• Melissa McGrath

Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Updated: Jun 24

As simplistic as it may sound, our emotions are the reactions to thoughts we give attention to.

We decide what we will and won't give attention to, whether something is going to annoy us or not, whether we are capable of joy and happiness or not. And behaviours come about through these existing belief systems. Makes sense right? Our reality, life as we see it, is entirely up to us. Nobody else. The old adage of whether we see 'that glass as half full or as half empty' is very true. So how have those thoughts we have and the beliefs we live with, become embedded in the first place and how did the behaviours we now live by and act out take hold ......

According to cognitive neuroscientists, we are conscious of only about 5 percent of our cognitive activity. Yes, 5 %. So most of our decisions, actions, emotions, and behavior depends on the 95 percent of brain activity that, goes beyond that …. in our subconscious mind. From the way you might react differently to someone else in the same situation, what our political persuasions are, career aspirations, right through to health and fitness and the relationships we have been in: we rely on something that is called the adaptive unconscious, which is all the ways that our brain understands the world around us.

So how has our brain learnt to understand the world, or our interpretation of the world mores the point? Primarily through what we have experienced, learnt and witnessed during our childhood. In basic terms, that can either work for us or work against us in adulthood and throughout our lives. It is widely reported how crucial the first 7 years of our lives are, in terms of what we learn and what we are exposed to. However to a lessor but still important degree, are all of the years leading up to when we pack our bags and make our own way in the world. There are reasons why some of us would tell the cashier that they have given us $5 too much change whilst others might not, why some people end up in gaol from robbing a petrol station whilst for the majority to undertake such an action is incomprehensible etc. Why do some put up with less than respectful treatment from who they are with, staying around even if a spouse / partner is clearly bad for them? Etc. Almost any question you can ask in this regard can be linked back to the environment in which we grew up. Personalities we have been born with sure, but even the most innately optimistic personalities can unfortunately be hindered by upbringing.

It is worth taking a moment of thinking about your childhood, the attitudes and the actions you were surrounded by. Therein will lie much of who you are today. We can take many positives from our personal experiences and wonderful things that occurred as children, but it is productive to also recognise the negatives. It is the latter that contribute to problems later in life, but in recognising that is taking the first step to rectifying it.

Think about work ethic; or how you view unemployed people; how you view other cultures; family relationships and what they mean; what happiness means; what makes you angry. Maybe gauge how much you have evolved over the years through self-enlightenment, experiences and meeting other people in order to change what you once thought as true? Or, without even thinking, do a lot of your beliefs and your actions still stem from your childhood and the role models in your life back then?

The trouble is, our conscious day to day mind doesn’t recognise unfamiliarity. So it resists change. That is, attitudes and beliefs that are not our ‘norm’. Even if new more productive thoughts and behaviours might serve us better, we tend to stick to existing beliefs because we draw upon them without thought. And I know I am writing now as though our mind and our thoughts are a third party, but that is because in a way this is how we should see particularly our subconscious mind. For our subconscious mind will do everything to revert to existing beliefs and what has been learnt and repeated.

So unless you change this power source – your subconscious mind where all your learnt behaviour is stored – the outward you will find change difficult. Long term anyway. And herein lies the frustration. Most of us for example, are aware of losing weight only to gain it again a year later. Or decide to cut down on spending, or over-drinking etc for it to only last 3 months, or don't attempt to go for a job we might love because we don't think we aren't up to it. This is because we have not changed the reasons behind the behaviours we wish to change.

I have a good friend who was brought up with an overly strong work ethic in her family. That is a positive right? Well it is sure, if there is balance i.e a balance of pursuing a future, mixed with having some fun. But this person wouldn't dream about giving herself a break and only working say 4 days per week even though she doesn't need any more money than that. Her mindset would be that is an indulgence.

Such examples of course are not devastating. Just like the parent that associated food with love was doing that out of good intentions, but later caused you an unhealthy association with food in order to feel comforted and rewarded. Not all childhood experiences had bad intent by parents, but the the point is that outcomes can be quite negative. Some clients I have seen have been impacted much more significantly due to more serious events in their past. The results or the on-going coping mechanisms of such issues as these often go on to include drug taking, over-eating, alcoholism, and being drawn to relationships that are unhealthy.

Many techniques can be used in order to ‘re-program’ learnt behaviour and existing entrenched beliefs. These techniques change considerably depending upon whether you wish to address a habit you want to rid yourself of, whether it is to get to the bottom of anxieties or depression, or to move forward after a prior traumatic event. There is no standard practice that should be utilised for everybody. You're unique. And you just might be a little kinder to yourself, with understanding how your behaviours have come about 😊.

We all deserve to be living our best life.

#movingforward #positivechange #anxiety #addictions #depression #happiness

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