. She has been a counselor for 12 years. She provides counseling using a range of techniques from her education, training, and experience in Cognitive Therapy, Buddhism, A Course in Miracles, Shamanism, Tantra, Native American Studies, and Taoism.