Every thought we think creates a biochemical response in our bodies. These reactions vary from negligible to intense. Science has known this for some time. If we think about food, our saliva glands may be stimulated. When we think of the person that irritates us most, our bodies constrict and tense up. When we reflect upon our most fulfilling moments, endorphins are released in our bodies and we feel more relaxed and at peace. Every memory, whether positive or negative, elicits an internal physical response. When a sexual thought crosses our mind, well…you know what can happen biologically. But, I’ll keep this article G-rated…you get the idea. With every thought, there is a bio-chemical response in our body.
The impact of a thought on our nervous systems ranges in intensity, depending on the level of “emotion” associated with the thought. For example, reflecting on the death of a love one, is likely to create a deeper emotional response than remembering to buy toothpaste or noticing you stepped on an ant. The more intense the emotion, the greater the impact the thought has on the physical body and the more likely we may become addicted to it. Thoughts don’t require an external stimulus to be elicited, which means we can indulge in any thought repeatedly – at any time we choose. As human beings we experience and enjoy a VARIETY of emotions on a daily basis, yet we also innately seek FAMILIARITY…even if it’s NOT positive.
The emotions we experience consistently become a part of our comfort zones and our identities…as they are habitually conditioned into our lives. Until we get conscious about them we remain victims to these patterns. How CONSCIOUS are you in “choosing” your thoughts? How conscious are you of the emotional patterns that are running our lives? What thoughts and emotions are you addicted to? The quickest way to evaluate this for yourself is to take inventory by noticing the emotions you experience repeatedly throughout the week. These are the emotions your body has grown accustomed to experiencing…and unconsciously works to elicit. Anger, stress, anxiety, fear, depression, sadness, overwhelm, frustration, guilt, and worry may be a few of the thought/emotional patterns to investigate more closely. Behind every emotion is a thought or set of thoughts. This is how they continue to be conditioned. If stress is a common pattern in your life, you may have thoughts such as, “_______needs to be accomplished before I can relax.” Or, “I have too much to do.” Or, “I can’t get it all done.” If depression is something you experience, something as basic as, “I feel depressed” may be the thought feeding the emotion. We may have one or multiple thoughts feeding an addictive pattern. You may also experience a variety of positive or empowering emotions also. Love, joy, happiness, peace, excitement, pleasure, playfulness and a sense of purpose are a few. Investigating the thoughts associated with empowering emotions is useful because we can learn to strengthen and intensify these, which gives us more fulfillment, power, results and connection. As we understand the nature of thought, and these unconscious addictions, we can begin to more CONSCIOUSLY strengthen thoughts that serve and empower us — and reduce the impact of the thoughts and emotional patterns that are debilitating.
One of the ways we can break addictions to thoughts and emotional patterns that don’t serve us is to look at the ”payoff”. We continue to overwork an emotional muscle because at some level we subconsciously believe that it serves us in some way. A “payoff” is a perceived benefit we receive when we engage the emotional pattern. We may use ANGER because we notice that people pay attention to us more closely with this intense emotion, thus connecting with us and our ideas more. We may connect to DEPRESSION because it may prevent us from failing if we try…or maybe it allows us to connect to others who share a similar story. We may enjoy STRESS or ANXIETY because we believe it’s what drives our motivation and we fear we’d be less productive if we eliminated it. We may be addicted to GUILT because that means we care. We may wallow in thoughts of ROMANCE because it gives us hope. Unfortunately, the benefit we subconsciously believe we’re receiving, is generally NOT really giving us the FULL BENEFIT we desire. For example, with ANGER…are people REALLY paying more attention? Are they connecting with us and our ideas in the manner we truly desire? When we’re STRESSED and ANXIOUS are we really MORE productive or less productive? Is GUILT, the most effective way to demonstrate that we care? Does DEPRESSION keep us safe from failing, or do we experience a greater sense of failure in the state of depression. With virtually EVERY dis-empowering emotion there is a false payoff we subconsciously connect to, and that keeps us locked unconsciously in this addictive pattern. However, if we slow down and question this logically, we’ll quickly see that the payoff isn’t really giving us what we’re seeking. When we do this, the mind has a way of releasing its grip on that thought. Thus, creating room for a new emotional and thought pattern that can serve us better.
SOULFUL Challenge: Increase your AWARENESS around the most dominant thoughts that you experience throughout your week. Pay close attention to the emotional patterns that aren’t empowering you. Identify the thoughts or set of thoughts that are driving the emotion. See if you can find the subconscious “payoff” or benefit that allows you to indulge in this pattern, and see if it’s REALLY giving you what you desire. You may experience the pattern diminishing or vanishing completely.
Because the topic of THOUGHTS is a big one, you can read more in another article called “Transforming Your Thought Patterns”. In the meantime, continue to expand your awareness of your addictive thought patterns. Notice the positive and negative aspects. We can remain victims to these biochemical responses or we can we use this information to empower our lives more fully. The choice is always ours.