Avoiding Junk Thought

“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” -William Shakespeare

If I were to ask you to imagine yourself growing an inoperable brain tumor, would you do it? Most of us would hesitate. Why? Because, deep down, we that our mind, or the way we think, can affect our body. 

And you would be right. Modern brain research, as well as quantum physics have discovered that the mind is a form of energy that can affect all the energy around it. For example, depending on how the physicist “looks” at energy it can appear as either a wave or a particle. No wonder quantum theory has often been referred to as “deep magic”. 

The point, however, is this: when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Wrong thinking or, what I like to refer to as “junk thought”, causes needless suffering and keeps us from living well. It is estimated that a person has about 40,000 thoughts per day. How much is junk?Junk thought comes in many forms. It appears as self-battering and self-bashing. It comes disguised as ‘objective thinking’ designed to mask our anxieties, doubts and fears. It comes as bravado, stubbornness and rage.

The thoughts that are hampering and hindering us sound so innocent! The reason they sound so innocent is that we ourselves have made them that way so that we won’t notice what’s really going on.

I don’t…

I can’t…

I’m not…

They have become “habits of mind”. They extend back to our childhoods. They grow and spread through our nervous systems, over our lifetime, fashioned by relationships, experiences, victories, disappointments. 

They are the mainstream of our mind patterns, and the challenge is to cut a tributary off this mainstream.

You can use the following three-step procedure to help re-program your thinking, and banish junk thought. 

First, identify those thoughts not serving you.This means growing aware of your linguistic tricks and understanding what your self-talk actually signifies. Sometimes personal counseling or coaching helps this step along.

Second, dispute those self-sabotaging thoughts.Our self-statements are often dodges, games, excuses, and defensive maneuvers, and it takes practice and courage to see them for what they are. You say – silently or out loud – “No, I don’t buy that!” 

Third, substitute new, useful thought.These thoughts can take the form of an affirmation. Affirmations can serve as substitutes for our characteristically negative junk-talk.

Let’s play out the steps in three brief scenarios.

Scene 1 

Junk thought: “I can’t possibly write before breakfast; my rumbling stomach would distract me.”

Dispute: “Wow, what a wonderful excuse!”

New thought: “I can write any time – morning, noon or night.”

Scene 2

Junk thought: “I don’t have the data analytics skills for this opportunity.”

Dispute: “I just haven’t been willing to put in the practice.“

New thought: “As hard as it is, putting in just an hour a day practice will help me get closer to this opportunity.”

Scene 3

Junk thought: “I’m not sure I can handle the interview for this position.”

Dispute: “You just haven’t rehearsed enough”

New thought: “I’ll contact a friend and do some mock interviews to get become ready.”

It can really be that simple. What you’re doing in these situations is re-programmingyour thinking with new possibilities. As Joseph Chilton Pearce wrote, “We live in a web of ideas, a fabric of our own making.” Making.See this as a new chance to make, to create.

The energy we put into our inner thoughts affects the outer life we see and achieve. Call it “intention”, “visualization”, or “the law of attraction” – it all adds up to actively using your imagination to fight off the junk and compose the kind of life you desire.

Peter Spellman is a career transition specialist helping people discover and develop their next calling. Find him at nextcalling.org.