You are what you think

You are what you think . . . and I think I’m useless!

image of cartoon thinking

How’s that working out for me?

What we think and do; we become.

You are probably familiar with the phrase “You are what you eat“, but what about “You are what you think?”  Is there any truth in that phrase?  More than you might realize.

What we think, and what we do, shapes our brain.

“I’m useless?” and  “other people are better than me.” These might be thoughts in my head, but will they affect my everyday life?  Will they shape my brain until I become what I think?  Read on to find out.

These thoughts would affect simple things like preparing dinner for friends and family.  I would be worried that it was not good enough and that someone else would do it better – as I’m useless and others are better. The fact that the dinner was great and that my family and friends loved it does not matter.  All that matters is what I think about it in my head.  You know, with the conversations that we all have with ourselves, inside our head.  The running commentary that we have on our own lives on everything that we do?

The reality of the situation – the dinner – is that everyone liked it, as they said so.  They said it was delicious.  But inside my head, it was not good enough.  They were saying that to be polite, or maybe they were making fun of me?  Thoughts such as these would make more sense inside my head if I believed that I was useless, as compliments would not fit my version of events.

If I did not get a job I interviewed for, I would not see that I had all the necessary skills and experience to be called for an interview.  I would think it was “typical” of me, as I’m useless and the person that got the job was better than me.

What we think and do, shapes our brain.  What does this mean exactly?

Our brain has little pockets of knowledge about almost everything that we do.  If you meet someone, you do not have to stop and think about how to interact.  You say “Hello” and can walk and talk simultaneously, as your brain has a pocket of knowledge on how to do this.  This makes sense when we think about it.

If I gave you a strange-looking object and told you that it was food, you probably would not pop it into your mouth straight away.  You would want to look at it, maybe even smell it.  Your brain would be frantically searching its store of images to see if it matches up with anything that looks like food.  If it did not match anything, you would probably want to see me eat it first before you even considered putting it in your own mouth.

It would not make sense if we had to bring this high level of analysis into everything we do.  Imagine going to work every day, having to analyze everything you did and everyone you met.  We can do most things without thinking too much about it, as we have a “pocket of knowledge” about it.

You are what you think.

Back to I’m useless, and everyone is better than me.  This is the pocket of knowledge that I hold about myself to help me, so I do not have to analyze every situation and conversation that I am in.  These are my default assumptions that I rely on to help me interact in my daily life.  They helped me out as best they could with the dinner I cooked.  I say helped in that they guided my interpretation of the events.  It helped me think that friends and family were just polite when they complimented me.  Our brain helps us out and makes a quick analysis for us not to have to.  Please ensure that our defaults are helpful.

Would it not have been much easier if my default, my pocket of knowledge about myself, was

  • I’m ok; I’m good enough, and
  • everyone else is ok too.

This would have made it easy for me to cook the dinner, as I thought I was doing ok.  It would have made sense to me then when people said the dinner was delicious, as this would fit with my view of myself and others – I’m ok, and others are ok.

Are you beginning to see that we are what we think?

Our thought processes can be responsible for many things in our lives that are unpleasant.  Believe it or not, our thoughts can make us anxious or depressed!  The treatment for anxiety and depression usually involves changing thought processes and viewing ourselves as we really are what we think.

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