Understanding the Momentum of Thought
Years ago, I knew someone who would often say, after having experienced something unwanted in his life, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” His comment would usually elicit a chuckle or two from whomever was listening, which of course encouraged him to keep saying it. I can distinctly remember thinking it was quite funny and laughing at it myself.
That was before I understood, as I do now, the very real and very potent power of our beliefs, thoughts and words to create our personal reality, especially ones that are repeated often. In this particular friend’s case, as is true for many people who make self-deprecating comments, he viewed his bad luck as something he’d always experienced and therefore always would; in other words, he assumed that his past was feeding into his present and his present was feeding into his future, and that he could do little to change it. He assumed there was power in the seemingly continuous progression of linear time.
Yet our true creative power, which was the subject of last month’s blog post (Welcome to Your Spacious NOW), is always NOW. Regardless of what we’ve experienced in the past, we can create fresh experiences, starting now, as we cultivate new perspectives and begin entertaining different thoughts.
Here’s how I described it in last month’s post, using the example of wanting to experience greater financial abundance:
“So you begin to consciously change the focus and direction of your thoughts away from lack and toward abundance, moment to moment. With practice, you get better and better. The new thoughts start to feel familiar, which means they’re gaining strength and stability. As they reach the level of expectation, their vibration is strong and stable enough to begin drawing more abundant outcomes from the spacious NOW into your lived experience.
Does this practice of shifting beliefs and thoughts “take time”? Yes, within the framework of linear time that we’re in, it does. But the amount of time it takes has nothing to do with time itself, and everything to do with the strength and stability of the vibration you wish to hold in any moment.
I’ll be the first to admit that changing the focus and direction of thoughts away from a current, unwanted experience toward one that’s desirable isn’t something that initially comes easily to most of us…”
Does that last statement ring true for you? If so, you’re not alone. You probably understand that a shift in thinking is required in order to create a shift in experience, yet you sometimes – often? – find it difficult to make that shift.
This was reflected back to me in a recent conversation I had with a dear friend, and our ensuing exchange on the subject became the prompt for this month’s post. She told me that she’d found herself saying something self-deprecating in a group meeting, as a way of bringing humor into the conversation, only to recognize later how badly that made her feel for several hours afterward.
This friend is very wise and highly self-aware, so it certainly wasn’t the first time she’d considered how her words were affecting her experience. In our conversation, though, she was reflecting on how difficult it seemed to change the direction of her thoughts, once she was “in” them.
I’m guessing you’ve probably had the same experience. Your mind goes down a rabbit hole of unhelpful thoughts, and you know you should just stop thinking them, already, but somehow you can’t.
So why IS it difficult to change the direction of your thoughts?
After all, you understand how the vibration of your thoughts creates the energetic framework for your lived experiences – in other words, you grasp that you’re literally creating your personal reality through the way you think – so shouldn’t you just be able to stop the thoughts that are diminishing and start new ones that are empowering?
The answer is no, and here – in one word – is the reason why: momentum.
Because of repeated engagement with the diminishing thoughts, they have momentum in your spacious NOW. Their vibration is strong and stable, and they can, in effect, draw your focus to them with relative ease. So even when you’re holding an intention to think differently, the powerful momentum of these familiar thoughts can pull your attention to them, instead.
The best analogy I have for this I can’t take credit for creating, but it’s one that has served me, and many of my clients and students, really well. It comes from Lola Jones, creator of Divine Openings. Here it is, in my words:
Think of your diminishing thoughts as the blades of a fan that’s running on the highest speed setting. Your intention to disengage from those thoughts is the equivalent of turning off the fan. So that’s what you do, yet the blades continue spinning at high speed for a little while, slowing down almost imperceptibly at first but then, finally, becoming still – as long as you don’t turn the fan back on again.
With respect to your diminishing thoughts, “turning the fan back on again” means engaging with them in any way, either by believing them to be true, debating their relative merits or trying strenuously to convince yourself they’re not true. (Remember, in the world of energy, what you focus on is what you activate, regardless of whether you like or dislike what you’re focused on.)
This means your job becomes to stop engaging with them and, instead, to see them for what they are – spinning blades that are slowing down, or thoughts you used to believe that you no longer want to believe – and then to take a deep breath and focus elsewhere.
And to keep practicing that in any moment you find your attention drawn to those familiar, yet unhelpful, thoughts.
This is, by the way, why meditation is such a helpful practice on a path of personal transformation, because as you meditate, you learn how to step back from your thoughts – you learn to let them pass without engaging them – and return your attention to your intended point of focus for the meditation.
So if you meditate regularly, you might find it helpful to think of this practice – the practice of not engaging with diminishing thoughts – as putting to good use, in your day-to-day life, the skill you’ve learned in meditation. It’s similar to the way doing biceps curls in the gym enables you to lift a heavier bag of groceries when you go shopping.
Analogies aside, this is all about engagement. The thoughts you engage with are thoughts that remain active, and the thoughts that are active are the ones drawing further thoughts and experiences to you of a matching vibration or quality.
And let’s be clear that engagement includes analysis. One of the traps I see many self-aware people fall into, including myself, is the tendency to ask, “Why am I still thinking this?” And as we wrestle with all of the possible reasons why, we’re engaging with – keeping active – the very thought we wish to let go of.
Another common response to unhelpful thoughts is what I call the pasteover – immediately trying to eliminate an unhelpful thought by putting a shiny, new, helpful thought on top of it – which is equally ineffective.
Next month I’ll delve more into the nuances of those dynamics and how to move through them. What I want to leave you with now is the need to be kind and compassionate with yourself as you make the shift from automatically engaging with diminishing perspectives to consciously embracing ones that are supportive and empowering.
Depending on how much momentum your current thoughts have, they may continue drawing your attention to them even though you’re intending a whole new way of thinking – and you’re not doing anything “wrong” if that happens.
Don’t use this as yet another reason to find fault with yourself.
Remember the fan. Let the momentum of the old thoughts decrease naturally as you simply acknowledge them for what they are, take a breath (or two or three), and then turn on a different fan. Anchor your focus into something loving, supportive, funny, uplifting – or even, simply, neutral. Just don’t turn the old fan back on.
And if you do? Just turn it back off again. You don’t need to be perfect at this, just…persistent. Lovingly, lightly and – if you can pull it off – laughingly persistent. A light touch creates much greater ease with all of this than a heavy-handed, overly serious focus.
Be kind to yourself, in this and in all things. You’re doing beautifully.
I welcome your comments! Your wisdom and insights are welcome in the space below.