May 12, 2016
Unusual as it may sound, change in the outerworld begins in the innerworld. That is, what we think about, we create.
Specifically, what we think about most, we find the most of in our lives. For example, if we begin constantly thinking about a certain type of car that we want, we suddenly see it on every street. Parents-to-be report seeing pregnant women “everywhere,” when before it was only every once in a while. Or, if we think someone is irritated with us, we will find evidence of it in how they interact with us—even if they are not miffed in the slightest, we will still “find” it.
Where we focus our mental energy matters because our dominant focus tells our mind what to look for. In brief, what we focus on expands.
The thoughts that we think repeatedly condition us to expect, anticipate, and await certain events, scenarios, and exchanges. When we think a thought enough times, we naturally (and unconsciously) begin to look for it. After all, wouldn’t it be odd if we heard the same message over and over and over again and remained totally uninfluenced by it? In this way, change occurs through repetition and our mind adjusts incrementally to accept certain things over time as normal and/or true. Think about fashion trends. At first, certain styles can seem absurd, but after months of seeing them everyday, they are just ordinary. We get used to things. We accept them. We stop paying attention. Our thoughts are like this.
So, how does this all relate to creating change? There is that saying, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” So, if our innerworld sculpts our outerworld by telling us what to look for; and, if our perceptions are crafted over time though repetition; if we want to change our lives, doesn’t it make sense that we must first change what thoughts we repeatedly think?
Okay, sounds great. But, how do we do that? We do that in two ways. The first is by limiting what we actively and passively expose our minds to—garbage in garbage out…right? This includes other people, the news, social media, and entertainment. If it does not support the mindset that we are trying to cultivate, we must weed it out. (If it cannot be eliminated, we are wise to do what we can to at least be aware of it and limit our exposure to it.) The second way is to begin planting seeds-of-thought that we desire to be realities in our lives. These are affirmations. We can say, “I love feeling happy” and “I am grateful for all the joy in my life” even if we don’t necessarily feel that way in the moment. And, through force of repetition, our mind will begin updating its “files” to notice more and more evidence that these ideas are true and all around us. Our positive attitude will begin attracting more positive people and experiences into our lives because we are training our mind to notice them.
If this is uncomfortable, start with something concrete. Try telling yourself, “There are tons of people with blonde hair in this town” and repeat it to yourself often. Inevitably, your attention will be drawn to each and every blonde person who passes by. In this case, your mind is not “creating” blonde-haired people, instead it is merely noticing what is always there. You can do this with anything.
Change can occur when we tell ourselves specifically what we want to change and then begin the process of cultivating our thoughts to create an awareness of its presence.
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.
Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com
His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world. He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Transformation Coach.
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