Can you imagine how your garden would look if you didn’t have some way to control the weeds? Weeds are so pesky, so annoying but we learn to deal with them, both by making efforts to prevent their growth in the first place and by making efforts to get rid of them when they do start to grow.
Just like weeds or unwanted plants, we also have unwanted thoughts – thoughts that get in our way of personal growth, thoughts that crowd out our happier feelings, thoughts that get in the way of enjoying our relationships, thoughts that are just plain pesky and annoying. So what do we do with these thoughts? First of all, we recognize that we’re in charge. We don’t have to believe all of our thoughts anymore than we have to allow every weed to grow. To many people, that in itself is a very liberating thought! We can choose which thoughts we want to nurture and cultivate, which ones are consistent with our values and principles. We can also choose NOT to nurture and cultivate those thoughts that are not consistent with our values and principles.
The way we cultivate thoughts is to pay attention to them. So if we want to get rid of a thought, we acknowledge it’s there and then choose to let it go, to not give it attention but instead focus on the thought we want to cultivate. Usually it’s best to let it go gently rather than fighting it because that, in itself, is giving it more attention. One technique that is helpful for a lot of people is to visualize unwanted thoughts as leaves in a stream and just letting them pass by, while at the same time carefully cultivating those thoughts we want to keep.