Sure, you’ve heard the mottos, proverbs, and sayings. Stuff like “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re right.” Well, truth be told, there really is something to this. Positive thinking is a real thing! But what is a thought? How about this for an explanation: a thought is information that can provide instruction to your body, to your brain, and create your mood and your feelings. If you have a thought that says you are in danger, real or imagined, your body does the most amazing things to protect itself. Hormones flood your system, blood is diverted from one place to another, pupils dilate, heart rate increases, and so much more.
Feeling happy? More hormones from our own chemical factories flood our body. We are awesome. And for these types of events, we are on autopilot. Good thing too because what goes on is so much more complicated than we mere mortals are capable of understanding or creating. But autopilot sometimes comes into play because we have programmed ourselves by doing something repeatedly. A habit puts us on autopilot. A habit happens by repetition, repetition, repetition. It does not matter if the habit is taking drugs, biting our nails, playing a song on the piano; do it enough, and it goes into our autopilot. When we are on autopilot, no thought is required. We just do what we have done, thoughtlessly.
Thoughts are powerful, and not a whole lot of our thoughts have been input by ourselves. Maybe parents, teachers, friends, a movie—you get the idea. What would happen if you started to think about how you think?
Think about that. Have you ever considered that not everything you think is true? Have you spent much time putting positive thought into your mind? Have you ever considered that a thought is not a command? Do you know you can program yourself? Yes, you are programmable! You can actually put a thought in your head on purpose, and no one can take that thought away if you want to keep it. And a thought cannot make you do anything or dictate how you will react.
You have two minds: the conscious and the subconscious. One is on 24-7; one goes to sleep for several or more hours a night. The one that is on all the time does a lot of work mostly on autopilot. You know, things like breathing, digesting, dreaming, and way too much to talk about here, but you get the idea. Once you repeat and repeat, that repeated something gets into your subconscious, and it goes on autopilot along with everything else. The subconscious, which I call the tape recorder because that is what it is, puts you on autopilot. It is a big time-saver. You do not have to figure things out from scratch. Something comes along that pushes the play button, and the old tape starts to play. This is the autopilot to which I refer.
The play button can get pushed by any memory or action. Even a song or an odor can get the tape recorder to start playing, and there you go—on autopilot. Cravings, urges, behaviors, reactions—all recorded, played back over and over.
There are always random thoughts that flow in and out of our minds that we all experience. I want to focus on the thoughts that have value and the critical value of purposefully creating a new thought habit. Again, a habit is the act of repetition, and repetition is what puts us on autopilot. And autopilot can rob us of choice. Pay attention now; this is one big concept: regaining choice so that choice can help you to control cravings because you can choose not to use. Just like there is conditioned behavior, like that of Pavlov’s dogs, I believe there is also conditioned thinking.
I have had to point out to many addicts how their own unhealthy thought repetitions have brainwashed them into expecting failure. When I hear an addict say “I cannot imagine living without heroin,” well now, guess what? Keep saying that, repeating that out loud or silently, keep reinforcing that into your “tape recorder,” and you will not be able to imagine living without heroin. Simple, if you cannot imagine living without heroin, you will live with heroin. Programming.
So simple. So tough.
Most of the time, your addicted self is on autopilot. Crave and use. Crave and use. Thoughtless. Autopilot. Here’s an astounding realization for you: a thought is not a command.
That’s right. A thought is not a command.
Realize that autopilot is helpful to us in many ways. We would be paralyzed if we had to make a conscious decision about everything. So yes, mostly it is good. Not so, my friend, if you are on autopilot about your next fix or hit.
So stop here for just a moment. How much of what is on autopilot is not good for you?
Can you see how thinking about how you think is crucial? Can you just imagine for a moment what life could be like if you could choose?
Sure you can. Do it; imagine!
Make a promise to yourself to think about your thoughts. Whenever you notice a negative thought, remind yourself that you can only have one thought at a time. That’s right! Only one thought at a time. So replace that thought immediately with another thought. A positive thought. And remember, you can change your thoughts. You can distract your thinking. Call a friend. Walk your dog. You don’t have a dog? Get a dog! Watch a movie . . . cook a meal . . . take a shower. You can do this. Make it a habit, Practice. Try. Do it. Repeat. A habit is formed by repetition. This is war for your life. Fight. Win. You can. Of course you can. And best of all, you do not have to do it alone.
We live the effects of our thinking. So speak well to yourself because something inside is always listening.