Look After Your Mind No. 1 - ‘You Are What You Think’.
The idea that our thoughts have a profound effect on our personalities is an ancient one. In the Bible, Proverbs 23:7 says ‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.’ Translated into modern terms we can pick out a few related principles.
The mind and the body are linked. Our thoughts, feelings and bodies are connected. Just think of an occasion when somebody made you laugh and it will probably raise a smile for you again. Think of an unpleasant experience and you might find yourself tensing, your heart starting to beat faster, and so on.
We have a conscious and a subconscious aspect to our minds. Our conscious thoughts are ones we know we are having, we usually know why we are thinking these things, and we can choose to think something different.
Subconscious thoughts consist of mental activity that happens outside the notice of our conscious minds. The subconscious never sleeps: it is continually active, running the automatic systems of the body.
Broadly speaking, what we consciously think about, we subconsciously react to. So if, for example, I notice my nose is itching, I decide to scratch it. I consciously made that decision, but I didn’t think about what the muscles and joints in my hand would do to allow me to scratch the itch. Although I could consciously decide not to scratch my nose after all, I give no conscious thought to the way my body works for it to ‘carry out my instructions’.
Another important and related idea, and one that forms the basis of these articles, is that we can exercise the mind to make it ‘fitter’ in the same way that physical exercise makes the body fitter. Here are a couple of suggestions you might want to try out:
1. Deliberate relaxation. Sit quietly and focus your attention on the top of your head. Move your attention slowly downwards. As you notice your forehead, neck, shoulders etc. deliberately let them relax. When your entire body feels relaxed, enjoy it for a minute or two before getting up.
2. Visualising. Exercise your imagination by thinking of a green tennis ball in a plain white room. Make it float in the air, grow larger, change colour, spin by itself one way then another. Have it bounce around the walls. Now make it hover in front of you and suddenly turn inside out with a rubbery pop.
(Steve taught English for 20 years. He is a writer and hypnotherapist and has published fiction for readers of all ages, plus books for teachers on literacy, thinking skills, wellbeing and philosophy. He moved to Kibworth in 2016.)