It’s Possible to Mold Your Thoughts

May 6, 2019
Your thoughts can either be your greatest ally or your worst enemy, and that depends entirely on how you interpret them. But is it possible to actually mold your thoughts? Find the answer in this article!

Thinking is like breathing: we generally do it without even realizing. Our thoughts also help us make decisions. In fact, without these internal mental processes, we’d have a really hard time getting through certain situations, especially uncertain ones. But did you know that it can actually be possible to mold your thoughts?

One of the most important things in terms of how we think is in the way that we explain the things that happen to us. Martin Seligman’s model analyzes how long something affects you for, how widespread we make our thoughts, and how we personalize them or take responsibility for what has happened.

The more permeable your filters are, the more irrational thoughts and worldviews you’ll stick to rigidly. This is the main cause of emotional and behavioral issues.

Paul Watzlawick, a psychologist and professor of Psychology at Stanford University, talks about this in his book, The Situation is Hopeless But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness. He has an ironic description of the way that negative consequences can come out of the most unconscious types of thoughts.

We often forget that we have a lot of power over our minds. It’s not what happens to you that creates the problems, it’s the way you think about what happens, the way you interpret it. So when it comes to judging your life, it’s best to interpret things in a way that doesn’t hurt you and makes it easier to accept what happened.

Havelock Ellis said: ‘The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.’

On the other hand, Albert Einstein said: ‘I’d rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.'”

-Alice Calaprice-

a man wearing glasses has his eyes closed with his hand on his face in thought, and an illustration of gears floating out of his mind

Is it possible to mold your thoughts or your way of thinking?

You can think of your thoughts as a kind of behavior (as well as a belief), and like any behavior, you can mold them. First, you have to understand how they come about. They’re not a concrete thing you can directly change, they come about from an interaction between your body and its environment.

So, if you want to mold your thoughts, you have to understand their causes and effects. In other words, you need to know if they help you or hinder you.

You can’t unlearn a specific way of thinking, but what you can do is learn a different way. Think of it this way: there are behaviors you learn not to do, but that doesn’t mean they disappear, you just stop doing them. It’s the same with thoughts. You learn to modify your self-talk by keeping conscious control over your mind.

If your way of thinking is rigid

If your way of thinking is rigid, dogmatic, or absolute, in terms of obligation, need, or demand, it’ll generally create negative emotions (guilt, anger, anxiety, fear, etc).  Those negative thoughts can stop you from achieving goals, and even cause behavioral changes like isolation or avoidance.

If you want to mold your rigid thoughts, you have to remember that they’re not going to disappear altogether. Do away with the idea of completely overcoming or replacing your thoughts. Just look at it as being more flexible and interpreting things more broadly. This helps you reformulate your beliefs and be more objective about them.

From there, irrational thoughts will start to have much less of an impact on your behavior and your mood. The ultimate goal is to put some distance between what you think and who you are.

So, if you want to try to mold your thoughts and way of thinking, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. What useful thoughts could you start to have instead? What thoughts open you up to rational perspectives and flexible answers?

woman thinking with her hand on her chin

How to use your thoughts without letting them use you

Your thoughts can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. Which of those two things they are depends entirely on you. And don’t forget: you can use your mental processes to figure out what exactly is causing problems for you.

Your thoughts can tell you a lot if you just know the right questions to ask. Why does a particular idea bother you so much? How much significance do you give to a particular thought? Is it really so important?

The problem with thoughts is that we generally have very little control over them. It’s impossible to decide you won’t ever think back on a memory and truly never do it again. The symbolic relationship that connects your thoughts together will simply force you to accept the fact that a thought can come back, even if you don’t want it to.

Thinking rationally means thinking of things in relative terms. Instead of absolute demands, you’d think of desires and likes. People who have a healthy way of thinking don’t get set back by the negative thoughts that come up when they don’t get what they want, they just keep working towards their goals.

We’re trying to show you that balanced thinking is within your reach so long as you make the effort. So, if you put in your part, and do it intelligently, your thoughts can truly become your greatest ally.