You can develop a constructive relationship to the constant stream of thoughts in your head.
We have more than the traditional five senses of taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. Your thoughts are also a sense. Instead of being externally driven like the previous five, your thoughts are internal. Your emotions, memories, and desires are internal senses as well. A difficulty with internal versus external senses is that internal senses are experienced subjectively. You are the only one who experiences your thoughts, and they probably rarely — if ever — stop. Just like your eyes continuously see and your ears continuously hear (even when you are asleep), your mind continuously thinks. That is what that sense is designed to do. Thoughts are intended to narrate your life. While thoughts can often seem like they are out of your control, with practice and intention, the stories that your thoughts tell can be directed.
Like behavior, thoughts also tend to be highly repetitive. This can be seen in familiar and habitual thoughts that your life should be different than the way it is right now. Having thoughts like these can apply to the past, present, or future. Thinking and desiring life to be different means that there is a sense in you that wants you to thrive and grow. Thinking that the past should have been different means that there is an opportunity to accept and let go. Thinking the present or future should be different means there is an opportunity to take action.
Practice not fearing your mind and the thoughts that are produced there.
Thoughts are narrating, planning, and forming stories from the perspectives you choose to cultivate, so practice being assertive about the direction that your thoughts go. A main job of your thought sense is to detect threat and protect you, so thoughts will, by design, tend to focus on areas of danger, which will sound negatively and will produce negative emotional states. In order to produce thoughts that sound more positive and produce more positive emotional states, then intentional focus on positive aspects of life is key.
Cultivate and rehearse thoughts that feel good. “I am just fine the way that I am.” “I am not defective.” “I am on a path of improvement.” “I have permission to be here and to grow along the way.” Over time these kinds of thoughts can become habituated. Negative thoughts will never completely go away, but, with practice and time, you will be more in the driver’s seat of the direction of this sense within you. Then, just as you direct your nose to smell a bouquet of flowers, direct your ears to hear a symphony, or direct your eyes to feast on a magnificent sculpture, you can learn to guide your mind to detect beauty in yourself, others, and in the world around you. You will be able to practice seeing your thought sense for what it is — which is a unique ability to develop stories about yourself and your life that involve qualities such as perseverance and fortitude. Curiosity helps direct this path.
Positive thinking can become a tool that you can learn to enjoy.