Here’s something you should never do: Take some old rags, soak them in solvents like paint thinner or turpentine, and pile them up in a corner of the garage on a hot summer day. Why is it a bad idea? Because if the temperature in there gets anywhere above 100 degrees those rags are going to burst into flames and burn down your garage. It’s called spontaneous combustion, although that term is a bit misleading. It suggests that the rags caught fire for no reason. One minute they were just sitting there, as harmless as…well, a pile of rags, and the next they’re a raging inferno that could possibly turn your entire house into a heaping pile of ash. To an observer, that might appear to be the case, but the truth is, there was an invisible process occurring. The chemicals in the rags were interacting with each other and with the increasing heat in the room until they reached a point of no return. The actual flames may have appeared in an instant, but there was really nothing spontaneous about it.
Spontaneity (and not the combustible type) is one of those ethereal qualities on which we as humans tend to place a lot of value. It’s the kind of thing people might list as a positive attribute on a dating app, or a quality that we admire in other people. “He’s so spontaneous!” We imagine these people as the types who simply take action without the burdensome drag of thinking it through first. These are people without a care in the world who are really “living life to the fullest”. But like those oily rags in the corner of the garage, there’s really nothing spontaneous about any action that we take. Thinking always comes before action. It is our thoughts that create reality. Some actions may appear spontaneous to outside observers, like the top salesman who shows up to work one morning and turns in his resignation, or the wife who leaves her husband a Dear John letter after thirty years of marriage. But have no doubt that the salesman and wife had been thinking about those actions for weeks, months, even years, entertaining repetitive thoughts that ultimately manifested into real-world events. This is an incredibly powerful concept to understand because when we recognize the connection between our thoughts and our actions, we are better equipped to create the outcomes we desire.
Take Maria, for example. She tends to have struggles around money, mainly that there never seems to be enough of it. She works hard at a job that doesn’t pay very well and she feels trapped. There are things Maria can do to improve her situation like getting more education or working to improve her skills and talents. But those are things that require action and, right now, the way Maria thinks about money, and her relationship with it, is never going to set those actions into motion. When it comes to money, Maria carries around a lot of unworthiness like a sack of rocks tied to her ankles. She views people who have a lot of money as “others” who live in a reality that she simply does not belong to. She’s never going to take those night courses, or sign up for specialized training, or even just look for a better-paying job because she doesn’t think she deserves the fruits of those labors. Why she thinks that way and how that mindset became established in the first place is an entirely different discussion. For our purposes here, what’s important to understand is that Maria can learn to recognize those thought patterns, acknowledge them, and then replace them with new thoughts that will spur different actions.
The mind is incredibly powerful. We can think of it as a space of pure energy, the energy of creation and potential. And whatever we put into that energy is activated and amplified until it becomes manifested into physical form. The good news is, we get to pick what we put into the mind and what we take out of the mind in the form of thoughts. The mind is simply going to think; it's what the mind does. Like a factory, the output is wholly dependent on the input. If you choose to put nothing but shit in, then nothing but shit is going to come out the other side.
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