How Our Thoughts Sabotage Our Health
My actions are my only true belonging: I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.
– The Buddha (c. 500 BC), India
Indigenous cultures understand that a human being’s thoughts, intentions, and dreams don’t just influence but also control that person’s health and quality of life. The biggest challenge is that individuals feel powerless to make their own decisions and end up focusing their thoughts on negative outcomes.
Every time we have a thought, whether it is positive or negative, we have started—or kept—a ball rolling in one direction or another. Repeated negative thoughts about how difficult work is, for example, will keep you in a work-is-bad state of mind, squeezing out possibilities for change. Holding a positive outlook, on the other hand, will help to create the conditions for achieving whatever goal you’re pursuing.
Unfortunately, Western cultures have had little training in how to change undesirable conditions into more desirable ones using the power of thought control and the knowledge of how energy works. We are aware enough to know that when we exert too much physical energy we become tired and drained. We notice as well that certain activities deplete us more than others, whether it’s a trip to the shopping mall or a lengthy business meeting.
Much of the time, though, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are out of sync with each other, and imbalance occurs. For example, we may want more abundance, but if we carry a deep belief that we don’t really deserve it, then it will be difficult to manifest that reality. Negative emotions and mindsets such as anger, guilt, shame, unworthiness, low self-esteem, or resentment prevent us from moving toward more positive outcomes in life. If we want to change our work, our lives, and ultimately our world, we need to change what we spend our energy thinking about.
Pay Attention to Your Intentions
We’ve all had the experience of making decisions and taking actions that later turned out to be the wrong choice relative to a particular goal or desire. When this happens, we are usually confused because we thought we were doing the right thing. The truth is that at such times, we aren’t that clear about our intentions and may not even know what our real intentions are. An individual without clear intentions is like a rudderless boat. Sometimes our intentions are connected to unconscious motivations that we aren’t aware of. In a relationship, for example, we may intend to be supportive and loving, but lurking underneath and over-riding that intention may be a desire to always be right and to have it our way. In another example, we may intend to make more money, but at a deeper level we believe that people who make money are crooks or don’t deserve the money they do make—a clear impediment to manifesting those goals.
Lynne McTaggart’s book The Intention Experiment explores the findings of leading scientists from around the world. Her research on the power of thought and how thoughts can affect physical reality reveal that the universe is connected by a vast quantum energy field. “This evidence suggests that human thoughts and intentions are an actual physical ‘something’ with the astonishing power to change our world.” She suggests that we can use this energy to improve our lives, both on an individual basis and as a group, and that we need to pay better attention to our thoughts, intentions and actions.
Changing these patterns is a challenge, but people do it all the time. In Living in Balance: A Dynamic Approach for Creating Harmony and Wholeness in a Chaotic World, authors Joel and Michelle Levey draw from the wisdom of the indigenous peoples for advice on keeping focused and intentional on a daily basis:
The elders of the Seneca Nation traditionally encouraged their people to reflect on four essential questions to determine if they were living in balance with their world. As you read each of these four questions, pause to reflect and honestly answer each one:
- Are you happy living how you are living and doing what you are doing?
- Is what you are doing adding to the confusion?
- What are you doing to further peace and contentment in your own life and in the world?
- How will you be remembered after you are gone—either in absence or in death?
Incorporating a daily review of your intentions into your schedule, even for just 15 or 20 minutes (ideally at the same time each day), will provide the foundation and centering necessary to begin making real changes in your life. When you passionately focus on your intentions in this way, you start tapping into your personal power. Once you commit to a new and positive direction, unforeseen events will occur to support you in your new endeavors.
So consider this: If you were to ask yourself one question that would help you stay focused and on track on a daily basis, what would it be?
Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought . . . . Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet, and they are continually killing thousands of people just as surely though less rapidly.
– James Allen, As a Man Thinketh