Thoughts Shape Our Future

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Our thoughts can give us power that we never thought we had, and they can also destroy power we always thought we had. It all depends on the kind of thoughts we choose to dwell upon.

The knowledge that we have the power to choose our thoughts is a secret, revealed to or, discovered by people who are "fortunate" and "successful." Others believe that they don't have a choice regarding what they think and how they feel. They believe that negative and disturbing thoughts come from nowhere and invade their mind. Others believe that they have always thought and felt this way; as though they were born that way. Some don't think they have any thoughts before they react in a regretful way, "I just did. I don't know why."

Take for example, the anxious thoughts, that is, the thoughts that fuel the fire of fear burning within. This, we see as fire burning without. So, we start running away from lot of things that surround us. This leads us to believe that the only way to stay safe and alive is by avoiding the "dangers" or by locking our doors and windows, "Katie, bar the door." But, the fact is that there is no predator out there. More often, the demons are inside us.

Almost all anxious thoughts are irrational. We worry about everything, ranging from things less likely to happen to those that are most unlikely to happen. We are not afraid because the things are so dangerous, but due to the fact that we don't believe in ourselves. All things are not lions and tigers, they appear to us as lions and tigers because our perception of ourselves and others is distorted. We underestimate our own power and overestimate the danger of things that confront us.

A lady I saw the other day, has almost stopped going out and meeting others, except for times when she has to. At the most, she would go to stores and pick her children up from school. "Why don't you go out and meet people socially?" I asked. "Because I may have a panic attack in front of other people," she replied with a can't-you-guess-silly-look. "What will happen if you have a panic attack in front of other people?" I pressed. Her reply, "They may take me to jail or a mental hospital." She was serious. She believed that people don't understand anything about panic attacks, so they would either think she is "crazy" and lock her up in a mental hospital or, think of her as a "public nuisance," and lock her up in a jail.

Did she ever see it happen? No. She couldn't tell me one specific incident in which someone had a panic attack and was sent to jail or a mental hospital. Her fear is based on irrational thoughts about how she would act in case of a panic attack, and how others would react to her. In reality, in a panic attack, she would have several uncomfortable symptoms such as, breathing fast and shallow, heart pounding, sweating and shaking and trembling. When those symptoms occur, other people are either going to look away and pass by or try to help her in anyway they can. That is the reality. Though, I couldn't convince her entirely about this in just one meeting. However, with some more work she should be able to believe it wholeheartedly.

Anxiety is heightened by the fact that we don't accept ourselves as we are. Accept yourself. Be compassionate to yourself when you think of your limitations. Some generate a lot of fear and tension by such irrational thoughts as, "I am sure they will think I am weak or weird." You have to first accept that you are neither weak nor weird. You are reacting just like many other human beings would. It is self-criticism and self-dislike that makes a person "weak" or "strange."

Thoughts such as, "I am boring, I am uninteresting, I am a failure or I am inferior to everyone else," will just do that, make the thinker of those thoughts boring, uninteresting, a failure and inferior to others. Thoughts do have power because we become what we think about all day long.

When anxiety escalates, the mood plummets. People feel miserable and anxious for so long that they begin to feel there is something seriously wrong with them, that they are abnormal or that God doesn't want to see them happy. This could mark the onset of depression. If something or someone doesn't help them to snap out of it, they become chronically depressed. This is how anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Not to ignore the fact that some stay angry with themselves, others and the whole world because of the "hand life dealt them."

Long-term stress can cause various kinds of physical ailments, more commonly, the stomach problems, heartburn, hypertension, headaches and back pain. Unresolved emotions can manifest themselves in physical symptoms. Once physical symptoms show up, we get totally focused on the treatment of the physical problem and continue ignoring the emotional challenges. Long-term physical illnesses deal a major blow to the self-esteem of a person and thus the vicious cycle of anger, anxiety and depression continues.

Therefore, to stay psychologically and physically healthy, we should often perform self-examination, "What is the effect of my thoughts on me. Do my thoughts evoke positive mood, attitudes and feelings or the opposite?

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2000, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor