I studied Shakespeare’s Hamlet for the Leaving Certificate some time ago. One of the famous quotations from that play “Nothing is good or bad, thinking make it so” has been a favourite of mine. Shakespeare informed us such a long time ago of the inherent danger in thinking.
I’m not talking about evaluating, reflecting or expertly analysing… I’m talking about day-to-day thinking and the fact that our thinking is patterned and repetitive … not thinking too much, thinking at all!
We daily do battle with approximately 70,000 thoughts which are almost exclusively the same from one day to the next. These thoughts have little or no bearing on the reality of the moment at hand – they are regurgitated constantly by our subconscious. Many of them are fairly innocuous, the only harm they’ll do you is that they distance you from the reality of the here and now, which is, actually, harm enough. But some of them are doing you real damage. The ones that are lurking deep down and you may not even be aware of them most of the time. We tend to only be aware of these deeper thoughts when we’re in conflict (or think we are!) or have to take some kind of initiative or make a big or bold move. These are the thoughts that whisper “No you can’t” or “Keep your head down”. These are the thoughts that form the fabric of who we think we are.
These deep down thoughts never change. They’re the same as they were when we learned them first during our early childhood. They don’t even adapt to today’s situations, our mind is designed to adapt today’s situations to our deep down thoughts! It’s how we never see reality for what it is and how, even more importantly, how we never get to grips with who we are, who we could be and what we could possibly achieve if we stopped paying (albeit subconscious) attention to these deep down thoughts.
These deep down thoughts, when woven together, form what you call your personality – who you think you are. These thoughts were thrust upon us at a time when our young minds couldn’t filter out the stuff that, in later life, would do us damage. You can’t undo your early learning but you can stop paying attention to it. When you do that, everything changes.
For those of you that have been to our Effective Conflict Management Workshop you will remember that we teach about how you and I are creatures of habit and we act and react in patterns. We encouraged you to move on from those patterns of behaviour that are not working for you – make a different choice. Choose to use constructive behaviours no matter what the other guy is doing or not doing – Perspective Taking, Creating Solutions, Expressing Emotions, Reaching Out.
Perhaps the only thing that is getting in the way of you making these choices is what you are thinking about ……