How much attention do you pay to your thoughts? Are you aware of the impact your thoughts have on your emotions and behaviours?

At Optimist Performance, we believe in the notion: that thoughts influence feelings, and feelings affect our behaviours. We term this the ‘Success Psyche’.

And what it means is that by understanding the process of our thoughts and how they influence our feelings and emotions, we can begin to gain an understanding and control over them, and therefore we can impact our behaviours. 

This is not a simple process, but it’s also not impossible. We have control over it, and even though it takes time and effort, the consequences are immense. 

Some affirmations about thoughts

Thoughts are not real. Having a thought doesn’t automatically make it a reality. Both positive and negative thoughts are only in your mind and are only real as long as you believe and act to make them so. 

A great example of how our thoughts impact our behaviours is Imposter syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is just a thought coming into your mind telling you you can’t do something, but it’s not a reality. 

If you believe it, it will create a feeling of fear, and in consequence, you won’t act to overcome the challenge. On the other hand, if you decide to let that thought go or rationalise that it’s just a thought and not true, you will act despite it.

The thought is the same; the difference is your reaction to it. 

We can control our thoughts. An average person has about 70.000 thoughts per day, but that doesn’t mean we need to engage and act upon all of them. It’s up to us if we want to follow a thought, believe and act accordingly, or just want to let it go. 

Focus on positive feelings and frame situations with a tilt towards the positive. Eventually, your brain will take on a shape that reflects this, hardwiring and strengthening connections around resilience, optimism, gratitude, positive emotion and self-esteem. 

The benefits of focusing on your thoughts

Focusing on controlling your thoughts may seem unnecessary, but the reality is that it can have many positive effects. To name a few:

If you control your thoughts and don’t get caught up in negative or stressful thinking, you will feel less anxious. 

You can develop a growth mindset. A mindset is a set of beliefs, created by your thoughts and experiences. So, by controlling your thoughts, you can create new beliefs, therefore, a new mindset. 

Change your reality. When you consciously focus on thinking positively, you will build your resilience, which will affect how you look at your reality. 

Having more positive behaviours. When you think more positively and have more positive emotions, your behaviours will change too. 

Feelings and behaviours are contagious. Have you ever been running and smiled at another runner? That person probably smiled back at you. That simple act affects not only you but the other person too. If we believe even our small actions have consequences, we can create a fantastic cycle of positive behaviours. 

Some tips to start controlling your thoughts

Pay attention to your thoughts. Suppose you let your mind wander without paying any attention. In that case, the probabilities are that your mind will end up creating a “reality” in your mind that is fictional and potentially damaging. 

You need to deliberately pay attention and work on making the thoughts you want and need. 

So when a thought comes into your mind, consciously pay attention and see where that thought leads you. Once you know that the thought is there, you can decide if you want to follow it or let it go. It’s totally up to you. 

Decide your thoughts. Instead of letting your mind decide the thoughts, consciously focus on the thoughts you want. 

This is what I do when I focus on gratitude. I consciously choose to think about all the things I am grateful for first thing in the morning. And by doing so, I feel more positive during the day. 

You can focus on any kind of positive thought you want; you can dedicate time every morning to think about what you are looking forward to during the day or think about optimistic scenarios that may happen in the future. Whatever puts you in that positive mood and drives more positive thoughts into your mind.

Allow yourself time for negative thoughts and emotions. We are all bound to have negative thoughts and feelings, and that’s fine; we don’t need to get rid of them. 

They are the reason we have survived for so long. But you can decide when you want to focus on these thoughts and emotions. 

A person on my team books herself time to be sad. When she realizes that negative thoughts are coming to her mind more frequently, she acknowledges that it’s time to make an appointment with herself. She consciously books a time for her to let all these thoughts run wild and feel all these emotions, but she does it on her own time and terms, so it doesn’t affect her behaviours or performance. 

My conclusion…

There are certain things in life that we can’t control, but our mind is not one of those. By making an effort to focus on our thoughts and the quality of those thoughts, we can influence our emotions and behaviours. We can take another step towards becoming the best version of ourselves. 

It will take time and effort, but it’s possible, and you will see results. 

At Optimist Performance, we believe and live by the principles of the Success Psyche every day. Our results are more positive emotions and behaviours that allow us to overcome challenges and make the most of every situation.