Here’s the 3-step user manual for your brain

You’ve heard the saying, “I think, therefore I am.”

RenĂ© Descartes’ words spoken in the 17th century point to the power our thoughts have over us.

Gaining control over how you interpret the up to 70,000 thoughts that come to you is the first and most important step to mastering your mind and achieving what you want in life.

That’s right. Don’t believe everything you think. We are humans, not perfect machines, so can’t help but to let bias, values, assumptions, limiting beliefs and emotions into our thinking process when interpreting the world, people and events around us. Thoughts can build us up and thoughts can wear us down, stress us out, and yes, even make us sick. Thoughts can build relationships or weaken them. Many thoughts are simply a waste of our time, which is the most precious resource we have.

For instance, let’s talk about that thing called worry. Worry or anxiety is a fear emotion, but it’s a fear of something that HAS NOT HAPPENED. Researchers have studied worry, and to summarize their findings, they discovered that the things we worry about pretty much don’t happen (85%) and when they do happen it’s largely things we didn’t have control over anyway and we do a better job handling it than we thought we would. Worry is a wasted emotion.

So how do you get control of what your thoughts mean so you make better choices with the words and actions that follow them? Here are 3 steps to take now:

1. Be an observer – Listen to your thoughts in a disassociated way as if you are your own coach and question the ones that are negative or not empowering toward you or others. Ask yourself, what do I want to believe instead?

2. Pull out the weeds – Don’t let weeds grow in that beautiful garden of your mind. We have a tendency to have the same thoughts over and over again. When we get stuck in this looping of thoughts that don’t serve us, all we have to do is pull the weed out by saying, no thank you, I don’t need you. By bringing awareness to those unhelpful thought patterns, you can redirect yourself toward my next point.

3. Focus on what you want – We see what we look for, so look for the best. Put all of your energy toward what you want, and stop wasting energy getting exasperated by others or when things don’t go your way. It’s often easier to think about what we don’t want or to move away from something rather than towards something. Please avoid that trap that keeps you operating at a lower level, sapping your enthusiasm and spirit.

What if you reverse the quote above? I am, therefore I think. You are not your thoughts. Nor are you your beliefs, words or actions. You have a thinking mind and you have intuitive mind, and when you learn to leverage both to interpret your thoughts and in communication and decisionmaking with others, you’ll set yourself up for even greater success.

Why you should “own it” vs. blame others

Have you ever felt ignored, blamed or stuck, or like you have little or no control over a situation? We all have, and some psychologists say that our thoughts are in those places (aka, “below the line”) up to 80 percent of the time.


The key is to learn how to be aware of and accept the moments when you’re feeling below the line. Ask yourself, “How did I get here? What has been going on in my life?” And, when you’re ready to move forward, ask yourself, “What can I do to take responsibility for how I feel? What do I want to believe instead.” When you answer the latter, you regain control of your interpretation of the event, which means you regain control of your circumstances.

Yes, mastering your thoughts means mastering your results. Have you heard of the law of attraction? The point is that our thoughts are more powerful than we think they are, and we attract the things into our lives that we focus on. So when we always see the problems, we stay in the problems. When we are waiting for others to do something, we hold ourselves back from moving forward. When we refuse to see our role or our choices in creating the situation we are in, we cannot get ourselves out of it.

Your personal power lies in noticing that there’s a choice in how you interpret the world around you. You have the control, if you’ll just decide to take it. Once you open your curiosity by deciding to learn from criticism or difficulties, and get courageous by seeing effort as a path to success and persisting in spite of setbacks, you are developing a growth mindset, as written about by Dr. Carol Dweck and illustrated below.

Her research has shown that those with a growth mindset reach higher levels of achievement and fulfillment. You’ve heard the phrase, you are what you eat. You are what you think too.

Focus on what you want

Focusing on what you want and interpreting the events around you in the most empowering manner are the first steps to mastering the world and circumstances around you. It’s the first step toward achieving what you want.

It’s also an important part of relating with others. We don’t wear buttons that others can push. Our buttons exist only in our minds, and we are the sole operator. Do you want others to control your confidence level, your mood and your results, or would you rather be in charge? It starts with having an “in charge” vs. victim mindset.


Ask these questions whenever you feel yourself getting worked up by a situation or a person:

  1. What do I want to focus on? (make it something that you want vs. what you don’t want)
  2. What does it mean? (make it the most positive possible interpretation and don’t try to mind read others)
  3. Now, what do I want to do about it? (make your action step decision a thoughtful process so that you don’t react, you respond)