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If You Don’t Know What Your Next Thought Is, You’re Not Alone

If You Don’t Know What Your Next Thought Is, You’re Not Alone

I find it rather easy to get lost in thought. Although I do enjoy this journey through my mind, there are times where I must pull myself out of this excursion. I am reminded of this every time my 3-year old daughter asks me, “Daddy, are you here?” This question hits deep.

I am learning the importance of being present in the moment. One book I turn to for this is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Let’s take a look at what we can all learn from Tolle in his powerful book.

    Life is a series of present moments

    If I asked you where everything happens, what would you say? The answer should be quite simple – everything happens in the present moment.

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    “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have.” – Eckhart Tolle

    Tolle teaches us that the past is nothing more than all present moments that have gone by and the future is a collection of present moments waiting to arrive.

    We fill in gaps with painful thoughts

    For some reason we incessantly fill our mind with painful thoughts about the past and worrisome thoughts about the future. Yet, we can only live in the present.

    Think of a straight line. At one end is the past and the other the future. In the center of the line is the present moment, where you exist. Now picture gaps along the line on each side of the center. The center (the present moment) is the only spot that should contain our thoughts. However, we fill in those gaps on each side of the center with painful and worrisome thoughts that do not matter. These thoughts do not matter because we can only live in the center – the present moment.

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    One question to freeze your situation

    There exists one question that can freeze any system in its current state.

    “What will my next thought be?”

    By repeatedly asking yourself this question, you can actually delay the answer to the question – your next thought. This is a powerful way to interrupt your mind and separate yourself from it.

    This is an effect from physics called the quantum zeno effect. Essentially, the quantum zeno effect demonstrates we can freeze a system in its current state by endlessly observing it. The key to being in the present moment is observing the present moment.

    Give it a try now.

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    Pull your mind from your body

    Imagine for a moment that you could pull your mind from your body to observe your thoughts and actions. Well… you can. Think of playing a video game where a dialogue or decision box pops up above the character requiring you to make a decision about what to say or do next. What else is happening in the game? You are freezing the game in its current state – in the present moment. It freezes the present moment in the game and in real life, think about that.

    Now think of a recent moment in your life where you had a negative thought. Freeze that moment and visualize yourself as the video game character. In a video game, we don’t judge the character we are controlling, we simply observe the decision or action that needs to be made.

    “Your entire life consists of the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

    We all have negative thoughts for which we cannot wish away. They will continue to flood our stream of conscious. The point is that we must stop judging the thought. We can’t stop the thought from entering our mind, but we can stop the judgement of the thought.

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    The next time a negative thought makes its way into your conscious, just acknowledge its existence and remember… it does not control you. Take a moment to observe the thought and analyze it.

    Finally, if you desire to be more present, you must be present. I am reminded here of one of my favorite quotes by Jim Elliot.

    “Wherever you are – be all there.”

    So, wherever you are… be all there.

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    More by this author

    Dr. Jamie Schwandt

    Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

    How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory 10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus and Creativity 9 Game Changing Tips on How to Write Goals (and Reach Them!)

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    1 Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know 2 Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain? 3 How to Practice Mindful Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts 4 10 Personal Development Goals for Success and Happiness 5 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

    Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

    People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

      In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms of a low esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

      Symptoms of a Low Self-Esteem Person

      Common Symptoms

      • Unable to trust your own opinion
      • Always overthinking
      • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
      • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
      • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

      Lesser-Known Symptoms

      Being a workaholic

      At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward.

      It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

      Overachieving or underachieving

      Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents.

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      However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

      Causes of Low Self-Esteem

      Most of the time it stems from our childhood. Here’re some negative early experiences that lead to low self-esteem:[1]

      • Frequent punishment
      • Frequent neglect
      • Chronic abuse
      • Harsh parental standards
      • Being bullied/boycotted
      • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
      • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
      • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

      Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

      How “Bottom Line” Affects Your Self-Esteem

      “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

      When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

      That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

      How “Bottom Line” Determines Your “Rules for Living

      Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

      How Low Self-Esteem Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

      So what are the consequences of having low self-esteem?

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      It Makes You Confuse Love with Low Self-Esteem

      Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly.

      When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

      It Makes You Have a Lower Hand in the Relationship

      As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for.

      Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

      It Makes Your Employers Feel That You’re Not Talented

      People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves.

      During meeting, they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

      It Can Lead to Depression

      Over time, low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers.[3] Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

      How to Improve Self-Esteem

      As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

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      1. Ignore All Those “Positivity” Advice

      Very often, we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

      Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead, they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

      2. Focus Elsewhere

      “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly.”[4]

      Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

      When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

      According to psychologist Abraham Maslow,[5] to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it:

      Or you can refer to the graph below:

      5 Levels of Human Basic Needs

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        To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you:

        • Deep connection with loved ones
        • A healthy body
        • Sense of control
        • A meaningful life purpose
        • Recognition and respect from others
        • Sense of security
        • Creativity

        As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

        Resources to Help Increase Your Self Esteem

        To help you gradually build your self-esteem, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

        1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
        2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
        3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
        4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
        5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
        6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
        7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
        8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
        9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
        10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

        The Bottom Line

        If you find yourself having low self-esteem, don’t be hopeless. Have faith in yourself that you can regain self-esteem and become a confident and successful person.

        How?

        Understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and overcome these causes with the advice in this article.

        Featured photo credit: Joe Gardner via unsplash.com

        Reference

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