Repetitive Thinking Patterns

by Kristine Enger

Part 2 in series – read Meditation & The Busy Mind here

Have you ever been waking up from a comfortable sleep, with that sweet, carefree, holiday kind-of feeling, stretching leisurely and then boom! having what feels like the weight of the world descends upon you?

From a state of well-being, we seem to, in a split second, recollect and bring forward the sum of the stories of our lives, what we perceive to be our current reality. A reality, which, most often, has us in a vice-like grip of fear.

Is this a bad habit that we are engaging in, flipping into heavy thoughts which far outweigh, with their sheer number and density, more joyful, hopeful thoughts and a greater sense of well-being?

Researchers agree that we are thinking on average 65,000 thoughts per day and that 90% of these thoughts are not only the same as we were thinking yesterday, but also predominantly negative and harmful to self.

We seem to be replaying the same stories and scenarios, over and over. Giving our attention and energy to memories of the past, or projecting our thinking mind into an anticipated future, all done with a ‘doom and gloom’ mindset.

By becoming more mindful, we start to form the habit of observing our thinking patterns as they arise in the now.

On one hand, we see the gift of this newfound awareness, our ability to observe and create distance to our thinking mind, but at the same time, there is a desire to understand how these ‘go to’ thinking patterns were created in the first place. Why are they so negative, and have they served us at all?

As very young children, we had not yet developed discernment or the analytical ability to distinguish what was true or false. We believed everything we were told by our caregivers, as our pure minds absorbed all without questioning.

So, when we were told, “you’re bad”, ‘shame on you” or “you’re a mistake” we innocently believed this to be true. Inevitably, we developed a thinking pattern and modified our behaviour to suit what we were starting to believe about ourselves. We did this for one reason only: to survive.

If we did not mould ourselves to be accepted, liked and loved by our caregivers, it could mean our survival was at stake.

Most of the time, the repetitive thinking patterns are very insidiously disguised, lodged deep within the subconscious mind. The link to what we were being told as children, may seem to be far off from what we are experiencing in our daily lives now, in the form of relationship problems, anxiety, depression and so on.

However, as we sit quietly with ourselves in a mindfulness meditation practice, or embark on a journey of self-inquiry, we start to see this connection. Ultimately, we cultivate love and compassion for ourselves in this way.

Sometimes this is all that is required, to understand that these unhelpful patterns of thinking were innocently formed to ensure our own survival and that all of humanity has this in common.

Other times, coaching, psychotherapy or bodywork is needed to investigate further the origins or the trauma that set us off on a path of self-destructive habitual thinking and behaviour.

Either way, over time we may experience that the more we know about ourselves, how our thinking mind works, the more easily we can choose well-being over ‘doom and gloom’ thinking.

Thinking that feels fresh and new arises in this moment only and comes with a feeling of hopefulness.

Choosing to bring our mind and focus back to the here and now, opens the possibility to stretch out those wonderful carefree moments, and make them last longer.

To learn more about Mindfulness Meditation you can come to our group sessions (MindfulnessMindful Living or Meditation), or book in a private session with Kristine or come to her weekly support group sessions on Tuesday mornings from 10am – 12pm. Get in touch with us to find out more. 

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