Are you controlling your thoughts, or are they controlling you?

Today is my husbands birthday.  I generally take the day off to spend with him because its in the warm summer months, and why would I not want to spend a beautiful summer day together?  In our family, no matter who’s birthday it is, that person always gets to pick what they want to do for the day.  Since today is his day, he wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle.  He’s a Harley Davidson fan and since he got his bike 3 years ago, he’s been…. well, obsessed!  He’s a great rider and has done just about everything to become knowledgeable about how to be a safe when riding his bike.  I know how detailed he can be and have watched him become a true expert rider over the last 3 years.

That being said, I’m not a big fan of riding motorcycles.  I’ve never been against them, but they have just never been my thing.  However, since he has had his bike, he always asks me to go with him on rides, and sometimes I do. Of course, since today is his birthday how could I say no?  Sometimes, I believe in a relationship that you have to give and take a little and so I do go with him from time to time.  The thing is, as great a rider he is, and I totally trust him, fearful thoughts enter my head. “What if we hit some gravel and fall?”, “What if a car crosses the double yellow?” (which by the way can totally happen in a car too!) “What if we go too fast and he loses control?” (Didn’t I just say I trust him?)

Despite the best intentions, fear can often take a front seat in our minds and just take over! The same thing often happens with flying on an airplane. Have you ever been all excited to travel, get on the plane, find your seat and get situated.  Then as soon as the plane takes off *BOOM*  you start sweating, thinking about how you will prepare for your crash landing (considering all the statistics about how most plane crashes happen upon take off and landing of course!), hearing the sounds of the engine mechanics, the wheels pulling up and and the wing flaps moving up and down and wonder, “something must be wrong with this plane!?  Yeah, I’ve been there too!  What a tailspin we get ourselves into!!  

Thoughts of ourselves being harmed is actually very natural!  Our brains are programmed to protect us from danger. It’s the fight or flight response in action!! Our brain is responding to acute stress and triggering the autonomic nervous system to release a dose of adrenaline.  Cue up the fear!!

So what does all this have to do with our thoughts controlling us? This is a long known concept but is something I’ve been coaching myself on as well as my clients.  Our thoughts are very powerful and have the ability to really change our physiological state. (eg; increase/decrease our blood pressure and heart rate) and our emotional state.  When you think a thought it generally creates a feeling (positive or negative) and as humans, we often make our decisions and base our actions off our feelings.

Controlling your thoughts can have a profound affect on how you operate in your life.  If you are constantly allowing your thoughts to control you by allowing fear, anger, jealousy dictate your actions, how will this affect your life?  If you control your thoughts and allow courage, happiness, and security show up instead, how different will you feel and act?

So back to the motorcycle ride.  It was a beautiful sunny day. Breezy in morning but warm since we were supposed to be in the 90’s. We decided we would just ride to grab breakfast and then take a ride up a mountain canyon, stop for a bit to check out the local town and then ride home. I did fine getting to breakfast.  Once we started up those winding roads in the canyon I could feel myself tense up, start grabbing on to my husband and feeling the sweat start to bead up. I made it to the top of the canyon to that little mountain town.  We stopped for a bit… and the wind picked up.

Thinking about the rest of the ride back, I was feeling that fear start to take control.  I didn’t want to ruin the rest of the ride.  Even though I know he’d understand, I wanted to feel better through it all and not be afraid.  I began to visualize us getting to the bottom of the canyon and feeling at ease. I visualized us arriving home in our driveway, saying what a beautiful ride it was.  I looked around at the beautiful canyon walls and sunny skies and told myself how grateful I was for this beautiful day that is not given to everyone.  I told myself that I was with someone who I trusted and was very experienced and would get us home safely.  I thought about all the times he has taken the bike out and come back completely safe and sound.  I thought about how many times I’ve also returned safely on previous rides.

You know what happened?  Thats right!  I found myself completely relaxed and calm.  Before we even got to the bottom of the canyon,  my usual “grip of death” on my husband was released and I was waving my arms through the air.  I was relaxed the entire way home and we ended up having a wonderful day.

When you can take control of your thoughts rather than allowing them to control you, life is much more pleasant. You can be calmer, more focused, happier, and in control of how you feel and act based on your thoughts.  Thoughts really do create our reality, so I encourage you to take charge of yours and create the life you want!

 

xo, Kelly