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Brainwash Yourself to Succeed – Control Your Negative Thoughts


I keep thinking, in fact, I keep thinking even when I would rather not. My thoughts are not always productive, actually unproductive most of the time. Napoleon Hill once wrote:

Self-disciplined begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do. Simply, self-discipline enables you to think first and act afterward. – Napoleon Hill

I guess, based on Hill’s view I suck.

Every Self-Help section is full of crap about this topic, how to control thoughts, how to eliminate negative thoughts, it’s mostly fluff, I read it. Quality of content is what counts, quantity is what a lot of people are selling.

Without your thoughts, your world doesn’t exist. Thoughts are how we make sense out of the visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory inputs from our environment, scientific gobbledigook in short, what we see, hear, feel and smell. Thoughts are the precursor to every (conscious) action. We are able to start thoughts deliberately, yet it is difficult to control some thoughts once we have them and often putting thoughts aside is only partially successful if at all. Thoughts are who we are, in as far as how we define ourselves. Fascinating stuff!

Uncontrollable thinking, often keeps me awake at night, robbing me of my much needed sleep and the good night’s rest I was looking forward to. Interestingly it is worry (negative thoughts) that keeps me awake, pleasant thoughts allow me to fall asleep pretty fast. I know what you are thinking, your pleasant thoughts must be boring as shit, not so…

Uncontrollable thinking is what keeps me from being as productive as I could be, clouding every glimpse of focus like a bathroom mirror on a cold winter morning after stepping out if the shower.

Your thoughts are also what everyone desires to influence, including me. While I consider myself harmless, even attempting to help you better deal with your thoughts and not just your negative thoughts, most others pursue ulterior, more self-serving motives. World-wide industry and government spend billions each day to control what is going on in your mind, brainwash every facet of your thinking, from your view of the world to what you are paying attention to (the red, blinking SALES sign) and minute aspects of how you see yourself (your face’s fine lines and wrinkles and supposed social impact). I will venture out to say: Without this constant manipulation our world would be very different. Therefore:

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to take control of your thinking, because that is the only way you can change your life and your perception of it.

Psychology groups thoughts into conscious and unconscious, what we are aware of and what not. This distinction doesn’t hold 100% because sometime things we previously considered unconscious can become conscious and thoughts can also transfer from your consciousness into your unconscious, but that is beside the point.

How to Control Thoughts

If thoughts are that important, and I hope I sufficiently made that point, then it is imperative to learn how to keep your thinking aligned with your priorities and your mind as clean as possible; brainwashing would actually achieve quite the opposite. I suggest two areas to focus on:

Protect your unconscious: Eliminate all unnecessary messages from your environment, i.e. don’t watch TV, ignore all forms of commercials, among other things and focus your attention on what you consider important. But I am aware of those things, I hear you ask, why would that protect my unconscious? Simple exposure, even if you don’t pay attention, helps marketers and PR gurus anchor messages in your brain. If you want to terminate their influence over you, the best defense is elimination. Unfortunately this strategy is NOT 100% actionable because it will be difficult to get rid of all unwanted messages; just like unsolicited calls they keep showing up.

Guide your conscious: An idle mind is like an unattended garden, weeds (like negative thoughts) creep in and take over. Decide on what is important in your life and focus your attention on that. I notice that when I am fully immersed in an activity I hardly ever have stray thoughts. It is when my mind is idle that havoc starts to set in.

Buddhist Monks voluntarily simplify their lives (an old concept reinvigorated as Minimalism today) and work hard to learn how to focus their thoughts on whatever it is they are doing at the time, fully immersing themselves in the present. I am not suggesting to follow Steve Job’s example and head over to Tibet right away, just to let the image of the Monk guide you. We, as entrepreneurs, unfortunately often do exactly the opposite, constantly thinking of either what was or might be, jeopardizing our joy of every fleeting moment or worse the very life we are seeking to live. Now you know.

Be awesome!

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Thanks to those talented photographers who’s images we used in this post. They are listed by their Flickr usernames:

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8factorsInfinitely curious, optimistic, logical thinker out there enjoying life!View all posts by 8factors →