How-To: Reduce Negative Thoughts Behind the Chair and Beyond

Salon professional Andrew Carruthers shares how to stave off negative thoughts by being more mindful.
Salon professional Andrew Carruthers shares how to stave off negative thoughts by being more mindful.

Each of us has had the experience where a thought passes through our head and we wonder, “How did that get there?” We constantly have stories that run around in our mind that we know are untrue, and again we have no idea why we would tell ourselves those awful things. No, you’re not broken… this is just your subconscious mind doing what it was built to do. The good news is that we have more control over this than we know. If we understand how that part of our mind operates, we can learn to protect it from unwanted influences and come into cooperation with the old monkey mind to improve our inner chatter.

Here is a simple primer on how the subconscious works (especially when we are children). 95 percent of our day comes from the subconscious part of our mind and its primary function is survival. So that it can survive, it is constantly learning from our environment through the senses… touch, smell, vision, smell, taste and the sixth sense of energy. It derives meaning from all of this through our previous experiences and current beliefs. The bad news is that the way it filters what is let in and what is ignored doesn’t always serve us, and we are rarely aware that we are accidentally absorbing something from our environment. Meaning: The subconscious could be learning from any conversation we overhear, any post we see on our social media or even the energy coming at us from others!

Hopefully this is starting to connect the dots on why we have thoughts that feel like they’re not even our own. It’s because many of them are not thoughts we consciously chose! And here is the good news… although we cannot completely control every thought, there is plenty of room to do better.

First, we need to become more aware of what we are accidentally letting in. To do that, take a little time over the next five to seven days and scroll through your favorite social media, news source, etc.… and dive deeper into everything that is passing through your feed. Here are a couple questions to ask with each thing you see:

    • What’s the energy of the post?
    • What is the real message it is trying to share?
      • What is the intent behind the content?
        • How does it make you feel?
          • Is it in alignment with you?

            This will probably bring some light to the fact that there is a lot of content that we might read or listen to a few lines without giving it much conscious attention. This is the content that could be reaching further into our thoughts than we previously imagined and planting seeds that we don’t want to grow inside of us.

            To protect our mind from these invaders, the best approach is to choose more consciously what reaches our eyes and ears. Again, we only have so much control over this, but we are looking for improvementnot perfection.

            Making more conscious choices could look like:

              • Unfollowing certain sources in our newsfeed or social media
              • Setting new boundaries with people around the kinds of conversations we want to have
              • Replacing time spent in spaces we don’t have much control over with podcasts, books, etc.… that feed us supportive concepts and information
              • Giving ourselves a break from the information overload of our world

              Just to be clear, this isn’t with the purpose of turning a blind eye to things that make us uncomfortable, nor is it an effort to isolate ourselves from others who have different opinions. I believe it’s quite important to connect with others who might challenge us. The purpose is to reduce the opportunity for our subconscious to be hooked accidentally by influences we did not consciously choose. 

              Our world is consistently getting louder, more influential, and more creative in the ways information and opinions are shared. It is up to us to be savvier about what we let in through the senses, and that takes mindful action. We all could use a little more inner peace, and protecting our subconscious is one of the ways we can find it.

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