You are your thoughts.
Over two-thousand years ago the Greek philosopher Epictetus said that “People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them”.
The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said that: “A Man’s life is what his thoughts make of it”.
The Buddha stated: “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”.
So how do our thoughts affect our physical and mental well-being?
Let me explain.
As you will know our body is made up of various organs, that are in turn made up of cells, that are in turn made up of atoms which, when looked at closely are 99.99999% empty space.
In fact if you took all of this empty space out of every atom in your body what would be left in terms of physical state would be nothing bigger than a grain of sand. And if you took all of the empty space out of every atom in every human being on the planet (all 8 billion of us) which would be left would be nothing bigger than something the size of a tennis ball or apple.
But this empty space is not actually empty. It is energy. 99.999999% of our physical state is made up of it.
And our emotional state decides what type of energy or frequency range we produce, and all this can be seen and heard if you look and listen closely enough, as I’ll be showing you on our next Conflict Management Trainer Course.
Emotion literally means ‘energy in motion’ and in Latin it means to stir, to agitate, to move.
But what happens when we ‘stir up negative energy’ within ourselves?
Well a number of things happen. We produce toxins that pollute every one of the trillions of cells that make up our physical state. We deplete the immune system that makes us more susceptible to illness and disease and we can actually create physical pain within ourselves.
The fact is when we choose to think in a negative way we produce a maladaptive stress response within ourselves.
For example, if the thought or memory of someone or a situation causes you to react negatively to it, the body reacts as though it is happening right now because our brains do not know the difference between perception and reality.
Now all organisms in nature are designed for short term stress. A gazelle gets chased by a Lion and 15 minutes later it goes back to grazing as if nothing has happened and everything returns to its normal balance.
However, human beings are different. We can turn on the stress response just by thought alone. We can think about a past bitter memory and like magic it comes to life and in that moment it’s real.
When this happens our heart rate increases, our immune system is suppressed, we become more anxious and (in some cases) angry and aggressive because we are not in control of the way we choose to think.
According to numerous experts the core of every symptom of illness, stress and disease are emotions and memories that trigger the maladaptive stress response.
And if we don’t do something about this, these emotions build with now-here to go and at some stage, just like a dam with a crack in it it eventually breaks due to the massive amount of pressure from the water being held back, and a large amount of damage is done.
Thinking negatively and the responses you get from it is also an addiction.
In the same way that taking heroin becomes addictive, so does negative thinking. It produces a chemical reaction in the brain that you come to rely on. So after a short while you need your ‘fix’ so you recall the thought that is responsible for producing the chemical reaction in your brain and the physical reaction in your body accompanied by the behaviour associated with it or you look for the next new reason to justify your negativity.
And the more that happens the more reasons you find for it to happen again. The more you find people and circumstances to blame just so you can have your fix.
Science is now proving that all negative, angry or frustrated thoughts are destructive to our cells and speed up the aging process. And for people with serious illnesses, a pessimistic attitude allowed their condition to worsen faster than anticipated which can shorten their lifespan.
But you can change all of this in a heartbeat!
By choosing to look at things from a different perspective, focussing on the positive things in your life and by being grateful for what you have already received (and I’ll cover more about the power of gratitude in a future post) you can literally change your life to a more healthier and fulfilling one.