Shifting Into High Gear: How to Create Patterns of Thought That Lift You Up
Welcome to what has evolved into the third in a three-part series of posts about how to harness the creative power of the NOW to create more of what you want in your life, regardless of how long you may have experienced unwanted feelings or conditions.
In January I wrote about the confining perspective of time as linear. We think of our past as feeding into our present and our present as feeding into our future, in one continuous stream, and we conclude that the longer something has been a part of our lives, the more likely it is to stay there.
What I wanted to convey in that article is that linear time is a construct of our minds which has no inherent power or momentum of its own; our true creative power exists always in the spacious NOW. So regardless of how long, in terms of time, you may have experienced something unwanted, it can still be changed once you recognize your power to do so by opening your heart and allowing it to shift the way you think.
In last month’s post I explained that, while time has no inherent power or momentum, the vibrational nature of thought does. And the more momentum a given pattern of thought has, the more difficult it seems to shift it. My primary aim in writing that article was to help you be kind to yourself if you’ve tried shifting a habitual thought pattern but found it difficult to do so.
Once you understand the dynamic of momentum, you can relieve yourself of all judgment that there must be something wrong with you if you haven’t yet been successful. You simply need to learn a new skill, based on this new understanding.
This month, I want to offer a further perspective on how to shift a thought pattern that has a fair amount of momentum. Let me say up front that I’ll be sharing information about the vibrational nature of thought in what I hope is a clear and neutral way. It may even seem a bit clinical! Yet once again my reason for doing so is to help relieve you of any self-judgment by offering enough information to make it clear that self-blame has no place here.
So let’s get started.
Part of the difficulty in shifting from unhelpful thought patterns to helpful ones arises because we don’t fully understand the implications of thoughts AS vibrations. We tend to think of them as discrete “things” that can be discarded or replaced, which is why we often use words such as “eliminate” and “change” to describe the shift we want to make with our thoughts.
What is often misunderstood is that the change we need to make is not of the thought itself, but of our focus on it.
Our focus on a thought activates it in our personal experience, and by “focus” I don’t only mean our in-the-moment, conscious attention to it. I also mean our ongoing acceptance of something as true, whether we’re currently thinking about it or not.
For example, if I have accepted as true a belief in my unworthiness, my acceptance of it has stabilized its vibration in my energy field. So even if I’m not consciously thinking, “I am unworthy” every day, my belief in the truth of that thought keeps it vibrating in my personal experience.
Beliefs are thoughts we have accepted as true, and in our acceptance of them they remain vibrationally active in our energy fields.
So one attribute of the vibrational nature of thought is that it is activated in our personal experience by our focus on it, or our acceptance of it as true.
Another attribute of the vibrational nature of thought is what I think of as the dual attribute of continuity and general availability: every thought that has ever been focused on continues to vibrate in the general field of human consciousness. Thoughts are manifestations which, in a sense, have a life of their own. They attract like vibrations to them which further strengthens and stabilizes them in mass consciousness.
So here we are, vibrational beings in a vibrational universe, with an almost unfathomable plethora of thoughts from which to choose – meaning to focus on or to accept – to create our own personal experience. Thoughts that many people have focused on have a very stable momentum, which makes it easier for others to tune into them if their own thoughts are already inclined in that vibrational direction.
For example, a belief in being unworthy is one that many people have accepted and continue to accept, so it has a fairly strong momentum in human consciousness. If you were to experience a couple of frustrating things that led you to doubt or criticize yourself, you’d be in vibrational range of the “I am unworthy” thoughtform. In the absence of your conscious choice to open your heart and focus on thoughts of support and encouragement, its vibrational strength could pull you even further down into self-condemnation.
Are you still with me? I hope you’re getting a feel for the continuity and general availability of thought vibrations, and how your focus on them activates them in your personal experience.
Now let’s go back to the process of shifting from one thought pattern to another, and we’ll use the example of “I am unworthy” as the thought you no longer want to accept as true. You may recall that, in last month’s post, I said that there are two common responses people have to unhelpful thoughts: either they attempt to paste over them with helpful ones or they actively engage with them in some way – usually through analysis – neither of which are effective.
Let’s look at the “paste-over” first. Regular readers of my blog will probably recognize this term I’ve coined because I’ve written about it before, but hopefully within the context of thoughts as vibrations it will be even more clear. In the paste-over scenario there is a recognition that the thought “I am unworthy” is untrue and tremendously unhelpful, and also a corresponding concern or fear that if the thought continues, unwanted things will happen.
So there’s an urgency about “getting rid of it” (which actually can’t be done in a vibrational universe where every thought that has ever been thought is still vibrating), and the person with the thought quickly comes up with another thought in an attempt to obliterate the damaging one, and focuses strenuously on it.
The new thought might directly counter the damaging one, such as, “I AM worthy!” or it might be a little softer, such as, “I choose to believe I’m worthy.” Either of these, or many other alternative thoughts, could be helpful in redirecting focus toward something self-loving and supportive. What makes them unhelpful paste-overs, though, is that underlying urgency I mentioned.
Have you ever felt that? Have you ever caught yourself entertaining self-diminishing thoughts, then remembered that the way you think creates the kinds of experiences you have, and then became worried about what you were in the process of creating? You may have wanted to stop those thoughts immediately and felt almost anxious to do so.
If you’ve had that experience (and trust me, you’re not alone if you have), what you may not have fully realized is that you were letting yourself become afraid of your own thoughts! Fear is certainly not the foundation of the kind of life you want to live.
That sense of urgency usually reflects either a fear that you’re kidding yourself and you really aren’t worthy, or a fear that you’re somehow wrong for still thinking a thought that isn’t helpful but you can’t seem to stop it, or both. Either way, fear is the dominant vibration and so the new thought isn’t fully accepted.
I’m sure many of you have recognized this dynamic, and so you may have moved on to the other common response to unhelpful thoughts: you pause to analyze them. You may ask yourself questions such as, “Where did this belief come from?“ or “Why am I still thinking this?” (Or even worse, “What’s wrong with me that I’m still thinking this?”)
To a certain extent this approach is helpful in that you probably recognize you can’t simply paste over an unhelpful thought with another you don’t really believe is true. Yet beyond that recognition, the temptation to analyze beliefs and “get to the bottom of them” keeps you focused on them, and focusing on them keeps them active.
I’ve worked with clients who, in their analyses, actually came up with justifications either for why the damaging belief is actually true, or why it’s so entrenched they just have to live with it. The latter is particularly easy to conclude when you’re aware that you’ve believed something for a long time, because you may think the length of time itself has locked it into your psyche.
Remember that there is no power or momentum in the illusion of linear time; all creative power exists NOW. (You may want to reread my January column, Welcome to Your Spacious NOW, to support you in this!) And remember, too, that focusing on a thought keeps it active.
So where does that leave you? It leaves you with something that, on the surface, looks quite a lot like both of these responses combined. (I know, that’s crazy, right??) It looks like analyzing your beliefs and then creating new ones to replace the ones you’ve analyzed. But that’s not what it is at all. Stay with me here.
There’s a big difference between the detailed analysis of a belief which arises from an underlying judgment of the belief as bad, wrong or scary, and reflecting thoughtfully on the nature of beliefs and how they shape your reality in order to gain a deeper understanding of how this vibrational universe works.
You serve yourself well by taking some quality time to reflect on some of your familiar thought patterns and recognize how they show up in your life as experiences. In the absence of that, you would have no reason or desire to change them. But once you have an understanding of the dynamics, you’re ready to move into the process of shifting your unhelpful thought patterns. No further analysis is required or helpful.
And now we know that, due to the vibrational nature of thought, the process of shifting thought patterns is a process of shifting focus. You can’t eliminate unhelpful thoughts the way you can toss something you no longer want in the trash can, but you can de-activate them in your experience by consciously choosing to cultivate thoughts and perspectives that ARE loving and helpful.
Once again, periods of contemplation are essential here. You want to give yourself some quality time to connect with your inner Self and discover, to the best of your current ability, what I call the deeper truth of who you are.
In contemplation, journaling, meditation or prayer…in communion with nature or with someone you love…in any moment of feeling deeply at peace, you can sense your innate worthiness to be loved and happy. And even if you can’t quite reach that place, your willingness to believe it’s true can carry you far.
Genuinely intend to cultivate a perspective that you are innately, always and already worthy of living a deeply fulfilled life. The more you reflect on and practice that perspective, the more real and true it becomes for you. Then, in any given moment that the familiar “I am unworthy” thought pattern is activated, you can remind yourself of the deeper truth of who you really are, rather than try to convince yourself of it.
You can pause, take a deep breath, and anchor into something such as, “I am always and already worthy of every happiness.”
And it won’t be a paste-over, because you’ve taken the time to discover and sense the truth of it.
With this approach you’re not analyzing unhelpful thoughts and then pasting over them with helpful ones out of fear that something bad will happen if you don’t. You’re cultivating a genuine understanding that the unhelpful thoughts aren’t true, and choosing – out of love – to focus on the deeper truth of your worthiness, so that you can experience the joy of your worthiness through your physical life.
As I’ve said in previous articles, this kind of intentional – and intentionally loving – shift in focus takes some practice. I want you to be committed to the practice, but not in a heavy or rigid way. After all, what you’re essentially practicing is loving yourself into a better-feeling life, and that’s something to feel happy and excited about!
Still, you may experience feelings of discouragement or frustration if the process seems to be taking “too long” and the unwanted thoughts and experiences are still showing up. That’s why I wrote these articles – to help you understand why that may be happening so you don’t turn those experiences into another reason to judge yourself.
Do your best to breathe through your uncomfortable feelings and keep returning, again and again, to the most loving perspective you can hold. And keep giving yourself periods of quality time and space to cultivate an even more loving, expansive perspective of who you are and what’s possible for you to create and experience.
As you do these things you create momentum in the direction you want to go, until the new thought pattern is strong and stable enough to be reflected back to you as a more fulfilling and happy life.
Decide that you are worthy of your own time, support and respect. Allow your heart of hearts to show your mind the magnificent truth of who you are.
And remember always that you matter.
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