Visitors here at Phenomenal Mind are coming to appreciate how much that flow of inner thoughts just happens. It does just happen. Yes, we can override the free flow reading a book or directing our focus to a task but, within the nooks and crannies of those moments we think the thoughts. It’s as if we’re haunted. We’re not really, it’s just rather, that our brain’s efforts to help us are non-stop.
The efforts of our brain to help us are in-formed by ALL and I mean ALL of our past and present experience, 24/7. Whew! That is a lot of information. Yep… It is and the brain organizes and prioritizes that information to produce what are seemingly knee jerk reactions to things. Have you ever said..”I can’t believe I just said that”, or “Oh God, I sound just like my Mother”? There it is folks, the fruit of the information processing function of your brain.
That Fruit Takes the Form of ‘Templates for Action’, Bear in Mind, ‘to Think’ is a Verb.
To think a thought is to act. So…templates ‘predetermine’ much of what we think. I am grateful to Henry Stapp for the concept of ‘templates for action’.
So do we have free will? Better to think in terms of free won’t. Remember that override function? It includes exercise of ‘free won’t’. Imagine the implications of this! That we are capable of saying no to many actions is well known; we can refrain from eating dessert, walking out of the grocery store with the dollar we found on the floor, etc.
But, Can we Exploit our Ability to Change Thought Patterns? Yes, but There is a Trick to it:
1. Do not hate or negatively judge yourself for the thought. It will weaken you and interfere with the successful use of Free Won’t.
2. Treat the thought as if it were an ant on the picnic table. It’s there, you want to deal with it but it’s NO BIG DEAL.
3. You have just successfully lowered the likelihood the thought will recur.
4. Don’t say ‘whew’. If you do, you are continuing to engage the thought and that is exactly what you don’t want to do.
5. To work with the probability dynamics that give rise to thoughts AT A QUANTUM LEVEL, you must as withdraw any attention to the thought as quickly as possible unemotionally.
6. Over time, absent any attention directed to types of thoughts, those types of thoughts become less likely to occur in the future.
About Diane Kern
Diane has been a practicing psychotherapist for over thirty years. She is credentialed to teach college level psychology, social science and anthropology. She has taught at California Community Colleges and Universities. She studied psychoanalytic theory and practice in the School of Criminology at the University of California at Berkeley where she earned her doctorate degree. She traveled to India to study cross-cultural conceptions of mental illness. Research was undertaken in social work agencies and at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. She has had a balanced yoga practice for twenty five years.