“Thoughts become things – choose the good ones”
This ‘quote’ although well meaning, emanates from sloppy thinking and often creates the opposite effect to what was intended.
It is of course intended convey the idea that we can control our thoughts and that in any given situation we can choose the thoughts that are most useful to us at that time.
However, reducing a complex message to a trite ‘quotable’ line leaves it open to misinterpretation.
Thoughts, as and of themselves, do not become things. Even thoughts that are repeated many times a day do not become things.
- How many times does a teenage boy think about having sex and how many times does it happen?
- How many times does a parent think about their child having a tragic accident and how many times does it happen?
- How many times does someone in debt think about winning the lottery and how many times does it happen?
In some cases these thoughts are accompanied by vivid visualisations, a technique that most ‘positive thinking’ gurus will tell us is almost guaranteed to turn the thought into reality. It doesn’t.
In most cases there is no harm done other than a waste of time and most people quickly realise that simply thinking about something does not manifest it. However, what if someone’s child really did have a tragic accident? What if someone is diagnosed with cancer and despite all thinking and visualisation about the cancer disappearing, it doesn’t?
What happens when these people read trite comments like ‘Thoughts Become Things” and “What you think about is what you get ” and “Your life is a result of the way you think”?
Guilt – that’s what happens.
To add to their troubles these folk now have to cope with the idea that they have brought their misfortunes on themselves and that if only they were able to control their thoughts they wouldn’t have to face the tradgedies that have resulted from them.
This is of course, utter rubbish. We can control our thoughts and day by day choose those that result in positive emotions. We can choose to be offended or ignore a chance remark made by a friend. We can choose to believe the newspaper reports that create fear and anxiety and instead believe that most people are fair and honest. We can choose to believe that we are worth loving and have lots to offer the world even when teachers and parents tell us otherwise. We can choose how we react when tragedy strikes and give meaning to lives that are lost. Our beliefs and values – not to mention the action we take – play a huge part in this and so thoughts alone are not enough to make things happen.
What we can’t control is the randomness of bad things happening and this, I believe, is why most people buy into the idea that if only we learn how to turn thoughts into things we can avoid pain and lead charmed lives. It simply isn’t helpful.
Once we realise that bad stuff happens randomly – even to people who think only good thoughts, and that we have absolutely NO control over anything but the way we choose to react to it we can stop wasting time on trying to think our way to a better life and instead work out how to be , do and have the things we really want, safe in the knowledge that whatever happens along the way, however painful, we WILL be able to deal with it.
This was precicely the point I was trying to make during a discussion on a book entitled "The Secret". I think I used the words mumbo jumbo so your article is a lot more articulate!
Positive thinking and a "can do" mentality are essential but you need to plan and review any setbacks. Addressing the setbacks and formulating a new approach is the way forward. To believe that a greater power exists and dictates your fate depending on what you think seems odd to me.
However it does seem to do some people good and if they are seeing results then I support their personal approach. I can also see the dangerous side which could send people who are depressed further down the slippery slope when results are not achieved.....
@Thetaxfather Its your final point that I find hardest to deal with Peter. The writers of stuff like "The Secret" try to make people believe that if things aren't working they are "doing the wrong sort of thinking". Vulnerable people don't need that kind of crap.
I quite agree. "Stuff" happens to everyone and is often outside of our control. The thing we can control is how we react to it. Do we see problems or challenges? Do we wallow in the past or learn and move on? Life is an adventure to be enjoyed.