A Thought Can Be Changed

“The only thing we are ever dealing with is a thought, and a thought can be changed.” ~ Louise Hay

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

paperclip in a shape of a light bulb and a rubber eraser in a shape of a brain
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People have a tendency to believe that their thoughts are facts, even though getting distance from the thought can reveal a different conclusion. Have you ever been hiking in the woods and noticed something up ahead that you thought was a snake? Did it ever turn out not to be a snake, but instead you found a crooked stick? These things happen all of the time. I think that my glasses are on my desk, but find them on the piano. I’m at the grocery and I think that I have chicken in the freezer, so I don’t buy any. Then, I get home and find out that there isn’t chicken in the freezer. In each of these examples, I believed my thoughts to be factual.

When this type of thinking happens about things outside of ourselves most of us are able to update our thought patterns with the new information. That doesn’t seem to be particularly true if the thinking is about ourselves. We hold onto those thoughts very rigidly, and are often aware that we are doing it. That awareness isn’t enough to cause us to chose a new, more accurate thought.

Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life

In his book, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life, Dr. Wayne Dyer describes this from the vantage point of the Tao Te Ching. He notes that the Tao Te Ching describes a way of living that is “balanced, moral, spiritual; and that works for all facets of life on Earth,” but it requires us to change our thoughts and our habitual way of thinking. Dr. Dyer’s book incudes all 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching as well as 81 essays about their meaning.

Get Out of Your Thoughts & Into Your Mind

Steven C. Hayes, in his book Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life, also describes how our inability to distance ourselves from our habitual ways of thinking creates emotional pain and suffering. As verbal creatures, humans are always surrounding or “swimming” in our thoughts. We don’t regularly take the time to think about them in a rational manner. This book walks you through some of the brain science, offers memorable examples (for instance The Virtues of Saliva on page 56), and offers some exercises or methods for changing the way you think as well as the arbitrary connections we often make between our thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

portrait photo of woman in red top wearing black framed eyeglasses standing in front of white background thinking
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I see the solution as falling into the same category as a social mantra I grew up with “question everything!” You might see it as “don’t jump to conclusions.” In either case, we need to take a step back, consider the facts, acknowledge our emotions. But, we do not need to let them rule our thoughts. This is not always easy. Currently, we are being bombarded with messages that our emotions are of primary importance. Don’t buy the messaging! Question everything…even our thoughts.