Your thoughts are the only thing over which you have 100% control.
How you think, what you believe, how you reason, are all subject to your control. You are the master of your mind; you are the director of your imagination. Nobody else.
You are therefore the master of your effectiveness and director of your experience. This is because you control how you react to what is happening around you. You set the course of action, your response, which includes your emotional responses and reactions.
Most people, though, react to their environment unconsciously. They don’t realise how they react because they are not aware of how they react. They ricochet from one drama to the next, forever blaming the world and other people for how they feel and what circumstance they find themselves in.
If the weather is good, they feel good. If others are impatient and frustrated, they react with impatience and frustration.
As such, because they live day-to-day in a state of semi-consciousness, they disempower themselves. They hand over the responsibility of how they feel to other people and external circumstances, thus enslaving themselves to the whims of others and external events.
When we live in a reactive, semi-conscious state, we say things like, “You made me angry!” “You always make me sad.” “I’m never good enough for you.”
It’s not always negative emotions either. We also rely on others to make us feel good, to make us feel happy, to feel safe. We do this almost to the point of addiction to that person or to that circumstance.
It’s why you see people going from one relationship to another, seeking happiness or security in another’s company like an addict seeking a fix. They have partner after partner after partner, and sometimes it seems they are lining up the next partner even before the relationship has ended with their current partner. Then, when their current partner no longer ‘gives them what they want’, such as happiness, security, belonging, affection, or attention, they start to look for it elsewhere in another person or activity.
In today’s society, we see the effects of collective semi-consciousness in the high rate of divorce, which, in the Western world is now at or over 50%. That means for every two weddings you drive past, one of them is not going to last very long.
The positive side to this is that at least 50% of marriages are successful and effective at keeping their vows to love one another until death do them part.
Problems, though, will always arise when you refuse to take responsibility for how you think, how you feel, and how you behave. As an adult, when you refuse to take responsibility for yourself, you deny yourself the right of self-determination. You deny yourself the right to determine how you live your life, now and in the future.
Victor Frankl, holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, (Victor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning, Beacon Press, 1959, first published 1946, Austria) discovered through surviving two Nazi death camps that no matter what happens to you, no matter what fate befalls you, you always have the power to choose—you always have free will:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
He also opined that the USA was imbalanced because it had a Statue of Liberty on the east coast but no Statue of Responsibility on the west coast. With freedom comes great responsibility, without which that freedom is abused and uncontrolled. Freedom isn’t living without limitations or constraints, freedom is responsible decision-making, “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Responsible decision-making therefore requires conscious effort. It requires the deliberate awareness of who you are, what you want to be, which includes awareness of how you think, feel, and act.
So, if it is your intention to live the life you want, the way you want, how you want, then you must not let yourself fall into the slumber of semi-consciousness and subcontract the responsibility for how you think, feel, and act to someone else or something else.
It’s vital that you remain alert and fully aware of your thoughts, your words, your feelings, and your behaviour. For this is the only way you can be responsible for who you are and what you do, and not anyone else, because:
When you accept responsibility for yourself, you empower yourself.
This is energising. Power is energy. When you are empowered, you are energised. When you are disempowered, you are de-energised.
Taking responsibility for who you are and what you do is like plugging yourself into the Great Power Source of the Universe—you feel recharged and revitalised. Every day is new and fresh. You feel like you can take on the world and do anything.
This you can do no matter where you are and what you’re doing. This you can do no matter your current circumstance, whether you feel good, bad, or indifferent.
So what happens to you on the outside is not nearly as important as what happens inside your mind. Success and effectiveness therefore begins with controlling your thoughts and becoming a master of your internal world.
The Power of Focus
The focus of your thoughts determines your effectiveness and your success.
Your state of mind that you are identified with, in fact, is the ‘reality filter’ that determines your perception of your inner and outer world and thus your overall experience. Simply put, what you focus on, you experience.
In other words, what you are aware of becomes your reality.
This is because you create the condition that you experience with your mind, specifically your thoughts, ideas, beliefs, how you speak to yourself, and how you’re feeling.
Like a baby is first conceived, gestated, and then delivered into the world, here’s how you create your world through the process of conception, concept, and condition:
- Your mind (imagination) is the conceiver, that which conceives or impregnates an image or thought in the womb of your mind.
- Your conceived thought is now the imagined concept that germinates or gestates in your mind as ideas, beliefs, attitudes, values, words, and convictions.
- Your imagined concept is then delivered into your world as a manifested condition that you perceive as a ‘real’ experience, such as feelings, emotions, desires, energy levels, actions, and behaviours.
But it all happens inside your mind. That which was first imagined as thought has become ‘real’ (*see below for more information, The Imagination Cycle).
Here’s an experiment you can perform to prove this to yourself, a kind of ‘glass-half-empty, glass-half-full’ experiment in which I’m going to ask you to focus on a minor, unpleasant experience and then ask you to focus on a more pleasurable experience. Then we’ll analyse the results.
- First, sit or lie down in a comfortable place where you’re not going to be disturbed for 10 minutes. Ensure you have a pen and notepad nearby to write down your thoughts after completing this and the next part of the experiment.
- Once comfortably seated or lying down, take 3 deep breaths and close your eyes.
- Now focus on a recent event that’s fresh in the memory when you felt displeasure. Not something that is high in emotion, like anger, or grief, or hatred, just something that was more irksome and annoying than highly emotive. For instance, spilling milk on the floor or splashing tea or coffee on your lap.
- Now go over the events that led up to that event. What were you doing at the time? What were you thinking? What were you saying?
- In your mind, now enact the actual event. E.g. spilling the milk, splashing the tea or coffee.
- Now take note of how you are feeling in this moment. Are they positive or negative emotions? How similar are these emotions to when you actually experienced the event in the past?
- Now stop thinking about the event and take several deep breaths. Blow away the images and the feelings that the memory has aroused in your mind with every breath you expire. Take as many breaths as it takes to feel calm and comfortable once again.
- Now open your eyes and end this first part of the experiment.
Before starting the second part of the experiment, in just a few words, with your pen and notepad, jot down the main emotion or feeling that the memory aroused.
Once done, prepare to begin the next part of the experiment.
- As you did before, sit or lie down comfortably, take 3 deep breaths and close your eyes.
- Now focus on a recent event that’s fresh in the memory when you felt pleasure. Not something that is high in emotion, like ecstasy, or euphoria, or elation, just something that was more pleasing and satisfying than highly emotive. For instance, successfully completing a challenging task, or a satisfying ‘Yes!’ moment.
- In your mind, now enact the actual event. E.g. completing the task, the moment of winning a little victory.
- Now open your eyes and end this second part of the experiment.
As before, with your pen and notepad jot down the main emotion or feeling that the memory aroused in just a few words.
Now let’s analyse the two results, the displeasurable emotion aroused by the re-enactment of the irksome event, and the pleasurable emotion aroused by the re-enactment of the pleasing event.
Here are some questions to consider:
- In your mind, are you able to follow the causal link from thinking about each event to the emotion that you felt about it?
- Are you aware of how you—and only you—are the cause of your emotion in each part of the experiment?
- Are you aware of how your energy was affected in each part of the experiment? E.g. did you feel that your energy was being drained or being boosted?
- Are you aware of how your effectiveness is being influenced by your state of emotion in each part of the experiment? E.g. are you more or less effective with unpleasant or pleasant emotions?
- Finally, are you able to see how what you focus on determines your experience?
This thought experiment highlights the power of focus. If you focus on negative events or negativity in general, then negative emotions are aroused and experienced, which in turn diminish your energy levels and decrease your overall effectiveness.
If you focus on positive events or positivity in general, then positive emotions are aroused and experienced, which in turn renew your energy levels and increase your overall effectiveness.
The impact of this is significant: what stands between you and your true potential is how you think!
The bridge that connects where you are now and where you want to be is the focus of your thoughts!
It isn’t circumstances or your environment that determines whether you are effective or ineffective, whether you are successful or not—it’s how you think and what you focus on.
This is because:
Circumstances do not make or break who you are—they reveal who you are.
Circumstances reveal what’s going on inside you.
Circumstances bring to your awareness the things that are often sub-conscious or semi-conscious, like your attitude, your prejudices, your values (or lack thereof). The things you generally don’t think much about or pay scant attention to, but are actually integral to who you are and who you want to become.
It isn’t the outside event or circumstance where the problem lies. All problems are the result of a cause, and because thought is always first cause, your problems are showing you that their cause (and therefore solution) are in your mind—your thoughts, beliefs, ideas, attitudes.
As Shakespeare wrote,
“For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so… nothing is really good or bad in itself—it’s all what a person thinks about it.” (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2.)
So it’s vital to take note of how you think and to be aware of your current beliefs and attitudes.
Do you focus on the glass half-full or half-empty?
Do you worry about problems you can’t control or focus on the things you can control?
Do you blame others or events for where you are now, or do you take responsibility for where you are and where you want to be?
Effective people know that their thoughts and attitudes determine their level of effectiveness.
This doesn’t mean that effective people aren’t people without problems. Rather, they are people who have learned to solve their problems at the level of first cause.
They have learned to focus on and improve their thoughts, attitudes and beliefs because these are the processes by which they improve self-management, time-management, and personal energy management and thereby improve their personal and professional effectiveness.
What you choose to focus on will ultimately determine your effectiveness and your experience. That’s the power of focus.
How you manage your personal energy levels is integral to your success and effectiveness.
But why is energy important? How does managing your personal energy levels affect your levels of achievement and success?
Because energy is the foundation of existence.
Without energy, there is no physical matter, there is no universe. There are no galaxies. There are no stars, no planets, no moons, no sun. There is no life. There is no you.
You are alive because Life is living. You live because Life is sustaining you with its infinite, abundant energy. This energy flows in you, through you, as you.
It is not your energy, it is the Universe’s energy. Just as a leaf of a vine is sustained by the flow of sap from the vine stem, so too you are sustained through the life-giving flow of energy from the Universe. The vine leaf does not sustain itself; if the leaf should detach itself from the stem, it would wither and die. As long as it remains attached to the stem, the vine leaf is vibrant, energised, alive—it is the expression of the living energy that flows within it.
Do not think that your body and energy are two separate entities. There is no separate body ‘here’ and energy ‘there’. There is only energy and it manifests in many forms, including your body. But it is the same energy nonetheless.
At the deepest level of physical matter, energy exists as packets, waves, and fragments. Scientists used to believe that the atom was the building block of the universe, but then they discovered that inside the nucleus of atoms were smaller atomic particles called protons and neutrons, and spinning around that nucleus of protons and neutrons, like little moons, were even smaller atomic ‘bits’ called electrons.
Then they discovered even smaller particles of matter, known as elementary fermions, such as quarks, leptons, and bosons, of which a photon, the most basic element of light, is an example. These fundamental or quantum-level particles are considered to be variations of pure energy.
This means that all matter at its most fundamental level is energy. Just as a wave cannot form or exist without the water across which it travels, so too everything in the universe cannot exist without quantum energy. Think of matter as vibrational ‘glitches’ in an infinite quantum energy field, or as ripples across the universal ocean of energy.
Carl Sagan, the American astronomer and cosmologist who narrated and co-wrote the original Cosmos series, famously said that we are all stardust. All the trillions of atoms that make up your body were first created (through the process of nuclear fission) in a star in a distant and long-gone solar system, maybe even in a galaxy far, far away. That star exploded, ejecting all its material across interstellar space, where it found its way to Earth, and from that very stardust your body is created.
Over 100 years ago at the turn of the 20th Century, the German physicist, Einstein, discovered that all matter is energy and he described how this occurs in his special theory of relativity with his famous equation: E = mc2 (where E = energy, M = mass, C = the speed of light).
This equation revealed that matter and energy are the same basic entity that can change or be substituted into each other. The great advances of our modern technology is based on the fact that all matter at its most fundamental level is energy. Just as Newton’s laws spawned a whole new era of technological advances 300 years prior, Einstein’s theories spawned our modern era of technological advancement: television, radio, space exploration, computers, the nuclear age, and even the internet.
But the theory of relativity isn’t restricted to technology; it is everything that exists, including biology, cosmology, geology, and everything else in the universe. This means that not only are you stardust, you are also pure energy. You are pure energy that has taken the form of you.
This formless energy takes form in your muscles, your bones, your blood, your nerves, your hair, your eyes, your hormones. Your 5 senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Energy is the foundation of everything you are.
It also includes all your non-physical attributes, such as your thoughts, ideas, emotions, desires, your feelings. It includes all your hopes, your dreams, your memories, your beliefs.
So energy is not only vital for life, it is also who you are. Without it, you cannot be. Without it, you cannot do the things you like to do. Without it, you cannot think, speak, feel, breathe, play, dance, sing, write, create, build. You cannot love.
Energy is the clay from which not only you are moulded, but that which you create the world in which you live. It is the substance with which your imagination conceives, gestates, and gives birth to the ideas and concepts you wish to make real.
Energy is the force that allows ideas to manifest into physical reality.
In the previous thought experiment you just conducted, you revealed to yourself how you are the sole creator of your experience. What you focus on, you experience. In this way, your mind is very powerful.
You, in fact, are an extremely powerful creative being. You are creating everything you think, feel, say, and do. And because everything is experienced in the mind, you manifest your reality.
This you do every moment of every day. Up until now, however, most of us haven’t used our creative power in any focussed or directed manner. It’s been generally unfocussed and undirected, and this is mainly due to our lack of awareness of how powerful we really are as a mediator of our experience.
That’s why it’s been said that if you only knew how powerful your thoughts were, you wouldn’t waste them.
Which is why I’d like to go into more detail and show you how the creative process works, from your imagination to physical reality, and how you can utilise your own creative power to live the life you want, the way you want, how you want.
The Imagination Cycle
Previously, in The Power of Focus, we discussed how you create the conditions that you experience with your mind, specifically your thoughts, ideas, beliefs, how you speak to yourself, and how you’re feeling.
In everything you do, your thoughts are first cause. Nothing can happen without you first thinking about it. Every action from scratching your cheek, to walking to the shops, to driving the car, to writing an email, anything that happens in your day-to-day life first begins with thought.
Granted, some actions are unconscious, like breathing, your heart pumping, your kidneys filtering, your nails growing, and your other bodily functions, but that doesn’t mean your mind isn’t thinking about these processes. All it means is that you’re not aware of them.
Your mind works on 3 distinct, but overlapping, levels:
To use a building analogy, your sub-conscious mind is the equivalent of basement-level thinking. Sub-conscious thoughts run in the background without you being aware of them. They control all your automated bodily functions like we’ve just mentioned, breathing, blood circulation, kidney function, and so forth so you don’t have to think consciously about them.
Imagine if you had to say to yourself 15 times a minute, “Breathe in, breathe out.” Or if you had to consciously tell your heart to beat 60 to 80 times a minute? You wouldn’t be able to get much else done during the day. And you wouldn’t be able to sleep or you’d soon stop breathing and your heart would stop, waiting for the command to get to work.
But even though you’re not aware of your sub-conscious thought processes, they still activate your body’s organs to keep functioning. It’s usually when things go wrong—pain, disease, dysfunction—that the basement level thoughts send alarm signals up to your consciousness to make you aware that something isn’t quite right and is in need of your attention.
The next level of awareness is your normal, day-to-day consciousness. Your conscious mind is the equivalent of street-level thinking. This is the level of awareness we are all familiar with, the level of consciousness we are aware of 99% of the time. Thoughts, sensations, visual stimuli, dreams, pleasure and pain, reason, logic, creativity, all enter through the front door of our consciousness and make their presence known to our awareness.
The third level of awareness is your highest level, your supra-conscious. This is the equivalent of the top floor of the building, or the penthouse. It’s where the boss lives and works, your Higher Self, and communicates to your awareness on the street level through intuition and insight.
Your Higher Self can see further because it is above street level. It also knows more, is wiser and more patient. Unfortunately, because the street level is so noisy and full of distractions and things that need your urgent attention, the wisdom, insight and intuition of your Higher Self gets drowned out and ignored. So its communication often goes unnoticed and slips past your attention. Only in the silence can it be heard and understood, which is best achieved through practices of mindfulness, such as meditation and prayer.
These 3 levels—sub-conscious, conscious, and supra-conscious—are 3 parts of your whole consciousness, and as such all 3 can be accessed and utilised by your imagination superpower to increase your personal and professional effectiveness.
“The Imagination Cycle” is what I call the process by which your imagination engages all 3 levels of your consciousness to propel you to higher levels of effectiveness and achievement. This is how it works:
- From your imagination, thoughts and ideas are born.
- From the birth of thoughts and ideas grow emotions and feelings.
- From emotions and feelings, words and actions are motivated.
- From words and actions, effective behaviour is moulded.
- From effective behaviour, success habits are set.
- From success habits, achievement is accomplished.
- From achievement, success is experienced.
And from success, more ideas are born and the whole process begins again.
A word of caution is warranted here. The Imagination Cycle is a driver of success, but if your thoughts are not focussed and directed, this cycle also drives failure. Here’s how:
- limited or negative ideas lead to negative emotions and feelings;
- negative emotions and feelings lead to demotivation and inaction;
- inaction leads to limited or absent behaviour;
- limited behaviour leads to bad habits;
- bad habits lead to non-achievement, which leads to failure.
But let’s just focus on positive ideas and the pathway to your success, none of which can happen without energy.
There is only one energy force in the universe, only one energy field from which everything springs forth.
There is no duality when it comes to energy. There is only one Power Source.
What we do with that energy, however, is up to us. We can use it for selfish reasons or for the greater good. For good or for evil. To heal or to harm. The energy is the same fundamental energy, it only differs in the manner in which it is used.
This fundamental energy is also what connects you to everything else in the universe—galaxies, stars, planets, moons, the Earth, the continents, the animal kingdom, the oceans, other people.
There isn’t a separate energy field for you and a separate energy field for me. We share the same energy field, and although we’ve probably never met, we are connected at this quantum energy level.
Just think of a glove. Although the four fingers and thumb appear separate and individual, they are still connected to each other through the form and the material of the glove. In this analogy, quantum energy is the glove material and you and I are the individualised finger forms.
Science has shown this quantum interconnectedness of things to be true in the mechanics behind what they term ‘observer influence’. Which essentially means the simple act of observing an experiment can affect the outcome of that experiment.
To try and counteract this phenomenon, scientists and researchers develop double-blind experiments to minimise the impact of the observing scientist on the outcome and thus arrive at a ‘natural’ outcome or result. This hopefully minimises the risk of the researcher or participants influencing the experiment with what they hope or expect to find, rather than discovering the truth of what really ‘is’.
So, at the fundamental level of being, science has shown that we are all connected through the Universal energy field, even though on the surface we appear separate and distinct. Yet all living things, all matter, all space, share the same energy field and are interconnected.
We are all One.
Energy is not only the means by which all matter exists and the means by which stuff happens, it curiously cannot be created or destroyed. It is infinite, abundant, and eternal.
As the First Law of Thermodynamics states:
The total amount of energy and matter in the universe is constant. Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed.
So all the energy in the universe that ever was in the beginning, is all the energy that is now, and is all the energy that ever will be. The only thing that changes is how that energy is expressed. How that energy looks. How that energy appears. Only the form changes, the energy remains the same.
This means that energy is not only the power that creates and moves matter (you), but it is also the thing (you) that it powers. Energy is both the mover and the moved, the giver and the gift, the cause and the effect.
The same energy that powers your bedroom light through electricity is also the light that is emanated—by flicking the switch, you transform electrical energy into light energy. But it’s still the same energy. All that’s happened is that the cause (electrical energy) has transformed into the effect (light energy).
So too quantum energy is the power source to light the universe. Energy, in fact, equates to power. The transformational power to activate, animate, and applicate.
Energy activates thought. It animates life. It applies action.
This is the transformational power of energy in action. It is the same transformational power that powers your ideas, your emotions, your activity, your achievement. It is the same transformational power that powers your success.
It is the same transformational power that powers your failure too.
Which is why it must be directed and controlled. Just as the electricity coursing through the wires and cables in and around the walls and ceilings of your house must be controlled lest your house burns down or you get an electric shock, so too you must control your innate energy lest it debilitates you or, worse, damages you beyond repair.
How you direct and control your innate energy is through its three human manifestations—mental, emotional, physical:
- Imagination (mind and intellect)—activated energy, which manifests as conceptual thought forms.
- Inspiration (emotion and feeling)—animated energy, which manifests as enthusiasm.
- Identification (physical and sensory)—applicated energy, which manifests as effort.
So, in your intention to become the person you want to be and do the things you really want to do, your mental, emotional, and physical energy will need to be directed and controlled in an intentional and disciplined manner. You will need to activate your energy, animate your enthusiasm, and apply your effort in meaningful and effective ways.
And one of the best ways to do develop these 3 important habits is to broaden your SCOPE, which we will now discuss in Part 2.
This article is an excerpt from Dr. Scott Zarcinas’ upcoming book, The SCOPE of YOU!
Why Success in Anything You Do Depends on Your SCOPE (and Your Failure Too)