There are various paths that we can choose to take in life, we can take the well-worn path, or we can take the less worn path, or we can strive to carve our own unique path in life. What would you choose? Some would say the well-worn path is the best path to take, others are more drawn to the younger fresher path, and others start to make a new path altogether, whichever person you are every path has its value and teaches us something about ourselves. What might influence our choice potentially is our way of thinking and our world perspectives and for me, those can be split into two other types of paths.
There are two paths of thinking patterns that I have become very mindful of over the span of my adult life. And over time I’ve started to recognize when I’m starting down one of those paths and have had to choose to retrace my steps and proactively lead myself down the other.
Both these paths I am talking about are referring to a particular pattern of thinking that we can find ourselves caught in, and how that pattern of thinking amongst other things can influence how we show up in our life, our day, our mood, our interactions, and our energy levels.
Learning to be more in the here and now, and recognize when that patterned thinking is starting to build, and then how to flip the switch, or change that thinking pattern, is the key to finally becoming that boss of your own thoughts and developing the ability to effectively navigate and steer those thinking patterns in the direction you want. It might feel like a tricky thing to change, but trust me, with time, practice, and mindful self-reflection you can navigate yourself to the right path naturally and effortlessly. Yes, you can retrain your brain.
So firstly, let me clarify these two paths and then look at how to navigate off one and get on to the other.
The first of those paths is without a doubt the path of mental ruminating, overthinking, overanalysis, and/or self-criticism. This type of thinking can really stop us in our tracks and get in the way of us living a fully authentic and energized life. If you think about it for just a moment, the time and mental energy that we expend going back and forth through all those spinning thoughts in our head is time and energy taken away from being present and contributing to the here and now.
This type of thinking pattern interferes with our capacity to be completely present in the place and space we are in. If you’re constantly running through a range of different thoughts in your head, while also trying to be present and engaged with friends, family or work associates are you genuinely hearing what they are saying? or noticing what is going on in any encounter or conversation?
This thinking can take us out of the here and now. It can take us into a fantasy world in our heads of all the with ifs, need to’s, should have, could haves… Ok, I’m going to stop there. The good news is that there is an alternative way of thinking. Which is the second path that we can choose to go down. This path is so much kinder, curious, more self-affirming and empowering and opens us to a range of new world perspectives and potential experiences.
This second path is that pattern of thinking that can proactively filter out those negative or critical thoughts fluidly and effectively. This pattern of thinking seeks to be open and fully curious about encounters and experiences in the here and now. This pattern of thinking does not keep flipping between focusing on past experiences and the thoughts connected to those or going fast-forward into the future to try and extrapolate all the “what if” and “if only” scenarios endlessly to work out all potential solutions. Instead, this second path of thinking nurtures a deeper sense of trust in the process of life, a deeper connection to “having faith that things work out as they are meant to”, it works to let go of overthinking and brings you back to being present in the here and now, as well as enable you to notice more about yourself, the people and world around you in the present moment.
You can begin to shift your thinking pattern by taking time to be more mindful of the state of your thinking, when you recognize your thoughts going down the overthinking path, allow yourself to pause, be still and personally reflect on what’s going on in the present, what feelings are you feeling, can you breathe those out, and then patiently consider how you need to support yourself in that moment. Don’t judge or be critical of yourself at the moment but offer yourself understanding and nurturing words.
To nurture this state on a more regular basis takes time and willingness to make that time for yourself and your personal growth and expansion. It takes being willing to let go of the need to always be in control. It takes being willing to get to know yourself on a deeper soul level. Which in turn builds your confidence and capacity to walk this second path daily.
So, imagine this, you’re at a crossroads, and ahead of you there are two paths to take, one looks worn and tired, the hedges are unkept, sticking out, the grass is overgrowing, and potholes everywhere as far as the eye can see, grey clouds linger above, and the path forward is unclear. This is a well-worn overthinking path. Then to your right, there is another path, this path looks fresh, with no overgrown hedges or weeds, you can hear the bird songs come from within the hedges of this path. The sun shines on this path as far as the eye can see, as the path continues there are other paths branching off into the sunlight offering limitless paths of opportunities and possibilities.
Now you need to make a choice, which path do you want to take, the first that is well-worn, but tired, and dark or the second path that is vibrant, light, and full of possibilities? Which path would you rather take? While it might appear to be an obvious choice, we human beings can struggle to make those right choices for ourselves, sometimes it’s hard to see the woods for the trees, and we can keep telling ourselves that even though things feel difficult that we can carry on, that we can keep going. However, sometimes it takes stopping, pausing, and taking a bigger look at what is going on for us daily. It takes identifying those aspects of our life that need to be addressed. And then it takes making different choices, and working to change any behaviour, thinking patterns and perspectives that may be contributing to our current state of stuckness, disharmony, stress and/or upset.
So how about you start with these straightforward questions for yourself. Take time to reflect and journal your answers. And do your best to be open and honest with your answers. Create space and time where you can be still and quietly reflect before answering the following questions.
- Which path do I feel I’m on most of the time?
- Which path would I rather be on all things being equal?
- How would I like my own life path to look and feel?
- And lastly, if there was one thing I could try to do differently this week to get me on the right path what would it be?
So take those first steps to be mindful each day of the path you take, and be present in your daily actions that will support your journey along your chosen path. If you are thinking “I am not sure even where to start” and if you feel it would help email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be delighted to arrange a time to talk with you
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See you with my next blog if not before.
Love and Light