Thinking Can Ruin Your Life

If you are reading this you probably think about life more than the “Average Joe” out there. This is a good thing, but you should also be aware that your thinking can potentially hold you back – even to the point of ruining your life. How so? The following are a few ways that have been particularly relevant to my own life.

Matters of the Heart

“You don’t always have to hold your head higher than your heart” – Jack Johnson

When it comes to love, most people have experienced the feeling of receiving different messages from their head and their heart. There is no right answer as to which one you should follow – ultimately it depends on the unique set of circumstances surrounding your situation. You should, however, be aware that sometimes you need to trust in your heart over what your head tells you.

A personal example from my own life is my relationship with my wife. She is Canadian and I am Australian, and we met at a time when a relationship was the last thing on my mind. I had just come out of a long term relationship and I was enjoying the freedom of traveling in a foreign country with no responsibilities. Upon meeting we quickly became very close, but I had to endure my mind telling me, “Don’t get too serious as there is no way this relationship will last”. It is true that we have had more obstacles to overcome than your typical couple, but we trusted in our hearts and have made the relationship work.

My point here is that the mind will often focus on reasons why a relationship won’t work rather than why it might. These may be valid reasons, but you should treat them very carefully and not be afraid to follow your heart on occasions.

Analysis Paralysis

“The maxim ‘nothing but perfection’ may be spelled ‘paralysis’.” – Winston Churchill

golf.jpgGolfers will be familiar with the concept “analysis paralysis”. Basically it involves over-thinking the correct way to hit the golf ball, and usually results in a poor shot due to the natural rhythm of the stroke being lost.

Analysis paralysis is not limited to golf. It can appear anywhere in life where action is required. In my younger days I experienced it when I wanted to approach someone of interest, but was unable to because my mind overanalyzed the situation. Uncontrolled thoughts would race through my mind, such as “what will she say?” or “what if she ignores me or says no?”. I never found out the answer to those questions because I didn’t get to ask them. My thoughts had, in effect, paralysed me.

I have also experienced analysis paralysis with university assignments, work projects and, yes, even blogging. Instead of just getting on with what needs to get done, often I will get bogged down with minor details, tweaks, research… anything really that keeps me from the main task at hand.

If you feel analysis paralysis is something you struggle with, you need to work on silencing your mind. The best way I have found to do this is to practice meditation. If you are interested in learning to meditate, I recommend reading one of our most popular articles: 4 Powerful Reasons to Meditate and How To Get Started.

Possessed By Your Mind

“Most people are so completely identified with the voice in the head – the incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it – that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind.” – Eckhart Tolle

Many of us are all too familiar with the incessant stream that Tolle describes in the above passage. I know once was. It is, of course, natural to have thoughts continually arise in your mind. The problem occurs, however, when we become fully identified with these thoughts.

If you are familiar with Eckhart Tolle, you will know that one of his teachings is that we human beings are not our thoughts, but rather the awareness that perceives our thoughts. The key then to not being possessed by our mind should be obvious: awareness.

You can start to cultivate awareness today by slowing down and paying attention to what you are experiencing in the present moment, rather than letting your mind live in the past or the future. Avoid simply labeling people or things. For example, if you see a bird don’t simply attach the label of “bird” to it and then look away. Instead, take a moment to just observe it and appreciate the complex simplicity of nature.

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In this article I have surveyed some ways in which thinking can potentially ruin your life. Perhaps it gets in the way of true love, stops you from taking action or completely possesses your mind. There is obviously a lot more to say on these topics than what can be discussed here, but rest assured that if these are areas you struggle with, and you can begin to bring awareness to them, you will begin down the path to controlling your thoughts, and in turn your life.

Since this article is about “thinking”, I would love to hear your thoughts about anything discussed in this article in the comments below.

Peter writes about how to enjoy life at The Change Blog. If you enjoyed this article, you may wish to download his free e-book, A Year of Change.

Images courtesy of Fabbio and Jurvetson.

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Here are a few articles that I have recently enjoyed:

5 Signs You’ve Married Your Problems (and How to Divorce Them) – Jonathan Mead

Mind vs. Brain Part I: We Are Only Human – The Financial Philosopher

3 Simple Steps to Kindle Your Inner Fire – Success Soul

Making Your Dreams Come True – Effortless Abundance

Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci – Marelisa Online

Reality Check: Are You Doing What It Takes to Get Ahead in Life? – My Super-Charged Life

Catalysts of Creativity – Be Playful