Why you want to be aware of your thoughts and their effects on your wellbeing.
"If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought again." Peace Pilgrim
What we habitually think and do become hardwired into our brains, which contribute to defining who we are.
As humans we are blessed with the ability to build on our past experiences and future opportunities, whether negative or positive ones. Especially today, with science providing us with so much information regarding how our brains function and how our thought-life can affect our health and wellbeing positively or adversely. Toxic thoughts are like poison, but the good news is, you can break the cycle of toxic thoughts. And once that cycle of toxic thinking has been broken, your thoughts can actually start to improve in every area of your life – your relationships, your health and your personal/professional accomplishments. (Who Switched Off My Brain-Dr. Leaf Ph.D.). You are not doomed to your current thought life if you are not happy with it. As long as you can think, you can make better thought choices.
Stress: That word has certainly become part of our daily vocabulary and way of life. It’s connotation has come to mean something negative and toxic. But stress is not all bad. In fact, it does have benefits when used in moderation and for only short periods at a time.
When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action.
Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength, stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight, flee from the danger at hand or meet a deadline to complete a school or work related task. At the end of the emergency situation, whether life threatening, or racing to meet the deadline to complete an important project, the body will bounce back to a normal state. You feel relieved and calmer.
So stress is necessary for your well being and survival, in short doses. It’s when it spills over into our everyday life and becomes chronic that it’s a problem. Our bodies weren’t meant to be under constant attack. That’s when your health and well being become threatened. (Article- Understanding Stress from helpguide.org).
Cortisol regulates and supports functions in your heart, immune system and metabolism. But high levels through the brain can cause impaired memory and dendrites to shrink and fall off. (Who Switched off My Brain?-Dr. Caroline Leaf, Ph.D.) Can you recall taking an important test and not able to remember the answer? It wasn't until later, after you calmed down, the answer came to you.
The most dangerous thing about stress is that it can sneak up on you without you realizing it. In a sense it has become a new normal for many people, but nevertheless, it still wreaks havoc on your body. Your body is paying a price for it, whether you realize it or not. That stress can turn into depression, anxiety, high blood pressure (the silent killer), angina, coronary artery disease and other health issues that may necessitate the need for medications and/or render you less efficient to perform your daily tasks, whatever they may be.
Stress wears different faces. It could be as obvious as a life threatening situation such as a predator chasing you, or it could wear the face of trying to fit in a days worth of errands into one hour. A less obvious look would be worrying about making ends meet while sitting in your easy chair. Stress could be based on fact or fiction. The brain doesn’t know the difference, and will respond to both in the same manner.
Your thoughts create changes right down to the genetic levels, restructuring the cells’ make up. Stress is the direct result of toxic thinking. This is more than an increased heart rate and an uneasy feeling. I’m talking about chronic stress and a habituated toxic thought life – worry, anger, jealousy, resentment, etc. Frequent quantities of chemicals released into your body can distort the DNA of the immune cells, which renders them less effective in killing cancer cells. This may be an extreme example, but your body is being taxed in negative and harmful ways.
Habitual thinking patterns that cause intense feelings of fear, anger, shame or guilt are not only toxic, but also addictive in nature. (Toxic Thinking Patterns – How Pseudo “Feel-Goods” Put a Hold On Your Brain (1 of 2) By Athena Staik, PH.D.)
As your thoughts become habituated, they eventually become hardwired. As I stated in my previous article, “neurons that fire together, wire together” and at that point you’re pretty much on autopilot (which is your subconscious behavior- a conditioned response). If you’re addicted to something, you seek it out. You want more of it – like a drug addict seeking out more drugs or needing that cup(s) of coffee in the morning. Our body and mind get used to something and want more of it and in some cases seek it out on a subconscious level (Who consciously wants turmoil in their life?).
When a thought has been developed over time – months, years – it’s easier to activate that neuro-net without really thinking about it – it’s on “autopilot,” unless you make a conscious decision to shut it down. I liken it to the app programs that run in the background sucking up of the battery life on your phone and iPad, until you go back and deliberately shut them off. Your toxic thoughts are always running in the background sucking up your energy and precious cerebral real estate that could otherwise be used for a more productive thought life.
Every time you have a thought such as for anxiety, stress, worry, or compassion, the brain fires in the same sequence, pattern and in the same combinations for that thought. So overtime as you continue to produce the same type of thoughts, your neurons fire in the same ways creating a network, a stronghold of thinking, so to speak. When you make a thought a chemical is being released in another part of your brain to match the way you think. The brain is in constant communication with the body. Now you think the way you feel and feel the way you think. As a feeling pops up somewhere in your body (for me it may be in the pit of my stomach, chest or neck, when I’m worried, stressed or experiencing fear) it will trigger the thought to match that feeling. It’s the same in reverse – a thought will trigger the feeling. And so the cycle goes. (Dr. Joe Dispenza – “The Science of Changing Your Mind”).
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you eat or what you drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these". Mathew 6:25-34.
Toxic thinking wreaks havoc on your body, health, wellbeing, and spiritually. It robs you of peace, happiness and forming healthy and loving relationships and much more. It’s never too late to change your thought life, if you want to, no matter your age. I’m 65 and still learning and evolving. Think good thoughts, learn to let go and let God- control is an illusion anyway. We only think we’re in control. The only thing we can control is our thought life and how we decide to respond to our circumstances. Have a blessed week.
One more thing. Please read the “Just a few more facts” below. Peace. Out.
Just a few more facts:
- The average person has over 30,000 thoughts a day.
- Through an uncontrolled thought life we create the conditions for illness – we can make ourself sick!.
- Research shows that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones.
- Neurologically, your heart is sensitive to what you think and feel. Your thoughts directly affect your heart.
- The signals your heart sends to your brain influence not just perception and emotional processing, but higher cognitive functions as well.
- Toxic thoughts and the emotions they generate interfere with the body’s natural healing process. They compound the effects of illness and disease by adding new negative biochemical processes that the body must struggle to overcome.
- When your body faces toxic thoughts and emotions, it cannot discern its true enemy and attacks healthy cells and tissue, losing its ability to fight the true invaders.
- A sudden burst of stress lowers immunity (one way to catch a cold).
- Researchers show that 87% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life.
- What we think affects us physically and emotionally.
- Resentment, bitterness, lack of forgiveness and self-hatred are just a few of the toxic thoughts and emotions that can also trigger immune system disorders.
- There is intellectual and medical reasons to forgive!