Every day, we think about 50,000 thoughts, that’s a lot of thinking! A lot of our thoughts are the same, I bet you can think up thoughts that you repeat to yourself on a daily basis. In yoga, we focus a lot on the messages that we tell ourselves while attempting or holding a challenging pose, because when we face challenges it’s incredibly easy to slip into negative thinking. But how often do we think negative thoughts even when we aren’t trying to get that leg straight in Birds of Paradise? If I let myself think all of the thoughts that come into my head, I would be a really negative person. If just misplacing my keys was enough to make me think of myself as a ‘forgetful piece of junk’, imagine what a worse situation would bring up. With all of that in mind, here are 3 ways to become more aware of your thoughts.
1. Tap In
Pretend that you’re a fly on the wall of your own thoughts and just take note of them. When you think negatively about a situation, try to think through what prompted it, did you forget to put gas in the car last night and now you’re rushing to fill up before work? Maybe your jeans are fitting a little snug and you feel like you’re undoing all your hard work at the gym. Just become observant as to what draws up these thoughts, don’t try to change them, just notice them.
2. Think Before You Speak
A lot of what we think comes out of mouths, think about when someone compliments you, are you one of the few who says, ‘thank you!’ or are you more likely to say something like, ‘ugh, no, you’re way prettier than me’. My guess is that if you’re in the second camp then that is really what you’re saying to yourself, and it is coming out in your interactions. Try this, next time someone compliments you and you want to say something that demeans you, be aware of what you want to say, say ‘thank you’ but then reflect on why you want to say something that hurts your self image.
3. Think Your Thoughts
Like the rest of the world, our thoughts are instant gratification and they move faster than bullet trains. To become more aware of your thoughts try thinking your thoughts all the way through. If you’re contemplating taking up guitar and then you see a billboard for a new restaurant you’d like to try, wait until you finish thinking about guitar before deciding which friend you’ll try out the restaurant with. By slowing down your thoughts, you validate them and bring your attention to them completely. Our minds have a habit of running on autopilot, you’ll recognize this if you meditate, how many times do you have to “bring your attention back to your breath” because you’ve started trying to remember what all was on the shopping list. Turn off autopilot and actually take the time to think your thoughts, if you don’t feel like committing to the thought, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t serve you, just make sure not to shut out your thoughts about how amazing you are.