i think therefore I amCogito ergo sum  or

“I think, therefore I am”

is a philosophical proposition by René Descartes.  The simple meaning is that thinking about one’s existence proves one’s own existence.

Perhaps there is just a small clue in that title to answer the questions Why Do I Feel Anxious?  As we understand more about how the mind works and how powerful our thoughts are, we can look deeper into how this impacts on our lives and how we can start to change who we are, or who we perceive ourselves to be, by becomes aware of how we’re thinking and changing our thinking.

We are all a product of our thoughts – have you every wondered why some people become uba successful multimillionaires, even though they were born into families of a completely different background – have they been born with some sort of business genius or are they just luck – of course not, their own belief systems are responsible.  It is their success blueprint in their brain and the great news is that we can change whatever blueprint we have to whatever we like – it’s our brain!

Ponder this for a moment.  Your brain is YOUR brain – it’s not some artificial or alien intelligence that knows a load of stuff we don’t.  It only knows what you have chosen to believe or, perhaps more importantly, what you have chosen to think – and it IS a choice, we all have the freedom to choose how to think.

AND, how we think determines how we feel and how we feel determines how we behave.

When I was at school doing my O’Levels (yes, it was that long ago), I was so over learning at that time, I saw my O’ levels as the final barrier to freedom and the rest of my life, something I had to do in order to leave school, so I could get a job and leave home.  My goal was leaving home.   So I didn’t feel any particular motivation for doing well in my exams, therefore I didn’t put any effort in.  How many of us as adults look back with the pleasure of hindsight and say “I wish I had worked harder, I could have done so much better”.

But what about Anxiety and Depression.  I hear so many times “I am a worrier” or “I’ve always worried”  people define themselves by their thoughts or feelings – but what’s really happening?   They believe their feelings, but it’s their thought patterns which is causing those feelings in the first place.

Lets take another example – “I get nervous at interviews”, quite a common belief, so for days or even weeks before the interview, they start to forecast that they are going to be nervous, they think about it 50 times perhaps and 50 times they feel nervous – this is clearly just in their mind at that time, but all that negative forecasting is being converted to anxiety and when it comes to the interview – guess what – they’re nervous, and what do they then say – I knew I would get nervous, I always do!  As a good friend once said to me “No sh*t Sherlock”, that person had given themselves the instruction to be nervous – who’s their brain going to believe and take instruction from?

Have you ever come across people who read the side effects in the medicine instructions – do those same people then experience some of the side effects?  Most likely.  We can very easily directly affect our physical health by how we’re thinking.

What about those people who believe they can’t do something or they’re not good at something.  Did Andy Murray get good at tennis just by chance, was he born with a natural ability to hit a ball with a bat?  Of course not, he learned and he practiced, he got a coach and he practiced hours and hours a day.  If you practiced something 8 hours a day, day in day out, do you think you might get pretty good at it – of course you will.  We can’t implant skills, knowledge and information, but we can learn them.  But what happens when we tell ourselves we can’t do, or we’re not good at – we don’t try, so we’re actually right, we can’t!  But if we chose to believe, I’m going to be good at …., we will be enthusiastic, motivated, excited even – then the magic happens, we start creating the correct neurotransmitters, chemical messengers, which link information flowing between brain cells to form neural networks so we develop that skill.

You can relate to this if you drive – do you remember when you had your first driving lesson – mirror, signal, maneuver; then there’s the clutch, which gear you need, accelerator, clutch control, handbrake or hill starts and when you’ve mastered that, you’re also expected to look out for other people on the road, read road signs and know what’s going on around you – all at the same time.  It is one of the most complex skills we have to learn, but we do, we practice, we pass our test and now, I would be willing to bet that most of you don’t even think about it when you’re driving.  We have formed that neural network and the skills has been moved from our conscious mind to our subconscious so it happens automatically.

That’s a practical skill and an easy example to relate to – but what about our thoughts?  It’s exactly the same, if we practice something, we get pretty good at it.  So, if we practice worrying about stuff, we’ll get excellent at worrying.  There’s a saying ‘Practice Make Perfect’; I’m sure you heard that many times growing up from your parents and teachers – great! you can be perfect at worrying if you practice enough, and people do and it becomes a subconscious activity, so many times, they don’t even realise they do it.  But what if we practiced doing something positive or thinking in a positive way instead?  Would you become a positive person, would you define yourself as a positive person?  The answer is a definite YES you would.  It takes practice and you have to be disciplined at practicing – do you think Andy Murray forgets to practice, I’m sure he doesn’t.  But if we do slip and take a day off from being positive, we can just go right back to it, and guess what, it becomes second nature, part of our subconscious and we just are a positive person.

It’s a choice.

If today you chose to be happy or miserable, which would you choose?


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