Episode 40: Managing our minds and understanding how our thoughts work

by | Aug 8, 2022


Knowing that the power over everything in your life starts with your thoughts is one of the best things you can know, but knowing it isn’t enough, we need to learn how to manage the monkeys in our mind that are sending all those messages. Now I’m picturing little monkeys up there tapping away, tap, tap, tap.

Seriously, if people could actually read our minds, they’d probably think we were nuts. And if you’re anything like me, you probably think yourself a bit bonkers some days. Our mind is our most powerful tool yet we aren’t taught how to manage it. Now that is crazy. So this month on the Samantha Leith Show, we’re going to take a quiz at the chaos and learn some ways to manage our minds.

Back in May, 2022, if you’re watching this from some holographic screen in the future, we did work on emotions, feelings, and moods. And now we are delving into the master of all, our thoughts. They control everything, and I mean everything. Over the years, many a wise man, and woman have hypothesized about how we work. And they pretty much all come back to something happens, which sparks a thought, that thought generates an emotion, feeling or mood, which then triggers an action or behavior leading to a result. Simple, right? No.

Who or what is in charge of those pesky little thoughts? If we want to get all scientific, thoughts are electrochemical reactions, our brain is made up of about a hundred billion neurons with trillions of connections or synapses. When chemical neurotransmitters are released, it’s the neuron communicating. Some connections can send up to a thousand signals per second, but on average, it’s about one. So in this time that you’ve listened to this paragraph, you’ve probably sent 20 signals without batting an eyelid.

Understanding how all of this works and relates to external stimuli is a tall order. And one I’m sure they’ll be working on for a very long time to come. Let’s face it, science was not my best subject at school. So let’s move on, shall we? Hang on. See that? Science wasn’t my best subject at school. That’s a thought, my friends, a negative one that’s turned into a steadfast belief. I’m not going to try and turn that around now, but it’s a great example of how something so seemly innocuous can become almost a rule in the guidebook of us.

Way back when, people thought that our minds were done at a certain point, you couldn’t learn anything more and you wouldn’t be able to change how you thought about things. Thankfully, that’s been proven to be incorrect because these wonder machines that we house have the gift of neuroplasticity, which pretty much means we’ve the ability to mold and change what’s going on up top. It’s so powerful. When we look at things like having a growth mindset, episode 33, if you want to have a look, learning something new, developing better habits, or simply being able to flip thoughts from negative to positive, a little faster. Our minds are a machine that didn’t come with a manual and some would think this is a really bad design, or is it? We need to discover how it works and optimize it for ourselves, which guess what? Makes our brains more powerful. Ah, I almost forgot. Don’t think about a pink elephant while I’m talking.

Now, as we age, this collection of thoughts we’ve created form a library and we default to certain thoughts out of a habit or a pattern. And sometimes this is so not good for us. It’s a cycle. Let’s walk through a couple of examples. In the office one day, your boss asks in a meeting for volunteer to something important. Now you’ve never done this kind of thing before, but you know you probably got the least on your plate at the moment. So you think, “I love trying new things. I can always ask for help. Challenges are good. And I usually succeed when I put my mind to it.”

So you say, yes. You feel invigorated by the new work. Get up early, look after yourself more. And you check in with your boss to see how it’s going. Then you openly receive her feedback. You complete the task before due date and get a bonus. That first thought triggered a bounty of good actions that created a result that can be added to your I’m extraordinary file. Or maybe you’re on Bumble, chatting to a person of interest. You set up a date, then they ghost you. You think, “I’m so unlovable. I’ll never find anybody. All men are vile.” So you delete the app. Then you feel lonely because you were enjoying the chatting. You sloth around more and more. Six months later, you feel even worse. And when a friend suggest setting you up, you say, “No, I don’t have the confidence to meet anyone.”

That first thought set off a landslide of actions that prove to you that you’re unlovable. Sadly, this is a pattern that happens way too often to many people. Sometimes we don’t even see it happening till we’ve started going into, or we’re halfway down that negative spiral. Knowing that the power over everything in your life starts with your thoughts is one of the best things you can know, but knowing it isn’t enough, we need to learn how to manage the monkeys in our mind that are sending all those messages. Now I’m picturing little monkeys up there, tapping away, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

It’s also important to know that thoughts are neutral. They may be able to be seen as positive or negative, but they’re not good or bad. And you, my friend, most certainly are not your thoughts. You can’t always change what happens around you, but you can control your mind. Little disclaimer here. If you do have a diagnosed medical condition, the things that I’ll be going through are not a substitute for treatment and you should speak to your mental health professional.

How’s that elephant going? Have you been thinking about them? Hmm. Back to thoughts, you may think, “Oh, the irony that the thought we’re having is the problem.” No, it’s the action or the inaction that’s the problem. What are you thinking about right now? Grab some paper and write. Just do it, no judgment allowed either. That means no reading back your words and thinking it’s silly or dramatic or untrue. This is simply a brain dump of what you are thinking. Seriously, do not say, “I’ll do it later.” Hit the pause button and write.

Welcome back. Welcome back. Welcome back. I can’t remember what that song was. Whoops. You might call this a brain dump or a thought download, and I encourage you to do it often. Get that stuff out of your mind and get to work on more of the good stuff. Did you notice anything? Chances are there’s some thoughts on that paper that you didn’t even know you were having. Bonkers. How is it that something can be percolating up there and we don’t even know? It’s easy and we do it often. It’s as natural as how we walk or breathe without even thinking about it. We can have so much going on in there at any one time that it’s not till we stop and sort through the mess that we find what we’re looking for. Okay. It might not be what we want to find, but I can promise you the thoughts that come to the front, that’s the one you need to be having, the thought you need to find.

Here we go. I’m thinking about that elephant again. Are you? Hmm. Silly, I know, but implanting that seed of thought, the circumstances seeing the elephant, it will have usually triggered little thoughts of elephants. It may have been, “Sam’s an idiot from mentioning elephants.” Or, “I’ve never seen one in real life.” Or, “I still can’t believe people are riding them for entertainment.” Those thoughts would’ve been like a little bit of popcorn on a stove top with the little ones fighting their way to get to the top and some being left unopened in the heat. So many of our thoughts are like that and it can be exhausting. You’re not going mad when you have this jumble happening either, I promise, it’s human. It’s part of the human experience, so embrace it.

For the next week I’d love it if you grab the worksheet, samanthaleith.com/freebies, and note your thoughts during the day. The thought, the circumstance prior to the thought, how you feel about the thought, then the action or the inaction you decided on based on that thought. Pay attention to your mind and the rest will follow.

Thank you for watching this week’s episode of the Samantha Leith Show with me, Samantha Leith. If you’ve liked any of these episodes, I’d love it if you subscribed, shared or commented, because it really helps. And if you want some more support with managing your mind, tag me on social media at Samantha Leith, and let’s have a chat. Remember, those thoughts that take up that space between our ears are capable of supporting our fabulousness or bringing us crashing down. And you, my dear are in the driver’s seat.


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