"Thinking about what you think about 1 is one of the most profound yet challenging ways to build a better life, become a better person, and change the past of terrible trajectory - either self-inflicted or from a family history.
How often have you heard people say they didn’t know they would make the same error that had plagued their family for a long time? Some individuals keep repeating the same pattern of ills and poor choices over and over again after telling themselves that they would never be caught up in that kind of life.
There is a story of a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic mother and a father who abuses substances, with twin boys, Jude and Jason (not their real names). When they were both in their mid-twenties, Jason was already in prison serving a sentence as their father did while Jude had become a business executive. He had a family with a nice house in a suburb.
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A clergy who visits prisons to minister to the inmates got talking with Jason. He asked him, “Why did you choose a life of crime?” And he answered, “I couldn’t have been anything else but the examples from my father.” In the course of their conversation, he mentioned that he was a twin.
Curiously, this priest tracked down his twin brother, Jude, and asked him why he chose differently. His response was, “I looked at my father and decided I didn’t want to be like him.”
One twin made a conscious choice ‘not to become’ what he saw and left home to pursue an education. In contrast, the other twin – unconsciously picked up their father’s lifestyle and behaviour.
What we see and experience when growing up (culture, examples, patterns, behaviours, lifestyles etc.) are buried in our sub-conscious such that we act them out without giving thoughts to them. These experiences can have adverse effects on our thoughts and behavioural patterns. Hence, before there can be a positive change in the trajectory of any deleterious thoughts, we have to consciously ‘think about what we have been thinking about’ and also back it up with the necessary actions.
Thinking about what we think about isn’t as easy as it sounds. A whole lot of conscious thinking, mental exertion and mindfulness must go into how our thoughts translate into actions. It even takes larger doses of courage, tenacity, personal resilience, and a will of iron to acknowledge that one has been following a wrong pattern and mode of thinking all along.
Next, it takes humility to accept that those negative thinking patterns are wrong and need to be altered or eradicated. Unlearning and relearning thinking and behavioural patterns is one of the hardest things to do, but it is achievable, and the rewards are enormous and deeply satisfying.
Here are some of the things that must be changed, if not totally altered, if you want to break a cycle of negative thinking:
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#1. Know that you are not your mistake(s) or the mistake(s) that authority figures in your life have made
Individuals repeat negative patterns of the past or parent’s past because they often feel powerless or helpless in the face of continuous or continuing negativity, believing that things are meant to be the way they are. There is no single pattern or adverse circumstance that cannot be changed if the willingness to do so is available.
"Some individuals keep repeating the same pattern of ills and poor choices over and over again after telling themselves that they would never be caught up in that kind of life."
#2. Know that how you see the circumstances or situation is more important than the circumstance or the situation itself
Individuals who have been able to transcend adverse circumstances, more often than not, observed that negativity does not define who they are and, in the process, made life-changing decisions that unleashed the process for a better life. They did not define themselves by their circumstances; rather, they used those unpleasant situations as stepping stones.
#3. Knowing exactly the root cause of the generational or personal negativity
History should not define an individual, but the knowledge derived from it should be used to trace the ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’ of unpleasant reoccurrences and what to do to break the cycle. Lack of knowledge or ignorance of a past or pattern is a sure way of repeating negative histories.
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#4. Knowing how and when to walk away from an environment or a community of negativity
Often, physical ties have to be severed for better and healthier choices to be made. Physically changing locations and environment to a better one is essential to develop new mindsets, build healthier relationships and create positive outcomes.
Cycles of negativity and a history of generational failures and setbacks can be broken if individuals, first of all, make up their minds that they do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Furthermore, they must do what is necessary to build a future that they want to be proud of.
There is no permanence in failure. Building a history of success and positivity can be done with the consciousness of legacy that every individual wants to be known for. As success can be transgenerational, failure is, too — and people should know that their past doesn’t necessarily need to define their future.
Let's keep dazzling as we build a better future together.
Olúwabùsáyọ̀ Mádaríọlá, a full-time writer and author residing in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, is a former banker with several years of experiences in operations and trade services. To find fulfilment and purpose, she decided to resign from her banking job and pursue her core interests: writing and teaching.
After working in the education and business development
sectors, she settled to doing what she knows best: writing, and has so far self-published two books (non –fiction and fiction) within the last two years. She has also published on several blogs.
Olúwabùsáyọ̀ is a graduate of philosophy from the prestigious University of Ibadan (UI) with additional degrees, both from UI and University of Lagos respectively.
Apart from reading and writing, she values quietness and action movies.