6 months ago

Do we control our thoughts or do our thoughts control us?

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In my mind everybody has this so called "free will" that they can use to control their thoughts, behaviour and so on. Until your senses distract you with some other information and move you away from your original thought. As I was writing this I had a phone call and it activated my senses, thus distracting me and leading to a controlled thought of reacting to this stimulus. That is how humans essentially work: they react to different stimulus caused by different senses and world outside of us. You can't avoid these reactions completely, thus you are being controlled and one could say that thoughts control us.

But, while that may be true I think that we still use our free will to choose what we think and how we react - just to a certain extent. We control our thoughts if there is a place where we can concentrate on our thought and keep ourselves away from distractions. Then, we can control our flow of thought. Still, most of it is a combination of both. I'm writing this and thinking about it, trying to form next meaningful sentences. Still, my conscious is being pulled away constantly by loud noices of trucks driving behind me on this busy road. So, I'm controlling my thoughts and actions but at the same time they are being challenged by thoughts that are not in our control.

Maybe it could be said that we actively try to control ourselves while thoughts through senses and needs passively affect our lives whether we want them to or not. At different times different opinion wins. Good luck with losing control :)


I think we control our thoughts, not necessarily always consiously but sometimes sub conciously as well.

What are thoughts? How do they come to existence on the first place? It's all are desires which creates thoughts. Desires are our own so we are the one who are actually creating and controlling our thoughts. It's just a mere excuse that we are under control of our thoughts and we cannot help it, but in reality we are being controlled by our desires not by our thoughts.


Neither. To grasp the gist of how the mind works, you need to see past some of our invalid, but commonly shared, notions as to what we are.

The full scope of your consciousness includes not only the rational, calculating ego-self that we commonly think of, but a vast, comprehensive subconscious. This deeper part of mind stores all of your memories, learned knowledge and a broad array of impressions you've been accruing since birth. It holds a huge array of interrelated conclusions, beliefs and definitions, many of which are likely false, others incompatible with each other -- but that doesn't matter to the subconscious. 

For the Self to think and negotiate its way through daily encounters, it has to draw continually from the subconscious -- not only for information, but for making sense of what is being encountered. Indeed, all of experienced reality is sifted through subconscious belief systems to make sense of it: two people, hosting different beliefs, will interpret the same happening with widely divergent meaning attached.

Most of the mind's dip into the subconscious is unnoticed -- you simply access memory and filter things through your belief structure very quickly, register impressions and formulate thoughts into language as a natural gesture. 

Thoughts, then are small particles of mentally-held meaning that rely fully on subconscious material -- stores of information and structured beliefs. They bubble up to conscious attention, sometimes when elicited for a purpose -- but often thoughts just come to mind for no purpose connected to the present situation. 

In that case, you might think that thoughts are "controlling" you, in that they spring to mind out of context and can interfere with what you're doing. 

In effect, the conscious Self can control thoughts simply by concentrating on a specific topic. Alternately thoughts can seem to control the situation by popping into mind without being elicited.

But in reality, the total Self -- the whole of the conscious Self which you are -- contains a much more complex, operative, interactive mind, with great amounts of information and background understanding in play at all times. 

So neither do you have full control over thoughts (or even the thinking process), nor they over "you". That's because your beliefs and accepted definitions -- which often include non-functional notions (like religion) that you accumulated since childhood -- strongly influence both. But thoughts can emerge without being elicited, based again on complex elements you absorbed into your belief structures since childhood.

In effect, YOU are the totality of your conscious ego-Self AND your exhaustive subconscious (and more, actually, but that's a bit deep to dive into here). You direct some thought processes; others kick off spontaneously based on the overall content of your psyche. But the most accurate answer to your question is: Neither!

Our thoughts are our own creation. They are part of us and not coming from outside. As a matter of fact, the French philosopher René Descartes connected our thought with our own existence when he said, ‘Cogito ergo sum’ (I think, therefore I am).

Gautam Buddha also said : “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

Once you understand that you and your thoughts are not different but one, the battle to control your thoughts doesn’t make any sense. Who control whom when both are one and the same.

Our mind keeps thinking all the time in our waking moments and even during our sleep. If you focus your mind within, there is always some thought process going on in your mind. However,you can change your thoughts according to your will. You have the freedom to focus your thoughts on any subject of your choice. However, you can’t focus your mind for long if your mind is not disciplined properly and your thoughts move back to its natural stream very soon.

We can compare thoughts with breathing. We are breathing without our conscious knowledge all the time. Yet as soon as we desire, we can naturally control our breathing. However, we can’t control our breathing for long because as soon as our mind starts thinking of anything else, our breathing return to our natural state.

It is for this reason, that our ancients have discovered a great connection between breathing and thoughts.

When you control your breathing, your also control your thoughts.

One and one's thoughts are himself. And, control is coherent to self. Therefore its a vague question.

1 comment

Very interesting thought to ponder on :):)

As I think about it, Human beings are having a constant battle to gain control over their thoughts instead of vice verse. More successful the person in doing same, more Nirvana he/she has attained.

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Our thoughts control us, I can’t always control what I think. For example if I say purple elephant, you’ve probably already thought of a purple elephant in your head. While you do have control over whether or not you want to keep thinking about it, you can’t control it popping into your head. So at best you have partial control of your thoughts

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My thoughts definitely control me


Normally our thoughts control us, but through meditation/other practices, we can train ourselves such that we control our thoughts. Thoughts are a good servant, but a bad master.

It works both way depending on which force is dominant like water/current flowing from high level/potential to lower potential.