The Anatomy of a Thought – Part 1

By | April 25, 2013

thought-leaderOur life is comprised of the thoughts that we think. What we think is ultimately how we create action in our life, whether it is simply the action of brushing our teeth, or a more dramatic action of quitting our job. Without the thought behind them, all actions, beliefs, and behaviors that we call “ours”, could not occur.

It may surprise you to know that the average human being has between 60-70 thousand thoughts per day. Most of these thoughts are what I would call “automotron” thoughts because they are the many thoughts that propel us into the automatic functions of our day, like our morning routines, eating, bathroom, preparing for sleep. These thoughts are VERY ingrained in our brain and you will find that deviations from these thoughts, like when you are traveling or when you’re out of coffee in the morning can be quite disruptive.

mind control

It may also surprise you to learn that many of these 60-70 thoughts are extremely repetitive and 80% of them are negative. “I’m always running late”, “I can’t stand another meeting”, “I’d pay a million dollars to not have to make that drive to work again”, and so on. I call these thoughts our daily diatribe because they are almost as automated as automotron thoughts, but they have a much more significant impact on our beliefs and behaviors. The daily diatribe is mundane pre-recorded rehearsal of our day to day life. The effort to think these thoughts is minimal, but the effects of these thoughts can be extremely draining, diminishing, and often quite discouraging, especially over a long period of time.

just my mindThen we have the thoughts that arise from the experiences we are having. Besides the automotron thoughts that come from our experience, like thoughts about being cold, or uncomfortable, we also have thoughts that evaluate and analyze the current experience. These are the “I have a life” thoughts. For example, you are in a meeting or in line at the grocery store. While in the experience, you have probably judged and labeled the people around you, the environment itself, like the room or the physical items around you, and then you have related those judgments to how they affect you. You begin to label the experience as good or bad and then you begin to develop some type of reaction to the experience. You express your analysis with a behavior of some type, irritation, frustration, anger, or in the case of a positive experience, laughter, or physical contact, or smiling. Remarkably this all happens in less than a second, which is a testament to how amazing our brain works. While our automotron and daily diatribe thoughts are the most consistent in our day to day routines, they are also the least noticeable in our life because they are so automated into our brain. The “I have a life” thoughts are by far the more noticeable in our day because these are the thoughts that verify that we are living in the world by experiencing the world and participating in it. However, this process still goes on rather unconsciously.

declutter your mindThe results of doing this analysis and labeling all our experiences then later results in the fourth type of thought that we experience and this is what I call “head thoughts.” These are the thoughts that come from our head BECAUSE of our past experiences. These thoughts might include our assessment of our identity or roles in life, our feelings about the world, our belief systems, our personality traits, and our reasons for why we do the things we do. These thoughts, although seeming to be based on fact, (because we have based them on our own personal experiences, conditioning, education, social memes), are the ones that are mostly pure fiction. And the reason they are fiction is because these thoughts are not based on true present moment experience but a derivative of experience, or in other words they are the thoughts we develop as a result of experience, and they are always based on the past or some unknown future. These are thoughts that create a paradigm or holographic image of who we are, who others are, and how we all play together in this big universe. These are generally the thoughts that we most dwell on and these are the thoughts that cause the greatest emotional responses from us.

raod to my soulFinally, there are thoughts that we know not where they came from. They have no relationship to any direct experience we may have had, and they can sometimes appear very randomly. Words to describe these types of thoughts are epiphany, revelation, vision, sign, manifestation, satori, awakening, enlightenment, discovery, or “ah-ha”. The reason these thoughts seem disassociated with the traditional brainiac thoughts we deal with on a day to day basis is because they are not of the brain but of the soul. We may use the brain to express and project the thought, but the origin of the thought comes from a much higher source.

So we have 5 basic types of thoughts that occur (there are many more at a much subtler or extreme levels too, but for the most part, these are the 5 most common). Automotron, daily diatribe, I have a life, head thoughts, and soulful thoughts.

“He who would be useful, strong, and happy must cease to be a passive receptacle for the negative, beggarly, and impure streams of thought; and as a wise householder commands his servants and invites his guests, so must he learn to command his desires and to say, with authority, what thoughts he shall admit into the mansion of his soul.”  

 - James Allen

Why is the anatomy of a thought important? Just like the study of the human anatomy helps us to see the inter-connectivity of the body to our movement, the anatomy of a thought gives us the understanding of thought so that we can see the inter-connectivity of thought and emotions/feelings and our behaviors/actions. And also like performing a deep study of the body, deep consideration of thought demystifies thought paint the night skyand allows us to open up new choices. Many think that the content of our mind is fixed and that we only have what is available to us to work with, but this is far from true. By using the process of dissecting the thought, we can study its origins and gain a higher sense of the self. Many new options become available to us on a thought that has been contemplated honestly. Frankly, if given a choice of what types of thoughts we would most like to be thinking, I think most of us would agree that the soulful thoughts are the ones that would provide us the fullest and most gratifying living experience.

In Part 2 of this article, let’s go deeper into the possibilities behind the anatomy of a thought. Can knowing the origin or category of our thoughts allow us to make significant changes in our lives? Can we put processes into place to help us eliminate thoughts that do not serve us? What sort of things can we expect to see as we go forward with our thought contemplation’s?  If we want to focus more on the soulful thoughts, what can we do to do that? For now, take some time to consider the 5 main categories of thought and have some fun identifying some of your own thoughts in each of these categories.


John C. Bader on April 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm.

Well done… looking forward to Part II – JCB


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