You have more control over thoughts than you may think.

Having once ridden my bike down a steep slope straight into a canal lock (don’t ask) I certainly recall the stomach-churning feeling of knowing I was out of control.

Although I trust you’ve never made precisely this foolish mistake, it’s a pretty safe bet that your childhood will have involved at least one occasion on which you careered down a hill without the power to stop yourself.

Of course, you tend to have little or no fear when you’re young, so having no hope of slamming on the brakes doesn’t necessarily bother you: in fact it’s probably quite exhilarating.


As you grow up, however, you tend to develop more worries about being out of control, exercising rather more caution.

But while we recognise the need for control over our physical actions, how often do we stop to think that we generally have the same kind of power over our thoughts?

It’s easy to get swept along on a wave of believing that thoughts show up in your mind unbidden, resulting in feelings over which you have no choice.

It’s certainly true of me at times, when I find myself reacting unhelpfully to some kind of unpleasant situation.

It’s as if my mind hurtles towards the same old conclusions without for once stopping to wonder if it has a choice.

Controlling your thoughts ought to be easy, but when you do actually pull it off it can be a weird feeling – something akin, perhaps, to picking up a trumpet as a total novice and blowing a B flat out of the blue.

Where on earth did that come from?

It could be something you already do on a regular basis, in which case keep it up.

However, if you’re like me, you may need a reminder that you’ve more control over your thoughts than you may sometimes believe.

If you find yourself about to slip into negativity today, see if you can’t apply the brakes.

You might just surprise yourself in being able to take a slightly more positive approach.

6 thoughts on “You have more control over thoughts than you may think.

  1. The acknowledging is important with tiresome thoughts. Our mindfulness teacher used to say – when you get unwanted thoughts – the usual suspects – welcome them at your door, wine them, dine them, acknowledge them and then escort them to the door. Or another thing I do is imagine picking up the thought like a pebble – look at it, consider it, turn it over in my hand and then put it back with all the other pebbles on the beach.

  2. Very timely for me Jon as this month is always a challenge for me for a number of reasons. Even though I know that I am finding it hard to deal with what feels like random thoughts which do indeed ‘carry me away’. However am taking stock and also acknowledging that I’m physically exhausted too which affects who well I handle myself mentally.

    So getting out of the house for a break, a coffee and a browse around a local bookshop which should help to reset my brain!

  3. My husband and I have very opposing views on how to discipline the kids. For 17 years we have both argued that the other is wrong. As you can imagine this has been a constant source of friction. Recently I have read alot on paradigms. We had another ” I’m right you are wrong moment ” in front lf our teenagers. Then it dawned on me it was ok to have opposing views. For once I calmly turned to the kids and husband and said “you know it’s ok that we have different views. In fact it’s important to understand that in our own ways we both want the best for you, we just express our concern differently and that’s ok”.
    How did it feel. Great. For once did’t feel angry or annoyed. Even my husband was surprised. Good to hit the brakes and change bad habits. Go for it.

    1. Thanks for the article and the helpful comments. I certainly recognise the ‘out of control’ feeling. It’s true about the trumpet novice thing. Recently, after spiralling into rumination for weeks, I suddenly found myself thinking ‘it’s just a story’ and dropping it all. No idea how I did it! Thanks again.

  4. This is very appropriate to me. Yesterday was the anniversary of when
    I suffered workplace bullying and harassment leading to constructive dismissal at work. I have had a really hard year coming to terms with what happened. I spiralled down into deep depression. I have found your moodnudges really helpful. My husband and I decided to have a positive day and went to some National Trust properties in the next county which we had been meaning to visit.

    The sun shone, the properties were lovely and we owned the day instead of being a prisoner to the past. I did think of it a couple of times but mostly I enjoyed spending time with my wonderfully supportive husband in a beautiful part of the country (Devon).

    Life can very difficult at times. It can be very difficult to control your thoughts at times. It can take time building up from a couple of minutes of control to longer. It is SO worth the effort and that is what I try to remember when the Black Dog bites.

    Many thanks for your help. I really appreciate your emails.

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