To a larger extent than we care to admit, we do not have direct control over our thoughts…
One thought triggers the next thought, which triggers the next, and so on and so on. One might go so far to say: We don’t think our thoughts; our thoughts think us.
In order to illustrate the point, let’s play word association…
- Cat… ___
- White… _____
- Hot… ____
- Up… ____
How about this: Who was your favorite teacher in high school?
By the way, as you were reading this, did you think about your left big toe?
Again, notice how easily our attention can be redirected from one thought to another by external events. Notice how easily we can be knocked “off task” by even the simplest suggestion, much less a monumental event.
The point of this is not to make you feel hopelessly at the mercy of external events.
The point is this: Once we realize how one thought naturally leads to related thoughts, we can exploit this “vulnerability” in order to tame the stage fright monster.
To that end, the idea is simple: We need to prime the pump in order to get our stream of consciousness moving in a desirable direction.
And a simple, but powerful way to accomplish this is to practice intentionally focusing our attention on constructive and desirable things. Restated in more forceful terms, you need to take very seriously what you pay attention to. It’s that simple and that hard.