Have you ever really thought about your reactions to things or what I refer to as your conditioned response? Or, do you just let your emotions and your feelings determine how you respond to something? What’s quite interesting is just how much your thoughts influence your reactions to events.
There are quite a few reasons for this. It’s a combination of past experiences, assumptions, and predictions, and a little bit of impulsivity. Let’s go over how each of these can influence your thoughts and your reactions in life.
Past Experiences Influence Your Thoughts
When it comes to developing your thoughts, one of the key influencers would be your past experiences. Your past experiences can include just about anything, like the parenting style used to raise you, your socioeconomic status, whether you experienced abuse, and traumatic events you may have witnessed firsthand.
These experiences help to shape who you are today.
Let’s say you grew up with verbally abusive parents and harbor resentment toward them and abusers in general. As an adult, you might find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re being bullied or ostracized for who you are. But the reaction you have might vary wildly.
There’s a possibility that you’ll withdraw and avoid these new people that make you think of your abusive parents. Or, you might stand up for yourself like you wish somebody would’ve done when you were a child.
Either way, there’s a pretty good chance your mind inadvertently went to thoughts you have about your past and your parents before formulating a response to this situation.
Assumptions & Predictions
When you develop your personality and your thought processes, you’ll also begin to build your assumptions and predictions based on things you’ve experienced without even knowing it. You might be able to analyze a situation and assume what will happen next.
These can greatly influence your reactions.
Let’s say you witnessed a traumatic car accident as a child and now have a lingering fear about cars and pedestrians.
As an adult, you may walk down a street and notice a car barreling towards a pedestrian in the road. Since your mind might automatically go back to the thoughts about that traumatic event from your childhood, your reaction will vary. Maybe you’ll jump out into the road to pull the pedestrian out of the way. Or, perhaps you’ll just run away in shock as history repeats itself.
But, these reminders from your past will influence how you react.
There’s also a pretty good possibility that you respond to things purely out of impulsivity. That means you come up with your feelings about an event rather quickly and act without even a second thought. In this case, you didn’t have an idea to reference.
It might encourage you to act when you usually wouldn’t.
Let’s say you witness a crime committed.
Instead of thinking about what you should do or whether or not you should call the police, you immediately jump in and attempt to apprehend the suspect. You didn’t have any thoughts here, only relying on your instincts to respond to the situation.
How Changing Your Thoughts Can Change Your Life
Have you ever considered what goes into actually developing your thoughts? Well, it’s quite a combination of factors. A lot of your beliefs have ties to experiences in your past—also, your unique personality and the people you surround yourself with play a huge role as well.
So, you might also be assuming that it’s impossible to change your thoughts since they’re so complicated. But, that’s not entirely true. Changing your thoughts has the potential to change your entire life. Let’s go over how.
Being Accepting of New Ideas
The way you think right now defines what you’re accepted. You might find it a little uncomfortable branching out and opening your mind to new ideas. That’s where changing your thoughts can be an absolute game-changer.
You can shift your thoughts toward a sense of openness.
Instead of shutting out the unknown like you’re used to doing, you can welcome it with open arms. By doing this, you can broaden your horizons and begin developing yourself as an individual. Rather than immediately forming a judgment when you hear or see something, you might take a step back and spend a little time analyzing the situation first.
Not only does this make you a more caring person, but you might even learn a little bit more about the diversity of the world.
Right now, your thoughts might have quite a negative focus. And, you might always anticipate the worst-case scenario and have low self-esteem as a result. It can be detrimental to your development as a person and your mental health in the long run.
You can shift your thoughts to build positivity.
Rather than let your natural thoughts flow as you usually do, try to focus more on the positive aspects of the event or situation. It can help to give you a brand new perspective and highlight the brighter side of just about everything. In the long run, this can make you happier and a more positive person.
For every bad situation that you face in your life, try to identify or point out at least one good thing that has come out of it.
Taking the Time to Think
When something happens, you have an immediate response that goes through your mind. Maybe you’re happy about it, perhaps you’re upset, or perhaps you’re just completely indifferent. But, there’s a go-to reaction depending on the situation.
You can delay your thoughts.
When you stop responding to situations out of pure impulsiveness, you give yourself just a little bit more time to think about a position as a whole. You can look at each minor detail and honestly think about how you feel about it. In the process, you also won’t act as impulsively, and you might even build a little empathy.
Give yourself some time to yourself after something significant happens to think about how you really feel and how you should respond instead of doing it immediately.
The reactions you have in life consist of a lot more than just the personality that you’ve developed. They’re formulated based on the thoughts you have regarding past experiences, assumptions, and a sense of impulsivity.
But that doesn’t mean that you must settle for familiar reactions. After all, there’s a lot that you can do right now to begin shifting your perspective and to gain a little empathy. So, take a moment to think about how you feel before responding to things in your life.
To change your life, you need to make changes within yourself. And, an excellent place to start is by changing the thoughts that you currently have. So, here are some neat ways that you can do that right now:
● Learn to build acceptance
● Generate positivity
● Think about a situation in entirety
Even though it’s uncomfortable to change your thoughts and who you are, it might just change your life for the better. So, try to implement these changes slowly first and build upon your new skills as time passes.