Thought Mastery Introduction

You are useless


What feelings and thoughts did that three letter sentence trigger inside of you? Did you get an uncomfortable feeling in your body, did you notice any tension? Are you feeling numb? Did it trigger a cascade of other unpleasant thoughts about you or the course? Did it ‘rattle your cage’ or are you feeling perfectly happy and at peace?


This exercise might not have been a particularly pleasant way to start this module, but I wanted to demonstrate to you one of the most important formulas for unhappiness and happiness


Believing / engaging any negative thought, word or image = unhappiness


Not believing / not engaging a negative thought, word or image = happiness


You Choose Happiness


In any given moment you are choosing your level of happiness by how you relate to what you are thinking. If you believe your thoughts and are fused (at one with them), then that thought will determine how you feel. If it’s a positive life enhancing thought, such as ‘isn’t life great!,’ it will trigger positive feelings, you will feel good. If however the thought is ‘I am useless’ and you are fused to it, they are going to trigger unpleasant feelings within you. When you are fused to your thoughts you are at their mercy, they have control and power over you! You become a victim of your own thinking. By not allowing your thoughts to hold you to ransom and by changing your relationship to your thoughts from one that is adversarial to one that is accepting and light-hearted you transform the way you feel – often quickly.


Thoughts are not reality


This is a problem and a great source of unnecessary suffering to millions of people because most thoughts do not accurately reflect reality. In fact the majority of thoughts that you have originate from past experiences and therefore are nothing more, and nothing less than distortions of present moment reality. Put another way most thoughts are tainted with the past and distortions of the truth. What’s more thoughts are not powerful, although they appear to be powerful. Their power is related to the degree that we attach to them and infuse them with our attention, belief and emotion. It’s us, for better or for worse make thoughts powerful. Being controlled by thoughts is therefore an illusion, what really is happening is that we are giving our power to the thought. If that was bad enough, your thoughts are not supposed to be attached to. They are simply impersonal sparks of information and perspective flying through your awareness that you can choose to engage with if you wish. The key word is choose.  In any given moment you have the ability (with a little bit of training) to select and choose which thoughts you attach to and believe. If they are positive or useful – great stay attached, if not let go of them. However given that most thoughts are not reality, I tell my clients that one of the most important things they can do, in each and every moment, and to know happiness, is to not believe the negative story or thoughts being created by their mind. Why? Because true happiness is experienced as you rest in the awareness position, the state of mind that enables you to watch your negative thoughts.


Awareness = Wisdom & Happiness


One thing that becomes very clear as you start to disengage negative thinking is that you are not your thoughts but the awareness within which thoughts arise. Why is this important? When you pull your attention away from thoughts and let them be as they are, your attention now becomes available to experience the essence of that awareness, which is happiness and peace. What’s more awareness is intelligent wisdom and it is able to communicate to you through intuition and direct inner knowing. Have you ever just known something? For example that someone was about to call you, or that something was about to happen? That’s inner knowing and it tends to happen when we are disengaged with our thinking. Many people have found that their creative insight and solutions to complex problems come about, not whilst thinking about the problem, but when their attention is involved in something unrelated


Don’t always think through your problems!


This instruction might sound strange given that we are often taught to use our head and thinking to solve problems. Whilst thinking about things does have its place an alternative way approach is not to consult your thoughts about them, but to disengage the thoughts about the issue. By doing so you open yourself up to receiving intuitive insight, by not making yourself find a solution, often a solution, or some insight will reveal itself. A simple strategy for doing this is to change the nature of the question that you ask yourself anytime you have what you perceive to be a problem. Rather than saying ‘what shall I do…’, or ‘how can I …’ For example - rather than asking yourself the question, ‘what do me and partner need to do to work in order to work through our relationships issues?’, and then trying to think of an answer, replace it with ‘I wonder how we can create a healthy, fun, loving relationship?’ This time don’t consult the mind, just notice how any feelings of tension and unhappiness have or are dissolving and how much relaxation and peace you can now feel in your body. Remember don’t search for an answer, just allow yourself to receive an insight or guidance from your inner wisdom. If one isn’t coming, leave this and return to the question when it feels right to do so. One will come!


How thoughts relate to your feelings


For quite some time, it’s been in vogue to use the phrase ‘thoughts create our feelings’ or ‘feelings follow thoughts’. In fact this isn’t true. Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell two psychologists developed a model, the APET model that helped to explain the relationship between thoughts and feelings. I think its important and very helpful to understand it because it makes sense of  why so many of us get stuck in a vicious cycle of thinking and feeling and how this keeps us out of touch with our natural state of inner joy and peace. I have modified the model slightly, but I would encourage you to refer to their original work to explore it in greater depth if you wish. I call this the unhappiness cycle


The Unhappiness Cycle


Most of us spend our time recycling ourselves around The Unhappiness Cycle. The Unhappiness Cycle is a self-perpetuating cycle within which our apparent choices and decisions originate from and are distorted by our past experiences and by our self-limiting beliefs. Most people are trapped in the cycle without realising it. There are four components to the unhappiness cycle


1. Trigger – this refers to the thought you are having or the situation, circumstance or event outside of you. It’s whatever gets your attention.

2. Pattern-Match – the event, situation or thought is then cross-referenced against similar past events to compare it with. It is as if we ask ourselves "does this match to something I am currently expecting to happen or to some previous experience?” Most commonly it’s compared to the memory of an experience from the past – embedded within which is a self-limiting belief (such as ‘I am not good enough’) and the residual (unfelt) emotional charge relating to that belief.

3. Emotion – if a situation triggers a memory of something similar that happened in the past the emotions tagged to this old memory/memories will arise in the body as feelings and sensations. For example you might feel anxious and notice tension in your solar plexus area. The clue that the emotionally charge is more to with the past than the present is that your emotional response is disproportionately strong for the situation.

4. Reaction – this is what automatically happens in response to your feelings, in order to change what you are feeling. For example you might start getting negative thoughts (thoughts therefore come after feelings), start arguing back, emotionally shut-down, start eating a chocolate bar or take your stress out on someone or something related. The new thoughts, now act like triggers and start the cycle again.


At first glance this might seem a little complicated, but I would really encourage you to read through it a couple of times in order to really get it. You can see that unless there is an intervention at anyone of the four levels, the system is effectively on auto-pilot, there is no conscious decision making in their at all!


How to Exit the Unhappiness Cycle


The Unhappiness Cycle whilst explaining how we can get stuck in unhappiness and emotional immature behaviour, also reveal how to get out of the cycle into happiness.  The first thing I taught Marjorie was to notice anytime she was unhappy and to say to herself ‘I am stuck in a unhappiness cycle.’ Next I taught her how to defuse from her distressing thought (the trigger), which you will learn about in a moment. By looking at the diagram you can see that by doing this stage 2 doesn’t get activated. The cycle is broken. We also did some work on her beliefs and used a process called conscious regression (see transform your limiting beliefs) to stop the transference of her anger relating to her father onto her husband.


The Five Thought Mastery Tools


Now start to explore and use each of the tools below


Defuse Your Negative Thoughts

Investigate Your Thinking

Transform Your Limiting Beliefs

Practise Mindfulness

Enter Flow





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