Posted by on June 11, 2020

Recently, I was out bike riding on a beautiful Saturday morning.  I was feeling free as a bird and started to get a bit cocky.  With my newfound confidence, I did something, that upon reflection perhaps was not the wisest move, as my bike slipped out from under me and I fell hard, breaking two ribs.

This may seem like a non-sequitur, but I sneeze every morning.  It’s been like that for years.  I bring it up because a very interesting thing happened after the accident.   I didn’t sneeze for 10 days!  I was really afraid of the explosive pain that would ensue… and I simply did not sneeze until I was healed enough so the pain was manageable.  It wasn’t conscious.  I didn’t say, I’m not going to sneeze and yet, that’s what happened.

It struck me as simply remarkable that there was a power within me that literally (unconsciously) ruled my reflexes in a way to avoid pain. (I am happy to say that after 3 ½ weeks, I’m back on the bike – although minus the acrobatics!)  In this particular case my subconscious thinking helped me, but more often, our subconscious minds rule us in ways that don’t typically help.

It is estimated that humans have around 65,000 thoughts a day which translates to about a thought a second.  And for most of those seconds our minds are engaged in default thinking.  Default thinking?  That’s the limited thinking about yourself you learned as a child.  Were you taught nothing was impossible or everything is impossible?  Did you learn that you should always try or were you taught not to bother trying because you’ll never be able to do whatever it was you wanted to do anyway?  Were you encouraged or discouraged from pursuing your dreams?  These are some of the differences in parental attitudes that form and shape us.  Added to their influence are the early experiences of family, friends and school.  These combined experiences formed our beliefs about our abilities, our worthiness and our ability to love and be loved.

It gets even more interesting when you consider that 70% of human thoughts are negative and 95% of them are the same thoughts we were thinking yesterday1. You know that constant chatter in your head?  Well, if you can recognized that you’re enmeshed in negative, self-critical and/or self-doubting behavior, know that you are normal!  Knowing this is so important to being able to shift yourself into more intentional, deliberate, positive thinking.  And it is intentional, deliberate thinking that is responsible for a greater feeling of well-being. And fostering a feeling of well-being makes it easier to navigate through these precarious and changing times.

Be a Savvy Senior!  Recognize when you are thinking a negative thought.  Observe it.  You can even marvel at its persistence.  Then… let it go.  Send it back to the native nothingness from which it came and replace it with a thought that makes you smile.  Whether something true or a fantasy you enjoy, it doesn’t matter.  It only matters that the thoughts you think bring happy thoughts with them.  With each positive thought, you are making a deposit in your emotional bank account that will result in your having greater resiliency.

  1. Psychology Today, How Negative is Your ‘Mental Chatter’?
    Raj Raghunathan Ph.D.

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