Do you get stressed out or become anxious on a regular basis?
Of the 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts we have daily, 95% are repetitive thoughts and 80% are negative. That means the majority of our thoughts are negative.
Where do those thoughts comes from? Many of the thoughts we have are not our own. As we grow up, we are likes sponges. From very early on, we learn the language, dialect, reactions, attitudes, habits and thought patterns. All these patterns, like driving a car, begin as conscious thoughts and actions. As we become more and more accustomed to the actions and thought patterns, they become a habit or an unconscious action. The same happens with other parts of our lives.
Let’s look at money for example. Money or financial uncertainty used to cause me to react negatively and immediately project into the future of all the bad things that might happen if I can’t pay my bills. For example, when we have something that comes up that’s unexpected, like car problems, it can throw us for a loop. It instantaneously puts us in survival mode. This response is the same instinct that we would have if we were chased by a lion or held over a cliff by our ankles.
The amygdala reacts to the threat, the sympathetic nervous system encourages the release of adrenaline and to sustain that heightened sense of alertness, our adrenal glands releases cortisol. This is what we experience as stress. This creates fear, lack of control and anxiety. Now, if you multiply this response to work, kids, sickness, relationships, and less than optimal sleep and diet, then we are in constant state of stress.
So, when we have those stressful thoughts, we create this chemical, physiological and biological response which creates emotions that reinforces the thought pattern and so the cycle of thoughts, emotions and chemical, physiological and biological response begins. While we are being bombarded by this response, we tend to complain about it to others which further reinforces the cycle, keeping ourselves stuck in the mud.
How we react to certain situations can be an indicator of how we react to other situations. For example, if we get stressed about money, we tend to get angry quickly, we tend to get irritable when we are hungry, have trouble sleeping and ruminate over these things to the point where the world is going to end. When we feel these emotions, there is a cellular change in the body. Because we are in a chronic state of stress, our body becomes dependent on those chemical responses. This response changes the reward center of the brain, even if it is not good for the body. Even when a threat isn’t real, the body doesn’t know the difference between an imagined threat and a real one.
How to fix our internal chemical addiction
If you think you might be addicted to the chemicals in your body, ironically the way to fix it is the same as the cause. Imagination. If we use our imagination for positive outcomes instead of the disastrous ones we create in our mind, we can create positive emotions and chemical responses like gratitude, love, happiness and so on. The body won’t know the difference and you can begin to reverse the addiction.
Another solution to this issue of internal self-created chemical addiction is meditation. Meditation can help us create an environment of none thinking, so when we do have life circumstances hit us (which is inevitable by the way) we can learn to respond with a new way of thinking instead of the one that we grew up with. We’ve all said this before. I have my fathers temper, or I have my mother’s patience etc. That is a learned characteristic.
Although our thought conditioning happened over a long period of time, we can rewire our brain to change our reactions into responses. We can change that first thought or at least pause after that first thought and create a second thought, that will change the emotion, which will change the meaning we assigned to that thought. This will change our chemical response and eventually our future.
The reason I say it can change our future, is because now we have broken a pattern of thought (our past). Our past thoughts are a great predictor of our future, so if we can change our thoughts, we change our future. It will take some serious work, but it can be do